Preno Zoom Diaries – Episode 3: Nick Fitzgerald from Aura Accommodation

“Did I ever anticipate that it would just shut down the way it did? No I didn’t. So that’s a real shock.” – Nick Fitzgerald, Aura 

We had a chat with Nick Fitzgerald from Aura Accommodation – an independent accommodation ideal for a diverse range of guests located in New Zealand’s geothermal city of Rotorua. 

When Covid-19 hit New Zealand, Nick and his team, like all hotel operators, had to step back and take a breather.

“A really challenging time… whilst there were some that may have seen this coming, for the majority of us, it probably didn’t hit home that it was really going to affect us and really going to consume us for the next 18 months.”

Finding a purpose during challenging times

How Aura Accommodation identified Kiwis as a strong target market despite their original target market of international guests 

“In normal years we’re quite reliant on internationals, so for us that would be 85 – 90% of our guests.  We’ve had the borders shut, and we’ve only been able to access Kiwis, and Kiwis represent a longer-term value to any accommodation property.”

During a time of uncertain industry changes, and a sheer halt on international travel, Nick and his team at Aura Accommodation took a negative and turned it into a positive.

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They might not be able to welcome international visitors, or even domestic visitors right now, but since Covid-19 hit, New Zealand accommodation owners like Aura have been rest-assured, knowing that when the Covid-19 cases are under control, that they can open their doors and welcome Kiwis.

Because “Kiwis represent a longer-term value”.

When we asked Nick how he feels about the future of the accommodation industry, he replied: 

“You never have time to stop and sit there and really re-evaluate what you’re doing. We’ve had this big shake up and we’ve got past that immediate fear, we’ve kind of made a little bit of sense as to what’s going on.

Now is a great chance to utilise that time and see what we are doing, how we can do it better, and start making some reasonably solid decisions and plans for the future.”

– Nick Fitzgerald, Aura Accommodation

Full video transcript

“Did I ever anticipate that it would just shut down the way it did? No I didn’t. So that’s a real shock.”

“Kia Ora, I’m Nick Fitzgerald from Aura Accommodation, in Rotorua, New Zealand. Rotorua is probably one of the least engaged accommodation industries around, but we’ve had an opportunity to bring in a lot of Kiwis and introduce them to our property, and to have a great experience in Rotorua.”

“Yeah look, a really challenging time wasn’t it, and just so much going on…whilst there are some that may have seen this coming, for the majority of us it probably didn’t hit home that it was really going to affect us and really going to consume us for the next 18 months.”

 “In normal years we’re quite reliant on internationals, for us that would be 85 – 90% of our guests through February to March would be internationals. We’ve had the borders shut, we’ve only been able to access Kiwis, and Kiwis represent a longer-term value to any accommodation property.”

“And because of that we’re seeing a real upswing in our return guests. They’ve chosen to holiday in New Zealand, and because of that, that’s given accommodation places like us the opportunity to give them a great experience.”

“You never have time to stop and sit there and really re-evaluate what you’re doing. We’ve had this big shake up and we’ve got past that immediate fear, we’ve kind of made a little bit of sense as to what’s going on.”

“Now is a great chance to utilise that time and see what we are doing, how we can do it better, and start making some reasonably solid decisions and plans for the future.”

Learn more about this property here: Aura Accommodation case study. 

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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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