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ARTICLE InspirationMay 1, 2014

Tourism series, part 2: Pacific Palms Holidays and online bookings

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Nowadays, taking 24/7 online accommodation bookings and payments is essential for holiday accommodation businesses. New South Wales’ Pacific Palms Holidays made the e-commerce shift early in its business development, helping to support business growth.

Gone are the days of holiday-makers sifting through brochures, then phoning accommodation providers or a travel agent to book their dream break. Today, the majority of bookings and payments for holiday home companies such as Pacific Palms Holidays are made online.

Owner and Managing Director Dominique Vasers says e-commerce has completely changed how Pacific Palms Holidays, which specialises in property and accommodation on the Holiday Coast, three hours’ drive north of Sydney, makes accommodation bookings.

Growing a family business

Pacific Palms Holidays started as a family business, which Vasers purchased from her father 11 years ago. She explains: “He’d had enough and I had just returned from 10 years as an expatriate overseas. I decided this was a beautiful part of the world and was where I wanted to be. Property has always been my thing.”

Since then, Pacific Palms Holidays has gone from strength to strength and now has two offices in the local area. “We’ve always been fortunate to have the lion’s share of the market due to our size. We’ve maintained that position because we are at the leading edge of what we do,” says Vasers.

The business is segmented into three areas: sales, permanent management and holidays. The holiday home area is particularly appealing to Vasers. “A big share of our business is bringing people to the area through these beautiful properties. That is certainly an area of the business that I am passionate about,” she explains.

Our clients wanted to book then and there and wanted to know they were able to do that securely.”

Dominique Vasers, Pacific Palms Holidays

Underpinning technology with service

Vasers says her business is in the enviable position of mainly having home owners approach her about listing their properties, rather than Vasers having to heavily market to owners. She believes it is Pacific Palms Holidays’ established service offering and reputation that attracts these home owners.

“We can offer the credibility and the level of service they require. One of the things that home owners like is we offer a bespoke service. We recognise that different owners out there have different requirements, so we try to work with them to work out what their needs are.”

E-commerce and online accommodation bookings

The decision to move to online accommodation bookings about a decade ago has given Pacific Palms Holidays a distinct advantage, too. “When I took over from my father, it was on the cusp of the internet era,” explains Vasers. “It was at that point that we began to build a website and online booking system.”

Making the online shift early proved to be critical for the business, with the majority of business today being web driven. YesBookit powers Pacific Palms Holidays’ online booking platform, featuring 24-hour booking availability. This, says Vasers, has allowed the business to become more streamlined.

Once Pacific Palms Holidays started on its online journey, it decided to implement a SecurePay payment gateway to offer clients more peace of mind about booking online. “Our clients wanted to book then and there and wanted to know they were able to do that securely,” says Vasers. She describes implementing SecurePay with YesBookit as “smooth and seamless”. She adds: “We can go to bed at night knowing our clients can continue to book the properties with us when and where they want to.”

Business challenges

E-commerce has allowed Pacific Palms Holidays to expand, but the fast-moving technology landscape has also created new pain points. Vasers cites the sheer number of online portals that are available, and trying to integrate them into one system, as a challenge. Moving from taking property bookings over the phone has also meant the team has had to give up a degree of control over the booking process.

Despite this, Vasers has no regrets about making the shift to e-commerce. “The benefits of having an online accommodation booking system outweigh the risks. Our clients are happy, and bookings have increased,” she says.

Did you know?

SecurePay integrates with online booking systems, including YesBookit and Bookeasy.

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