Working within the holiday industry, we want nothing more than for our businesses to flourish and grow. On a recent episode of That Bad Review, I spoke with Simon Owen, the CEO of Ingenia Communities – the leading Australian affordable community housing provider, predominantly aimed towards older demographics. Recently, they have been expanding their reach, and acquired a new revenue stream by venturing into the holiday accommodation market.
Simon has seen that herein lies an invaluable lesson – by reaching out to people, empowering team members and respecting those ingrained within the communities, you develop a more prosperous business.
Empower Your Staff
As many of us in the industry know bad news travels fast. When that happens, your reputation is at stake, this is why investment in your team is paramount, and giving them the capability to step in and diffuse a situation before it gets too ugly.
Your focus should be training your frontline staff and empowering them with the authority and autonomy to deal with customers on every level.
Listen and Learn
Staff feedback is another crucial component in developing the way your business functions. Simon loves to get right to the core, and spends at least two days a week among the community. He speaks with staff members one on one, in a relaxed capacity – usually cooking up a steak – all in order to get their opinions on issues that need to be addressed. Logistically it can be time consuming, but it’s incredibly important and will garner you respect.
Understand Your Target Community
Some of the older, more established premises that Simon oversees have both elderly permanent residents and tourists commingled. These two demographics seem to work alongside each other in relative harmony, but for some of the newer locations there is the potential for issues to arise.
You may have excitable holiday makers that are full of energy, up all hours and making merry, which could be in stark contrast to the older residents who require a more relaxing atmosphere. Simon has made the executive decision to separate the two, and develop zones for families and permanent residents. It was a conclusion that Simon came to by interacting with the community and the residents, “The knowledge and the wisdom that they’re prepared to share is great.”
Invest in understanding the needs of the entire community, and develop a structure based around that. The more people that feel heard and part of a community, the more supporters you’ll have for your business.
Respect A Legacy
Ingenia is on the lookout for more properties, but rather than taking a ruthless approach of just chucking money at park owners, they sit down with the current venders, talk and build a relationship.
I think we can all establish the high level of investment that people put into establishing a brand, and Simon strives to have the present owner’s input within the transition by not taking away anything from the business.
Often, Ingenia will employ the previous owner as a consult to advise on how best to improve systems across multiple parks due to their wealth of first-hand knowledge.
Respecting, listening to and engaging with all the people who come into contact within your business will encourage genuine advocates for your brand.
Listen to the full episode here.