In search of the perfect villa

Cecilia Maria Saputri, COO, Villa Finder, shares how its customised scalable technology stack enables the villa rental company to increase efficiency and cater to evolving client needs while keeping personalised experiences at the forefront

What are the key customer trends and new consumer segments you have observed in the current market?
More than ever, our clients are looking for unique experiences. Our concierge team has recently assisted a number of fun requests, such as arranging for helicopter rides and private yachts, decorating a villa for an anniversary and even researching local tattoo parlours for one client!

Our concierge team has always set us apart, and while our customers are from Australia, the US and Europe, we’re seeing an increase in the number of travellers from Asia (Singapore and Indonesia) seeking personalised holiday experiences. It might be their first time experiencing a villa versus a hotel, and with us, they know they can trust the villa experts.

Post-pandemic, the ability for many to work remotely has driven a lot of clients to destinations like Bali, Phuket, and Samui. These clients tend to stay on a longer term. Picture them working by the poolside, savouring the refreshing taste of a freshly made mojito, while embracing the flexibility and comfort of their remote work lifestyle.

How do you set up your business operations and systems to respond to these evolving trends and segments?
We are a technology-driven company with a mission to offer great experiences for clients when staying in a villa.

We invest in our employees to ensure we’re always able to adapt, from our recruitment processes, tailor-made training modules to personal development plans. We create new roles to ensure we can scale, most recently building a growth and research team which comprises digital, marketing, product and UX (user experience) functions.

While our entire business is built around offering great holiday experiences, we conduct a thorough screening process to ensure the quality of our portfolio. This helps us understand each villa’s unique selling point, which translates into a tailored experience for our clients. Our team looks after them throughout the entire stay – from the moment they book with us until they reach their hometown, at no extra charge!

What new value-added products and services have you introduced to your organisation to enable it to grow and remain customer-centric in the current dynamic market conditions?
We embrace technology and love how it allows us to be more efficient so we can focus on the most important part of our roles – looking after our clients. Our CRM is custom-built in-house specifically for our needs, with the goal of simplifying the team’s workflow.

Our team is available seven days a week so that there’s always someone to help a client if they need anything, such as a last-minute nanny, massage, or a reservation for dinner.

Our concierge team also prepares a number of resources for clients travelling to our destinations, such as a series of guidebooks, Island Indulgence, detailing the best attractions, restaurants and spas from experts on the ground.

How did you leverage digital tools to market the new offerings, as well as optimise localisation and integration with new partners’ payment systems?
We consistently challenge our processes, and as part of our growth strategy, we have implemented various tools and technologies to enhance our operations.

Using our in-house built CRM, our development team is able to sync many tools and payment vendors via custom APIs. We have established API connections with property manager systems, channel managers and banking systems, streamlining the flow of information and enabling seamless integration.

Additionally, we have digitised our HR and finance processes, eliminating manual tasks and embracing automation to increase efficiency and accuracy. These measures play a vital role in supporting our expansion and ensuring smoother operations across the organisation.

Less back and forth means more time spent on our clients’ holiday experiences.

With OTAs becoming marketplaces, how do you plan to respond to shifts in the industry value chain to augment your revenue stream?
We provide our clients the flexibility to choose between instant bookings and engaging with our villa experts. We have observed a significant surge in online bookings as more and more clients opt for the convenience of digital transactions.

While we prioritise technology, we also value building long-standing human relationships with our clients and villa owners. We strive for strategic partnerships with villa owners and partners which strengthen our offering as a trustworthy partner.

Over 100 of our properties are marketed exclusively by us as we offer a one-stop solution for villa owners. Our niche market comprises affluent families and groups seeking unique holiday experiences. Our scalable technology stack also ensures personalised experiences remain at the forefront.

Our clients appreciate our expert knowledge and personalised approach. With proficiency in eight languages, we understand the diverse cultures and needs of our clientele.

You will be speaking at the upcoming Digital Travel APAC 2023. What will you be focusing on?
Digital Travel APAC gives me an opportunity to connect with industry leaders, stay updated on the latest trends and gain insights into the future of the travel industry.

On the panel, I plan to share our expertise in leveraging technology to deliver exceptional customer experiences. I will discuss how our scalable technology stack enables us to cater to the evolving needs of our clients while maintaining a personalised touch.

I will also address the importance of collaboration with the right partners to create a strong customer offer. Attendees can expect practical insights on these topics.

Catch Saputri and other progressive business leaders sharing their insights at the upcoming Digital Travel APAC 2023 from August 15 to 16, 2023.

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