Voyages Indigenous Tourism claims to have delivered on the promises it made when it took over Ayers Rock Resort, after a year of evolution at the property.
Executive general manager Ray Stone told Travel Today the firm needs to deliver the message that things have changed in line with commitments it made when it took over the resort in 2011.
A $38 million refurbishment has included the complete makeover of its Sails in the Desert hotel, the opening of events space Uluru Meeting Place, an upgrade of service levels and the introduction of a program of free guest activities.
In addition, the firm has addressed its value for money proposition in response to consumer feedback.
“It’s always going to be an expensive destination because it’s in the middle of Australia and we have to bring stuff there,” Stone said.
“But there are a lot of things we’ve done to address the issue both on the quality side of the value equation and the price side.”
Tactical pricing is part of that strategy, along with an emphasis on providing authentic aboriginal experiences.
“We think it’s really important they’re authentic because of our ownership,” he said. “Most of the activities reflect the culture of the local Anangu culture and one or two from other parts of Australia.”
But the work is by no means done, with Stone stressing Voyages is “always looking” for new ways to draw people to the property.
“Our marketing challenge is not really awareness – we have a great level of awareness. It’s doing as much as we can to ensure people shift into a buying behaviour,” he said.
A significant emphasis will therefore be placed on events, such as the Outback Marathon to be held in July and a new Anzac Day festival to kick off next year in addition to conferences and incentives for its new Meeting Place. Business events are expected to account for 20% of overall business within two years of the centre’s opening, up from just 3%.
Meanwhile, Stone confirmed a “difficult climate”, with both international and domestic sales tracking slightly below last year.
“We’ll finish up the year one or two points down,” he said. “I’m quite pleased with that performance.”