Luxury Lodges of Australia says its online lodge availability calendar has proven a ‘game changer’ for customers and travel advisors, and is encouraging the trade to utilise the multitude of resources available on the collection’s website.
With availability at the 19 properties that make up the Luxury Lodges of Australia often hard to get, the Lodge Availability Calendar is a useful tool that can assist travel advisors when planning their clients’ next holiday.
Initially rolled out in March last year, the tool connects with a live availability feed from most member properties. The remainder update it regularly. The stable includes Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley, qualia; Saffire Freycinet, Capella Lodge, Lizard Island and Bamurru Plains.
Penny Rafferty, Executive Chair of Luxury Lodges of Australia said the calendar was developed to aid travellers who were tied to specific travel dates, a specific lodge or “just really desperately needed to get away and have a lodge experience”.
The colour-coded Availability Calendar on LLOA’s website is simple to use. Green means available, pink means unavailable, and orange means check with the lodge direct.
“For people with fixed dates, it made it very easy to determine which lodge to contact and not waste my time. Or if conversely, anyone was wanting to book a specific lodge because that’s the place they want to go – on the reef, or in the rainforest, or in the desert – then they can scan it and base their decision on when there’s availability,” Rafferty explained to LATTE.
Rafferty said the calendar has taken the complexity out of trip planning, in particular, for overseas travel advisors developing itineraries for their clients coming to Australia.
Pre-COVID, around 35%-40% of business across the 19 member properties was inbound visitors. The USA was the single largest international market, accounting for around 47% of sales. The UK/Europe had a 42% slice of inbound sales, with the rest a mix of markets from Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, China and a smattering from around the world.
Rafferty said the Lodges traditionally tended to have a strong international market, varying depending on the particular property. Bearing in mind some lodges would have as much as 80% international market, while others may be more domestic dominated.
Tools and resources
The LLOA website has an array of other tools designed to make life easier for luxury travel advisors, such as downloadable image and video galleries, suggested itineraries encompassing multiple properties, property conservation and environmental sustainability initiatives, frequently asked questions, news updates and more.
“It’s a one-stop-shop for travel advisors and anyone planning to promote or sell the lodges and where all their questions can be answered,” Rafferty said.
“We have built functionality into the online resources to address all the questions consumers and advisors may have around the properties, such as what time of year is best for swimming with whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef from Sal Salis tented camp, what are the highlights, what am I going to do there, what are the ‘wow’ experiences, how do I get there, can I take my kids, what is the bedding configuration?”
Rafferty says she believes the understanding of the “value proposition” of an all-inclusive experiential lodge has improved dramatically.
“I believe we’ve witnessed a values alignment since COVID. That people are spending their money more in alignment with what they value. Not everyone, but there is definitely a shift in the understanding of what is this value proposition of Luxury Lodge of Australia, or a travel experience.
“Consumers are not just judging it by the dollar but by how it aligns with their values and what they’re seeking,” she said.
“The Lodges provide all the soft luxurious – eat well, drink well, sleep well – absolutely have to be there but it’s that privileged access which translates to out of the crowd, don’t want to be around a lot of people but I do want the service and I do want the connection to place, and I do want to experience nature, and I do want to experience extraordinary food and wine, and I do want to experience the provenance-to-plate experiences with the producers, meet distillers and winemakers, and have the guides that can really get me under the skin of a place.”
More than great rooms
What makes Luxury Lodges of Australia’s collection so unique is that each property is independently owned and operated, and share a common aspect of exclusivity of access, multi-hosted extraordinary experiences, amazing locations with a compelling reason to go there and do something.
“The rooms are great.. they’re all fabulous,” Rafferty told LATTE.
“But guests don’t go there just for the rooms. They go there for the rich experiences, getting the behind-the-scenes moments with the grower, the producer, the designer, the artist.”
“It’s all about connection with place in a meaningful way.”
“The lodges are more than just a place to stay. Nineteen lodges delivering over 250 experiences that connect guests with place, engaging with over 1,800 other designers, artists, guides, distillers, providores that are visible as part of the experience. There is this incredible economic nutritional factor, having a lodge in a region and the number of other SMEs and businesses that are partnering to make that experience happen.
“The power and the positive impact a lodge, and its tourism spin-off, that can bring to a community can often be overlooked,” she said.
Learn more about Luxury Lodges of Australia on their trade page, luxurylodgesofaustralia.com.au/trade-media/
Lead image: qualia, Great Barrier Reef