Coco Palm Re­sort part­ners with Avvio to drive di­rect book­ings

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

As you'd ex­pect from a lux­ury Caribbean re­sort, Coco Palm is the clos­est thing to par­adise a trav­eller can hope to find. Pic­ture wak­ing up to trop­i­cal splen­dour and bird­song, with a sur­round­ing of lush gar­dens and palm trees. Pic­ture throw­ing open your lux­ury Swim Up room doors to a pool bathed in sun­light and later, sit­ting at the pool-side re­sort bar, sip­ping a Caribbean cock­tail at the 3.5 star re­sort.

Op­er­ated and man­aged by the brother and sis­ter team of Allen and Fe­olla Chas­tanet, Fe­olla took the helm when her brother be­came the now Prime Min­is­ter of Saint Lu­cia in June 2016. Both opened the bou­tique Coco Palm re­sort near Rod­ney Bay in the North West of the is­land in 2005. A ho­tel in­dus­try vet­eran, Allen had al­ready helped launch the Is­land Out­post ho­tel group in Ja­maica in the 1990s, and had a vi­sion to open his own re­sort that would de­liver an au­then­tic Caribbean ex­pe­ri­ence with ex­cel­lent round-the-clock ser­vice to make ev­ery guest feel like a VIP.

Coco Palm turns that vi­sion into a re­al­ity. With a va­ri­ety of spa and beauty treat­ments and beau­ti­ful gar­dens of lush green grass and trees pink with hi­bis­cus, the 103-room re­sort com­bines an au­then­tic Caribbean at­mos­phere with stylish, con­tem­po­rary decor. Guests can get a real taste of life in Saint Lu­cia at the re­sort res­tau­rant, Ti Bananne (cre­ole for Lit­tle Ba­nana) which serves tra­di­tional is­land dishes.

No trip to the Caribbean is com­plete with­out some trop­i­cal mu­sic and the re­sort does not dis­ap­point. On a Fri­day even­ing, guests can kick back lis­ten­ing to a live ca­lypso band, while tuck­ing into an ex­otic is­land buf­fet.

The ho­tel of­fers air­port trans­porta­tion and ex­cur­sions, with ev­ery­thing from hot choco­late tours to sun­set cruises to ad­ven­ture days and more. De­liv­er­ing un­matched per­sonal ser­vice, the Coco Palm team work hard to en­sure ev­ery guest ex­pe­ri­ences par­adise.

It's one thing to de­liver ex­cep­tional per­sonal ser­vice in-house but it's a whole dif­fer­ent game to re­flect this ser­vice on­line and, in the dig­i­tal age, it be­comes only more cru­cial for a ho­tel's suc­cess. So Coco Palm has part­nered with Avvio, the world's lead­ing di­rect book­ing plat­form and dig­i­tal agency for ho­tels and other ac­com­mo­da­tion providers to en­sure their guests' on­line brows­ing and book­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is just as seam­less as their stay.

Mark Fer­gu­son was ap­pointed Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of the re­sort in April 2017. Mark ex­plains his rea­sons for part­ner­ing with Avvio: “Un­til now we haven't re­ally re­flected the unique Coco Palm brand across our dig­i­tal chan­nels and I'm ea­ger to max­imise our core brand value, which is why I've cho­sen Avvio to help with that mes­sage de­liv­ery.

"I had two very strong rec­om­men­da­tions to look at the Avvio prod­uct; one from the gen­tle­men that in­stalled Avvio at the Mer­rion in Dublin thir­teen years ago and one from an ac­count man­ager at Ideas. I was sold on Avvio once I had spo­ken to Rich Tuck­well, Avvio's VP of Sales and Mar­ket­ing, on what they can do to lift my di­rect chan­nel pro­gramme.”

This dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion is quite a shift from how Coco Palm has been run so far and Mark is keen to try out a wide va­ri­ety of Avvio's soft­ware and ser­vices to de­ter­mine the most ef­fec­tive strat­egy to show­case the re­sort on­line.

Mark says, “I want us to in­te­grate this tech­nol­ogy into the busi­ness and tai­lor it with my team to en­sure we max­imise the ben­e­fit to our guests. I think it's im­por­tant with such a big shift in mind­set and man­age­ment that we ex­plore and test ev­ery avail­able av­enue and use as much of the func­tion­al­ity as pos­si­ble. It re­ally is a to­tal shift from what hap­pens in the in­de­pen­dent ho­tel arena in the Caribbean. In many ways, it's al­most a re-ed­u­ca­tion. Coco Palm will be go­ing through ex­ten­sive changes over the next eigh­teen months and this tech­nol­ogy up­grade is the start of that evo­lu­tion.”

Due to the fact that the Coco Palm re­sort is owned and run by the en­tire Chas­tanet fam­ily, guests ex­pect the prop­erty to be ahead of all com­pe­ti­tion. There's huge pres­sure on the team to en­sure the prop­erty is al­ways at the top of its game, al­ways ad­vanc­ing, al­ways de­liv­er­ing ex­cep­tional per­sonal ser­vice, both on­line and off­line. With Avvio's help, the re­sort will be able to meet and ex­ceed th­ese high ex­pec­ta­tions with ease.

Mark ex­plains: “Given the Chas­tanets' in­volve­ment in the is­land, peo­ple have an in­ter­est in what busi­ness de­ci­sions are made. As such, peo­ple look at Coco Palm in a dif­fer­ent way to our com­pe­ti­tion and they fol­low what we're do­ing, so we have to make sure we have very clean de­liv­ery and we can't stand still.”

Mark em­braces the chal­lenge with en­thu­si­asm. When we asked him what it was like to run a prop­erty owned by the Chas­tanet fam­ily, Mark told us, “So far it has been full-on with both ho­tel and food and bev­er­age and we've noted a lot of things that we want to ad­dress and change. The fam­ily has given me full scope to push the busi­ness for­ward em­brac­ing tech­nol­ogy. I'm work­ing very closely with Allen's sis­ter, Fe­olla Chas­tanet, to drive that process. I al­most feel I like I've been adopted into the fam­ily. It has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence so far and one that I hope will last for a while.”

Hav­ing worked as the Re­gional Fi­nance Man­ager of Sandals, the huge Caribbean hol­i­day re­sort group, Mark went on to say, “My role at Sandals was very much fo­cused on fi­nan­cial process and con­trols, a lot of which we can use here at Coco Palm to help us grow the busi­ness. We have al­ready started look­ing at some of the back-of-house fi­nance pro­cesses, par­tic­u­larly in food and bev­er­age con­trol. But there's a lot that all ho­tel com­pa­nies can learn from Sandals.

"I guess my role here is very much fo­cused on the en­tire op­er­a­tion and ef­fec­tively chang­ing the busi­ness process to be­come more com­pet­i­tive and, ul­ti­mately, en­hance the prof­itabil­ity of the Coco Palm prop­erty and brand. I have al­ways been a hote­lier at heart and I love be­ing here in Saint Lu­cia. It isn't where I thought I'd end up, but at this point it is very much my home!”

Mark and the rest of the Coco Palm team work closely with TheHar­borClub, a brand new prop­erty due to open in Saint Lu­cia in Septem­ber 2017. Com­pris­ing seven storeys and 115 lux­ury suites, The Har­borClub is an­other project in which Allen Chas­tanet was in­stru­men­tal since its in­cep­tion over four years ago. The Har­borClub has also cho­sen Avvio as its book­ing en­gine and dig­i­tal ser­vices provider, as a way to drive the new prop­erty's di­rect book­ings from the mo­ment it opens its doors to the public.

Rich Tuck­well, who will be Coco Palm's Con­ver­sions Man­ager at Avvio, says, “Avvio is de­lighted to be work­ing with th­ese two grow­ing prop­er­ties, in such a stun­ning lo­ca­tion, help­ing to drive the dig­i­tal growth that the iconic re­sorts de­serve.”

Staff of the Coco Palm Re­sort. Coco palm re­cently part­nered with Avvio as its book­ing en­gine and dig­i­tal ser­vices provider.

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