Nestled between ten of Waiheke’s most stunning beaches, the Waiheke Island Motel provides spacious units, comfy cottages and 3 bedroom houses. A stone’s throw from the beach, the Onetangi Beach Apartments offer vibrant rooms, luxurious conference and wedding facilities for that special occasion.
We sat down with owner Christina to talk about her journey and how she uses Preno to simplify and grow her business.
How did you go from metro Melbourne to tranquil Waiheke?
We went over to Melbourne for work in advertising and marketing, before eventually going to the ‘dark side’ and starting our own advertising agency. We did this for thirteen, fourteen years before coming back to visit New Zealand during the rugby world cup. We immediately saw how the city had changed; the city was on a high and the question always remained: Are we going to move back to New Zealand? My sister lived on Waiheke at the time and Kelly [her husband] always said that if we moved back to Auckland we’d get a bach on the island.
Christina laughs… I said if we moved back, the only place we’d live was Waiheke Island. I didn’t want to bring up the kids in Auckland. So we sold the agency and 3 years later moved back to New Zealand. We were initially involved in a tech company, but shortly after needed something else to keep us busy. So when the Waiheke Island Motel came on the market, we immediately saw the potential in the place.
Tell us about those early days on Waiheke
The motel had been run very traditionally for the last thirty years. The buildings were a bit run down and we wanted to unify both the properties and the business. We saw the potential. Particularly because it was the only motel on Waiheke! Waiheke is one of the top destinations in the world. Where else do you get fifty vineyards, white sandy beaches, thirty minutes to the CBD, an hour to the international airport? When we arrived at the motel, the system that the previous owners had been using was one step up from an Excel spreadsheet! There were no live connections to anything and no backups.
We could see that it was holding the business back from its true potential. So I quickly began looking around for other options.
Why did you choose Preno?
1) Ease of use
I liked the user interface. It was very easy to understand: I come from a Mac background, so Preno reminded me of the drop-and-drag systems. It was very easy!
The fact that Preno automatically back-ups means that I don’t have to worry about a fire or if something goes wrong on-premise.
3) Xero Integration
We get a lot of contractors coming back and forward from the island. This meant that the connection with Xero was vital in terms of managing invoicing.
How did you find moving to Preno from the existing PMS?
We switched to Preno and Siteminder in the same week. Preno and Siteminder did most of the work. We didn’t have any major hiccups and the process went relatively smoothly. That made life a lot easier! What’s remarkable is my husband, who hates learning new technology, can use the PMS and actually enjoys it. Kelly’s not the only one: all the staff has found it really easy to learn and even my 14-year old daughter can use Preno.
Preno is decades ahead of the other systems we’ve used!
From managing a motel to running an apartment complex, how did this come about?
Three years down the track, we got the opportunity to buy the Onetangi Beach Apartments. Because the motel was so busy, we were giving bookings away. So we needed somewhere to park our extra bookings. Onetangi Beach Apartments is the biggest commercial accommodation provider on Waiheke, with over thirty self-contained apartments.
We saw it as complementary to the existing motel business. We took over Onetangi Beach Apartments two weeks before Christmas. And on the same day we took over, we implemented Preno. Again, the Preno team made it really easy! We had worked in the weeks leading up to the handover to get databases loaded and templates set-up. It was all set up ready to go prior to handover day.
Some people called us crazy, but nothing major went wrong and both businesses are now running in a unified manner.
What’s it like working with the Preno team?
The Preno team is great. I really like the chatbot help system they have. I like that I can go to Preno, ask a question and then get on with my day. It doesn’t stop me from doing anything else. It’s actually one of the better chat systems that I’ve come across. The Preno team is also really responsive. I like the hours that they work; there’s usually someone online. Even over Christmas!
How does Preno impact your day-to-day?
The biggest thing that Preno does for me is that it gives me the freedom to base myself anywhere. I can easily jump into Preno and work across both properties. My kids are skiers so in winter I often work from the snow. I can log in into Preno, run reports, check reconciliations and review bookings whether I’m at home, on the ferry or on the slopes! Preno has also allowed us to cross-sell between both properties. Our staff always have two tabs open so they can easily switch between Onetangi Beach Apartments and the Waiheke Island Motel.
This means that its very simple to check availability and make reservations in both properties.
How do you find Preno’s integrations?
The integration with Xero is very smooth. The invoicing functionality is very good. Preno also recently added the Group Bookings feature which was fantastic. It made our lives a lot easier, particularly with conference and wedding bookings. We also added Stripe to our payment gateways. It’s great to be able to securely save credit card details and process deposits all within Preno. It’s much quicker to process than through an EFTPOS machine.
In the past, I’ve recommended Preno to others because of its whole connectivity with Xero, STAAH and Stripe. And I’ll definitely do it again!
What features would you like to see in the future?
- On the booking calendar, I would love a space to save custom details such as local events and special dates, and public holidays. This would save our team, especially our temps having to remember these details when making future bookings.
- The ability to be able to split invoicing to agents. When group or conference bookings come through from an agent, we want to be able to split the invoice so we can charge the agent only for the deposit.
- Email campaigns: use the Preno database to send campaigns to our different customers. That would save us a whole step of having to export our database to Mailchimp and use another platform. Preno Update: This is something in the works that we’re excited to share more about soon!
At Preno we’re always looking to improve. So please don’t hesitate to tell us what you want to see in future updates?
If you want to see how Preno works, sign up for a 14-day free trial today!