Preno Zoom Diaries – Episode 1: John Smith from King Island Hotel

A resilient adaptation of a new market landscape and a positive outlook for the future

Since Covid-19 hit the world, the hospitality and tourism industries were some of those hit the hardest. Hotel operators have had to think of new and innovative ways to adjust to an almost travel-free world. 

Now, with borders beginning to open, and vaccines rolling out, accommodation operators are starting to be able to welcome more guests.

We interviewed our customer John Smith, owner of King Island Hotel (Tasmania, Australia), to take a look back to the start and see how he and his team adapted to the sudden onset of the pandemic, and the shift of target market focus from international guests to domestic and local visitors.

When Covid-19 hit King Island Hotel, like most accommodation providers, John and his team faced a huge drop in occupancy rates.

“We’ve gone from an 80% occupancy rate to less than 10%”, shared John.

Facing a 70% decrease in occupancy rates, paired with lockdowns and social distancing,  it definitely wasn’t an easy transition, but with resilience and innovative ideas, John and his team reinvented their business model. King Island Hotel is now welcoming a large number of locals for dinners, drinks, functions and overnight stays.

“Having Covid, we had to sit down and re-evaluate ourselves. We basically went during Covid from 40 meals a day to 130 meals a day. I basically reinvented this offer and with that came all the different ideas.”

An inspiring reflection on times of unprecedented change, and a new business model to embrace different opportunities

If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that, when we have no other choice but to adapt, we can think outside the box, and find new opportunities for business, previously unrecognised.

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For King Island Hotel, this new opportunity was embracing change and shifting the focus to functions, dining, and takeaway meals – all elements that were previously not central to their business model.

Now, when international travel returns, John and his team will have a wealth of opportunities for business – and a new business model to fall back on, should Covid-19 (or something else) dramatically change the market landscape again.

“We can see that the confidence is growing, and I’m sure with the Trans-Tasman bubble that people would want to come to Australia.

We don’t envision changing anything we’ve put forward, we believe this now to be our model, we’re moving forward with it and just totally embracing it and trying to make it better.”

Full video transcript

“We’ve gone from an 80% occupancy rate to less than 10%”

“Hey, my name is John Smith, and I’m from the King Island Hotel”

“We’re only a small small hotel, we’ve only got 13 rooms. International tourism was quite big, with the majority of people coming to King Island from Mainland Australia.”

“We’ve gone from an 80% occupancy rate to less than 10%. Having Covid, we’ve had to sit down and re-evaluate ourselves,”

“I can’t have people staying here because of Covid, they’re not able to stay here. We weren’t allowed to serve alcohol across the bar or anything like that, so we thought about what’s happening and where we can grow, and this was food. So okay, we’ve expanded our meals and all that type of thing that we were doing. We started providing a delivery service, taking meals to them and we’ve been expanding our takeaways so they actually come in pick up a meal and take it home themselves. We’ve also expanded the kitchen hours and then, just recently, we’ve started doing in-house cooking for people if they’re having a function or something like that – we’ll provide some meals, cook it for them and everything to clean up.”

“We basically went, during Covid, from 40 meals a day, to 130 meals a day. I basically reinvented this offer, and with that came all these different ideas.” 

“We can see that the confidence is growing, and I’m sure with the Trans-Tasman bubble and all of these types of things, that people would want to come to Australia.”

“We don’t envision changing anything we’ve put forward, we believe this now to be our model, we’re moving forward with it and just totally embracing it and trying to make it better.”

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About the author

Preno's Content Marketer, Alix Dougherty, is educated in the Tourism field, so seeks to apply this knowledge to content that guides and inspires hoteliers. She is a passionate writer who enjoys creating content.

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