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Connectivity key for tourism venture

Diversification through technology has proved a winning combination for Matt and Alex Pavletich who have created a tourism business operating holiday homes, alongside a family farming business.

The couple created Waitaki Awaits two years ago to provide a diverse range of accommodation in the growing Waitaki District which includes two properties in Oamaru, along with the jewel in their crown; a country escape located in the 19th century Pavletich family home at Station Peak Homestead north of the Kurow River.

Station Peak – currently being run by the fourth generation of the Pavletich Family - was traditionally a dry land sheep and beef farm which converted to a dairy operation with 2000 cows in 2008.

While the homestead has been providing accommodation for over a decade, the operation has stepped up a notch by employing five people, including the owner/operators, to run the three properties.

Alex and Matt manage the Oamaru holiday homes, which includes cleaning, gardening, maintenance, administration and correspondence with guests.

Matt’s parents, Julie and Kieran, owners of Station Peak Homestead, host guests at the farm stay along with cooking meals, creating packed lunches, cleaning, and offering farm tours.

During the busy season, Alex says there’s never a quiet moment for the family.

“Most bookings are one-night stays, so in the high season there will be two house cleans most days. On top of that, there’s always gardening maintenance to be done, and then catching up with admin and washing.

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“A normal day for the homestead B&B would include preparations for the evening meal, cleaning bedrooms and bathrooms, making packed lunches so they are fresh for the next day, preparing breakfast and farm tours. There’s also garden maintenance. First impressions are very important.”

Alex and Matt use fibre broadband and wireless to stay connected at the Oamaru properties.
With fibre not yet available at the homestead, they rely on wireless internet access.

Being connected is vital for guest communication and managing booking platforms.

“If we didn’t have a connection, we wouldn’t be able to communicate with guests if they have any problems or queries,” says Alex.

“Some visitors don’t have mobile data and need wireless internet to communicate with us through the booking apps or email.

To market the properties and attract guests, they use service providers such as Booking.com to welcome guests from all over the world, as well as their own website for the homestead.

Alex says having a strong online presence via Google and booking platforms is important to connect with guests looking for accommodation in a certain area.

“Gone are the days of flicking through a 500-page guidebook. Now it’s as simple as a click of a button, and you get instant search results and options.

“Being connected online is vital for our future, due to the impact of fast, easy and convenient results. We’re far more likely to receive bookings online rather than relying on word-of-mouth and people walking in from the street.”

To make the most of this, Alex plans to expand their social media presence and update the business’s website in order to showcase all the accommodation as one collection.

She also wants to reach different markets through strategies such as online competitions and special offers.

“There are so many options now to connect with guests online, and social media is a very fast-growing marketing strategy.

“I think connectivity plays a major role in attracting international and national interest in our accommodation. Without it, we definitely wouldn’t have the booked bed nights that we require for our business to succeed.”

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