Melbourne-based online travel agency View Retreats witnessed enquiry levels go through the roof for its portfolio of luxury accommodation packages last weekend, driven by the Victorian government’s easing of pandemic restrictions.
On Sunday [24 May 2020], Premier Daniel Andrews announced a number of COVID-19 protocols would be unshackled. Importantly for the tourism industry, those changes now permit overnight stays at private residences, including accommodation and camping.
View Retreats CEO and Co-Founder Mat Lewis said his website’s unique visitors traffic tally was 199% greater than pre-COVID averages for a Sunday. And the result was even better on Monday, with the increase in daily visitors up 217% compared to pre-COVID averages.
Launched in December of 2013, View Retreats features a curated collection of exclusive private villas, boutique hotels and luxury lodges across Australia and New Zealand. Featured hotels and lodges include properties such as Jackalope Hotel, Longitude 131, The Louise, Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, Qualia and Blanket Bay. View Retreats also boasts a collection of private villas and holiday homes including The Headland by Dovecote, Rivermead Estate & the Annandale Collection in New Zealand.
After several years working with luxury hoteliers and a variety of tourism companies such as STA Travel, TUI Travel and Peregrine Adventures, the latter to manage the transition of the adventure travel company into the Intrepid Group, Lewis says he co-established View Retreats “out of frustration”.
“After trying to find a private villa for a special occasion, my partner and I got tired of searching through big booking sites that include everything from extreme luxury villas to grandma’s pokey spare room. We thought there must be a better way. So, after not finding anything similar online at the time, we decided to create something ourselves. View Retreats only contains properties that we’d stay in ourselves – making it a much easier task when we’re trying to book a holiday!”
Lewis told LATTE traffic on the View Retreats website has slowly started to return over the past week or two as each state started to lift restrictions.
“But it was Daniel Andrew’s announcement on Sunday that really drove the huge surge in interest. This makes sense as the majority of our customers are based in Victoria, followed by New South Wales,” he said.
Lewis, who is also a qualified business coach, noted that there are “two clear trends” that are emerging.
“The first is people wanting to get away as soon as possible (ie. in the next three to four weeks), especially for the long weekend in June. The second is people wanting to be a bit more cautious by booking later in the year (ie. September to December).
“A lot of these later bookings are for larger family get-togethers where people are banking on restrictions being lifted for larger groups,” he explained.
The number of bookings versus a regular pre-COVID weekend was also up, “but unfortunately not quite in proportion to the huge surge in traffic.
“What we are still experiencing is a huge increase in enquiries. This indicates to me that many people are still a bit hesitant about travelling and generally want to ask questions and seek reassurance about government restrictions, property suitability, cleaning regimes, etc, before confirming anything,” Lewis added.
The properties to attract the most interest over the weekend included Victoria’s Breakneck Gorge Oikos in the Daylesford region and Big Blue Backyard on the Mornington Peninsula, and Banjara Retreat in the Blue Mountains, NSW.
More on View Retreats at viewretreats.com/
Lead image: Crystal Creek Rainforest Retreat, NSW