A strong belief in New Zealand’s tourism sector and a desire for a more consolidated presence in the real estate side of the tourism industry was behind Bayleys’ recent acquisition of the market-leading Resort Brokers brand and business.
The acquisition – which settled during lockdown – was 12 months in the making and the new entity will be known as Bayleys Hotels, Tourism and Leisure.
Now, considering COVID-19’s impact on New Zealand’s iconic tourism market, New Zealand’s largest full-service real estate company, Bayleys, is looking forward to playing a facilitative role in the reactivation and revitalisation of the country’s tourism sector.
Bayley Corporation Limited managing director, Mike Bayley, says the Resort Brokers transaction will enable Bayleys to extend its business offering into a vital sector that will be looking for direction, proven capability and leadership as the country finds its feet in the wake of the global pandemic.
“Tourism is New Zealand’s biggest export industry, contributing more than 20 percent of foreign exchange earnings and while this star has unexpectedly just fallen hard – and fast – the only way now, is up,” says Bayley.
“Industry analysts have determined that the sector will bounce back to become even more resilient and coveted – as nothing can take away the natural resources, optimism, entrepreneurial spirit and visitor hospitality our tourism market is famous for.”
Resort Brokers was founded in Auckland in 2002 by directors Wayne Keene and Gordon McGregor to provide a specialised sales and advisory service to owners of tourism-related properties and businesses.
Its clients span the motel, hotel, bed and breakfast, lodge, backpacker and holiday park market with its services including brokering sales, leasing, management rights and market research.
With more than 45 years combined property experience between the pair, Keene and McGregor have consolidated a team of specialist brokers based in Auckland, Coromandel, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Queenstown and Dunedin and covering the whole country.
Keene and McGregor will remain in the new Bayleys Hotels, Tourism and Leisure business structure as national director and director, respectively.
McGregor says the industry today is far more sophisticated and intricate than when Resort Brokers was formed 18 years ago, and the latest pandemic environment has changed the playing field yet again.
“Resort Brokers is a trusted brand within the tourism industry and aligning our business with the respected and reputable Bayleys’ brand will create an industry force to be reckoned with as New Zealand rebuilds its rightful place on the domestic and international tourism stage.”
He says we can expect to see significant change in the sector.
“More modest accommodation providers could find new traction in the market, as short-term peer-to-peer models such as Airbnb are modified, and potentially many properties removed from the accommodation pool.
“Importantly, business operators will have the opportunity to claw back control of their booking and promotional avenues as online travel agencies relinquish the hold they have had in recent years.”
Keene says his relationship with Bayleys extends back nearly three decades as he commenced his commercial real estate career with the company in 1993 before establishing Resort Brokers with McGregor.
“We see strength and opportunity in hitching our business wagon to Bayleys’ and the cross-crediting of skills and connections will be of huge benefit to tourism accommodation owners looking for guidance, exit strategies and a reweighting of portfolios,” says Keene.
Bayleys national director commercial, Ryan Johnson, believes bringing the Resort Brokers brand and collateral under the Bayleys umbrella will enable it to confidently leverage a national tourism business line throughout New Zealand with 96 offices across the country mobilised to navigate the new economic environment.
He says the existing Resort Brokers team will join Bayleys’ offices and continue “business as usual” with the added benefit of the Bayleys’ network business strands that will add value to the service offering to clients.
“Historically, the real estate part of the tourism market equation has been highly-fragmented with owners/operators of properties and businesses in this space not having access to a national, full-service agency,” he explains.
“The Bayleys-Resort Brokers partnership changes all of that bringing the tourism property sector into the broader Bayleys business fold where our sales, leasing, valuation, investment advisory, property management and other core business strands will combine to deliver an integrated and specialist response to a sector that is hungry for expertise – particularly now.”
Johnson says the tourism sector is no stranger to disruptors, albeit COVID-19 is a beast that usurps everything that has come before.
“Now is the time for our tourism accommodation and leisure sector to take stock and decide how it will look in the new landscape we all find ourselves in.
“Maybe some existing motel/backpacker stock will become part of the solution for the country’s rental shortage and some owners of accommodation operations located on main arterials in areas facing residential development land constraints may decide that the best and highest use for their property lies outside of the tourist market.”
Johnson says sector change is inevitable, but the opportunity to be part of the market re-set is exciting.
“In the 1980s, our tourism industry slogan was “don’t leave home ‘til you’ve seen the country” and with international borders sealed for the foreseeable future, domestic tourism will be the foundation block in the sector’s regeneration.
“Yes, there will be constraints on disposable incomes and a recalibration of priorities, but Kiwis love to holiday – and they also have a new appreciation for how a country can band together to achieve great things.
“If the country’s ‘bubble’ can extend trans-Tasman to open Australia and New Zealand’s borders, then we’ll be seeing blue skies in the sector again.”
In a recent webinar, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis, Tourism New Zealand chief executive Stephen England-Hall and Air New Zealand's Cam Wallace said the industry needed to be rebooted to face new challenges, opportunities and a different way of working.
Government, industry and businesses all need to collaborate to keep the sector on a phased growth trajectory, promoting domestic tourism in the short term and targeting an international offering in due course.
“We have an opportunity to rethink the entire way we approach tourism to ensure that it will make New Zealand a more sustainable place, enrich the lives of all our people and deliver a sector which is financially self-sustaining in the longer term,” said Davis.
Air New Zealand said it would consider using Singapore as its first international base or hub so it can springboard to new destinations, while Tourism Industry Aotearoa is looking at a digital strategy to target Singapore and Australia.