Qualia Hamilton Island

For its end of financial year 2016 market update, Hamilton Island has reported it has achieved the highest hotel occupancy levels on record of 93.2%, representing an 8% increase on the previous year’s record-breaking figure.

Hamilton Island’s CEO, Glenn Bourke, said it was pleasing to see the Island continuing to achieve incredibly strong occupancy results year after year, with the Island also reporting a 15% increase in annual room revenue on the back of room nights sold, which were up by 11% on 2015.

“Hamilton Island’s results have been underpinned by three things: the multi-million dollar reinvestment strategy to keep the Island’s offering updated and fresh; the lower Australian Dollar; and healthy competition among Australian’s airlines, bringing more guests to the Island,” he said.

“The legacy Mr Bob Oatley has left the business, following his passing at the beginning of 2016, is immense, and we continue to deliver on his vision for Hamilton Island.

“The Oatley family’s ongoing commitment to reinvest significant capital each year has proven correct. Our primary focus is to continue to create a better ambience each time our guests visit, and we have some guests who have visited more than a dozen times. As a result, in excess of $25 million is invested each year to ensure our premium holiday offering remains fresh and appealing with new and improved accommodation and activities.

“Importantly, we are now seeing the strongest repeat business ever registered, with 30% of total bookings accounting for repeat business, which is testament to the service and unique offering the Island delivers to guests. Linked to this, we are seeing our guests taking greater numbers of short escapes to the Island to rejuvenate,” Bourke said.

The lower Australian Dollar and improved Island access also supported the strong increase in booking numbers over the past 12 months from both domestic guests, up by 7.5%, and international guests, up by 13%. The significant increase in bookings reinforces Hamilton Island’s position as one of the world’s premier holiday destinations.

Domestic booking growth was led by Victoria (up 13%), NSW (up 7%). Inbound bookings saw impressive growth of 23% from the UK, 20% from Japan and 18% from China.

Interestingly, the volume of room nights sold (RNS) for the H1 2016 was up 6% on the same time last year and was slightly subdued due to reduced airline capacity, particularly on the Melbourne route; however volume in H2 2016 was up a pleasing 17% due to strong demand and increased airline capacity partly helped by Qantas’ re-introduction of direct flights to and from Melbourne and Hamilton Island, plus additional flights from Brisbane and Sydney, which effectively replaced the Jetstar shortfall, and Virgin’s capacity on the Melbourne-Hamilton Island route was up 16% for the year.

“Thanks to our highly-experienced operations team, the increased business growth has not impacted the all-important customer experience, with the Island’s net promoter score (NPS) up 5%,” Bourke said. “Also, pleasingly, our employee retention rate has increased by more than 7%.”

The Island’s award-winning luxury resort, qualia, achieved guest satisfaction of 95% for FY16. It also recorded an extremely busy 12 months as well as strong forward bookings, with waiting lists in place for most weekends from now until November.

Hamilton Island’s Airport acts as the gateway to the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef. During FY2016, airport movements increased by 20,000 passengers, exceeding 500,000 for the first time.

Movements for H1 2016 were 3% below the same corresponding period last year mainly due to reduced capacity on the Melbourne route; however movements in H2 2016 were boosted by 13% due to increased airline capacity and strong demand.

Load factors for the major capital cities remained strong despite the significant increase in capacity in the second half, with Sydney at 81%, Brisbane 79% and Melbourne 75%.

Qantas Executive Manager Global Sales, Steve Limbrick, said Hamilton Island was a popular destination for leisure travellers on the airline’s domestic network.

“We’re pleased to offer a premium service that connects our customers to one of their favourite holiday destinations,” he said.

“Demand for our direct services from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Cairns is strong year round with major peaks occurring over school holiday periods.

“The route has also seen International visitor growth match our capacity increases over the past 12 months, with many tourists choosing to fly to Hamilton Island to start their exploration of the Great Barrier Reef and Whitsundays region,” Limbrick said.

Bourke said the outlook for Hamilton Island in 2017 is positive, partly as a result of capacity increases from Qantas and Virgin, and ongoing strong demand. Forward sales and bookings for Q1 are above last year and in line with forecasts.

However, he said the already high-occupancy levels achieved in peak months will impact the overall revenue growth rate in 2017, meaning the previous industry-beating, double-digit growth rate achieved in the preceding four years will not be matched and is expected to move into steady single-digit territory, with hotel occupancy levels remaining around 93%.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management