Offer experiences, add value

10 Dec 2023
Words Informer 109

Offer experiences, add value

Local Agent is an online experience booking platform with a solid customer base on the Gold Coast, where it is headquartered, as well as Tropical North Queensland, the Sunshine Coast, and a growing presence across the rest of Australia and New Zealand.

Started in 2005 as TicketMates and later rebranded Local Agent, the business has over 680 agents and growing, and is the exclusive experience booking platform for marquee hotel brands like Accor, Marriott and Hilton, as well as small, family-run accommodation businesses. The company hopes to have 1,000 active agents by the end of the year, with the ultimate goal of getting Local Agent into every one of Australia’s more than 6,000 accommodation providers.

In this Q&A, General Manager Clint Gudenswager explains what Local Agent is and how it works.

For those unfamiliar with it, what is Local Agent? 

People travel to do things, not stay in their hotel room for the whole stay. They’re here for a reason, to do something, to go to a theme park, or go to a dinner show. Local Agent fills that need.

Let’s say a family visiting the Gold Coast wants to enjoya day out at Movie World. If the hotel or management rights they’re staying at has Local Agent, it enables that family to purchase a Movie World ticket at the hotel from the manager. They’ll get a printed voucher or SMS sent to their phone that they can then scan at Movie World when they arrive. The family can charge it to their room and pay upon checking out of the hotel if they like.

What’s the benefit to the hotel or management rights?

There’s a dual benefit. Firstly, the hotel or management rights is enhancing their guests’ experience by providing an additional service. They’re making it easier for their guests by giving them some information about the region their guests may not have known or giving them some local tips on what they should see and do. The hotel or management rights is then able to book these experiences directly for their guests through an easy-to-use online platform. The second benefit is commission. The hotel or management rights providing this service can earn valuable revenue through Local Agent.

What sort of commission returns can a hotel see?

It depends on how much they use the Local Agent service. Some accommodation providers using Local Agent are making as much as $25,000 extra revenue a year just through commissions. Let’s say an accommodation provider sells a family three-day theme park ticket on the Gold Coast for $716. Ten per cent commission on that is $71.60. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but once you apply a four- or five-times multiplier, it's between $280 and $350 on the one transaction. It’s really icing on the cake for an accommodation business for very little effort — less than a minute to be precise.

What’s the downside?

Honestly, there is none. Local Agent is 100 per cent free to join and there are no fees or other outlays at all. Once an accommodation provider joins, we provide them with everything they need, including all the tools and collateral, whether they display it in their reception, games room or in the guestrooms. We provide the manager with logins to access the portal where they simply tick whatever experiences their guests choose. Local Agent has thousands of experiences across Australia and New Zealand.

How does Local Agent specifically help a management rights business?

Local Agent provides both You Serve and Self-Serve options. You Serve is the process mentioned above. Self-Serve is where an accommodation business can still earn commission when their reception area is closed. Say, for instance, the reception closes at 5 pm. At that time, a lot of families are still coming back from theme parks and attractions and may want to book their outing for the next day. We provide a QR code self-service option, so if reception is closed the manager can put a sign on their front desk to allow guests to book their experiences. That way, the family is happy they’ve been able to book their next experience and the agent still gets the commission. No one misses out. END

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