AFTER working extensively with the hospitality industry over the past 15 years, Bradley Illich saw frustration among his clients as an opportunity. Now he is reaping the rewards.
Through his IT business Xtreme.com.au, Illich noted many in the tourism sector were struggling with the limitations of their operating systems, including managing bookings, billings and marketing on the one portal.
That prompted him to tackle the problem and in 2010 he established NewBook, an innovative venture that has put the young entrepreneur on a path to global expansion.
Both Xtreme and NewBook have grown to collectively employ close to 30 staff, and turn over more than $4 million annually.
NewBook is a cloud reservation system for properties including hotels, holiday parks, resorts, apartments and villas.
The online system takes bookings and checks guests in and out, and features a complete automated billing system, online booking engine, in-built credit card payment options, direct debit functions, email marketing possibilities and two-way SMS messaging with guests.
The system can even automatically increase or reduce prices of hotel rooms depending on how busy or quiet a period is.
"NewBook is the first and only provider in Australia and the world to offer this range of services from one place, without the customer requiring third-party integrations," says Illich.
"We have just cracked 400 properties world-wide using NewBook and it is growing at a rate of about 20 a month.
"Although it is a very big job for a hotel, resort or holiday park to change the system that runs their entire business, they are opting to do so because our system is so easy to use. Traditionally they could spend 6-12 months changing it, but we can switch someone over in around a month and keep their business running the entire time."
The property management system is doing more than $7 million worth of online bookings per month and has two offices in Australia and one in the UK.
Its Australian offices service clients in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Cook Islands.
Meanwhile, NewBook's UK office works with clients in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Lithuania, US and the United Arab Emirates.
Clients include Australian Tourist Park Management, North Coast Holiday Parks and ASX-listed Ingenia Communities.
Xtreme.com.au, offers a range of IT solutions specialising in the hospitality industry. Its services include web development, Wi-Fi, and installing and operating surveillance cameras.
Illich says it was consulting to Xtreme clients such as Riviera, Hickey Lawyers and NRMA holiday parks that was ultimately the catalyst for establishing NewBook.
"With so many hospitality clients, we were acting as the middleman between them and the property management systems they used to take bookings and manage their property," says Illich.
"Often our clients would be frustrated that there were things they weren't able to do in their system, or the systems weren't suited to their business or the support wasn't good enough.
"We saw a hole in the market and we knew there were people crying out for something else that is why we started NewBook."
Illich says he has expansion plans and aims to build both businesses on the Gold Coast.
"My ultimate goal is to grow much bigger businesses that re not restricted in its growth it is a business where the sky is the limit.
"I would like to see Xtreme be a very serious player in web design, e-commerce, and cloud space and with NewBook I would like to see that system be one that they teach to people at TAFE or university when they are doing a hospitality degree."
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