With March bookings to hand, April firming up and confirmations through to July, The Urban Butler CEO, Jon Lawry is quietly confident, after two years of major disruption, the light has begun to shine at the end of the tunnel.
Currently managing 25 properties across Auckland, the short-term rental specialist said while his books were “not full by any stretch”, business was definitely picking up with March occupancies sitting around the 40 percent mark but at the current pace, he hopes to be well over 50 percent if not 60 percent by the end of the month.
“The number of enquiries per day is increasing along with the reservations,” Mr Lawry said.
Some of the bookings received, he said, have been from people looking to self-isolate from their families or for pre-overseas travel purposes, including one” desperate” family who contacted him in urgent need of somewhere to isolate prior to emigrating to the US.
“The family had sold their home, everything, and needed somewhere to go so they could self-isolate before travelling,” he said.
“We not only found them somewhere to stay, we even stepped up to help them with food and other essentials during their stay. all delivered on a contact-free basis.”
The gradually returning confidence also sees The Urban Butler looking to re-expand its overall portfolio with some aggressive growth plans over 2022/23 with Mr Lawry hoping to sign two new properties this week and a further two in coming days.
Pre-COVID the company’s portfolio sat at around 65 properties including a number of apartments in Auckland’s multi-award winning The Pacifica, which is positioned at the very top of Auckland’s high end residential accommodation offering.
Mr Lawry says he can attribute an element of the current positivity to the government’s decision to drop the self-isolation requirement and announce its staged border reopening.
“What it’s done is increase consumer confidence which is why we are seeing more bookings,” he said.
“People can things are opening up, they can see the borders are relaxing and even though we’re still in a red-light situation and Omicron is booming, people are still happy to move around.”
Looking ahead, Mr Lawry says his focus now is on ramping up for when business kicks back in fully.
“It’s already March, we’ve got bookings in July, when we anticipate school holiday traffic and we’re already seeing booking enquiries for October,” he said.
“We need extra apartments and we need to make sure we are filling them.
“We can see within the next six months things are going to kick off pretty heavily and I would say Australia is a pretty good example of that.
“The main thing is we’ve got all our ducks in a row and that everything is a well-oiled machine so that when things do kick off, we are ready for it.”
Mike Parker-Brown is a UK-trained and qualified journalist and an award-winning travel communicator with more than 30 years experience.
Since 2002, Mike has worked as a freelance writer and PR consultant providing his services to major organisations in Australia and internationally in the tourism, aviation, hospitality, recruitment and export marketing sectors.