We invited Isabela Stefanovici, Representative at Istra Fortuna, to tell us more about their success story and how PMS and channel manager were crucial to accomplishing their goals.
How did Istra Fortuna story start?
Istra Fortuna is not a typical pre-planned project. Everything started in the early 2000s, while Mr. Wiesmeyer was on holiday in Croatia. His car broke down while he was in the region of Labin on his way back to Austria. Since he had to wait for three days for his car to get repaired, he was walking around and found two old hotels in a disastrous state. Hotels were called Istra and Fortuna and well known from Yugoslavia and “Tito times”.
As a typical visioner and a project developer, he found these hotels very interesting and thought about investing in a foreign country since he already had international experience. What happened is that this holiday idea turned into a serious project with a public tender procedure. Three months later, he was the owner of two hotels. Unconventional, a bit wild, and spectacular.
What is your unique offering?
Since Istra Fortuna apartments were built with the idea to be sold to private owners as holiday residencies our story in tourism started quite unexpectedly. After selling the apartments to the private owners, most of the owners wanted to rent out their apartments for touristic purposes and targeted on achieving their return on investment. Very few team members at Istra Fortuna had experience in tourism at that point.
Our biggest strength today is in our authenticity and building authentic relationships with our guests. To be in harmony with the region, Istra Fortuna was constructed with local materials and by working with local companies. For example, we used stone from Pazin – kanfanar and kirmenjak (Istrian stone) which were used for more than 200 years in construction in Istria and for constructing the basal zone of Venetian buildings since the 13th century. Red frames on the Istra Fortuna building are attached to the idea of red earth in Istria. Frames are also a tribute to the old way of building in Yugoslavia. Guests love the authenticity behind the project.
What is your biggest success?
After 3 operating seasons, we already have over 30% of recurring guests. Amazing, when you look at classical tourism statistics, which are predicting 5 to 10 years to establish a reputation. After 3 seasons, we managed to have guests coming back 6th time already. Our development in the tourism business wouldn’t be possible without using great software – primarily effective channel manager and simple to use property management systems such as Rentlio.
In relation to your growth, how PMS and a channel manager helped?
When we started, we did not use a channel manager or any specialized software. We were doing everything manually for one whole season: this included manual channel monitoring and working with Excel most of the time – quite stressful. Immediately after we started using Rentlio, we noticed instant growth. We accessed leading online platforms, and Rentlio made it super easy to monitor everything, play with the different channels, and know where to push or reduce sales when needed.
What do you love about Rentlio?
We are planning to expand to 52 apartments in total starting next year. Expansion is not going to change anything in terms of Rentlio. Usually, when you are growing, you need to think of, not only physical development but about expanding your operating concepts. With Rentlio, there is no need to develop your operating concepts. Once you set everything with Rentlio, you can quickly scale up. 100 units? Not a problem. We are just going to insert new units, connect them on a channel manager and voila.
What are some of the things you would love to see added to Rentlio in the future?
We are not missing much, and we are using the full potential of Rentlio by renting 19 apartments from a total of 21 in the building. If I’d have to think hard, housekeeping feature would be a great edition with records for the housekeeping department.
What industry trend is going to dominate in the next two years and how it’s going to affect you?
Trends that are already dominating are artificial intelligence, virtual reality, smart keys, video check-ins – beneficial technology. VR is already used to present accommodations and making everyone a part of it. Thanks to VR guests know what to expect in advance, but hi-tech will not be the main part of Istra Fortuna.
We want to provide our guests with authentic and personal experiences – everything that is not possible when you use VR. What everybody else from our recurring guests loves about Istra Fortuna is a genuinely personal approach to our guests. We love to connect with them and to promote this region. Relationships with our guests are a top priority. The concept of “welcome home” is our secret to success. This would be the closest to the familiar environment but in a luxury apartment. We want them to feel like they really lived and experienced Croatia and not just rented an apartment.
Story created: August, 2019