In 2017, when Matthew and Sara Taverner from Norfolks Moffat Beach were looking to purchase management rights on the Sunshine Coast, they quickly realised the disparity between their aspirations, what they could afford and what the bank would lend.
Fortunately, their broker, Matt Campbell, from Australian Resort Management Sales reached out to industry experts Mike Phipps and Tony Rossiter who offer a transaction management service to find a solution and oversee the process end to end.
Mike Phipps explained: “Working with Tony Rossiter in our joint company, Transaction Management Consultants, we assist purchasers to analyse opportunities in the early stages and ensure the process and outcomes meet the expectations of the group.
“Often management rights purchases involve ongoing negotiations to ensure a mutually acceptable outcome and we certainly get involved to assist the purchaser group. With this purchase at Norfolks, we were dealing with very experienced agents who understood the issues and provided invaluable assistance in achieving a successful partnership result.”
Look into the future... and the ultimate disaster for any business is a dysfunctional partnership. Mike revealed: “When things go wrong I can nearly always trace the problem back to the initial setting of expectations. From the beginning everyone must understand what the group is trying to achieve, and all have a shared goal. Too often, I’ve seen personality conflict that could have been avoided by better matchmaking and ensuring that expectations were in alignment.
“However, in the case of Norfolks we knew that we had a very experienced senior accommodation industry manager in Matthew, and his involvement made the process much easier. Generally, we advise investor groups to only partner with experienced working partners and in Matthew and Sarah we certainly had the right people.”
Working with Trent Pevy of Pevy Lawyers and Peter Brewer of Pbb Consult was also a positive experience. “These guys are pro-active and understand the processes; we didn’t have to re-invent the wheel and that’s a huge help, ensuring a smooth transaction. Their credibility in the industry meant that the outcomes of their reports were taken seriously and that’s a very good thing, particularly if some re-negotiation is required during the process,” Mike admitted.
Readers, think of it this way... Transaction Management Consultants act like traffic cops, working with the lawyer, accountant and the finance function that Mike Phipps Finance provides, aiming to avoid an accident.
Mike added: “My advice to anyone thinking of acquiring a management rights in a partnership structure is to do their homework and only engage industry professionals. Don’t try and manage the process yourself, the task requires an independent and dispassionate approach and that’s what we provide.”
Matthew Taverner, the energetic and enthusiastic new onsite manager of the Norfolks on Moffat Beach – an appealing self-catering apartment resort in one of the most glorious Sunshine Coast beachfront locations.
This intimate apartment resort offers 42 clean, modern, and airy apartments overlooking the stunning Moffat beach, and (according to Matthew) a firm favourite with all ages and demographics; young families, mature travellers, and everyone in-between.
Matthew and Sara Taverner, together with their three sons, are new to the Sunshine Coast, after moving here in January last year. They are also new to the resort industry, purchasing management rights just a few months ago.
However, Matthew is no ‘newbie’ to hospitality...
He has spent the last 33 years in the industry, achieving worldwide success. He holds a master’s degree in Ecologically Sustainable Tourism Planning, he has also led some of the world’s finest resorts, spa resorts, private members clubs and safari lodges in at least eight countries over the past 25 years. Also well-known in the Australian hospitality industry, Matthew was the general manager of Qualia – Australia’s most awarded luxury resort on Hamilton Island.
A lively, outgoing and colourful character, Matthew is a people person who enjoys bantering with guests and making sure their holiday experience exceeds expectations and is highly motivated by positive feedback. While not giving up his day job, he is also a talented artist.
Matthew describes his wife Sara as: “The relatively sane one.”
“She is a passionate educator and has taught in leading international, private independent and state schools, all around the world. She now works coordinating learning support at a local primary school.”
Upon their arrival, they spent around six months researching management rights opportunities. Matthew explained: “Being relatively unfamiliar with this location, we looked at many different complexes of varying sizes and economies of scale: from Coolum Beach in the north, Maroochydore, Mooloolaba through to Caloundra and Golden Beach in the south.
“It soon became apparent that there was some disparity between what we sought in terms of our aspirations, what we could afford and what the bank would lend us!
“Fortunately, assistance arrived in the guise of the ever-patient Matt Campbell, our broker from Australian Resort Management Sales. He is well versed in all resort industry matters and was also in discussions with the owners of Norfolks on Moffat Beach, as they were firming up plans for their future. We had several meetings with him, in the cafés across from Norfolks and this allowed us time to absorb the property, its tremendous appeal and everything that Moffat beach offers in terms of lifestyle and the unpretentious vibe we love.
“Given the scale of the investment required, introductions were made to Mike Phipps Finance and Tony Rossiter of Holmans Accountants – both very respected industry figures. Plans were forged to bring together a partnership to acquire the rights to the property. Now we have supportive silent partners in alliance and the rest - as they say - is history.”
Some new-comers to the resort industry may enter it with rose-coloured glasses but after such a long career in hospitality, Matthew thoroughly understood the commitment and demand of the onsite resort manager role.
“The expected sharp learning curve of taking on a resort manager role, has not been as acute as it might have been, if I’d joined from another occupation or industry background. Managements rights is all about grass roots hospitality, aside from the idiosyncrasies that each complex may present. For instance: the fire alarms may go off unexpectedly or the lift breaks down (both will inevitably fail on public holidays by the way) and so it’s about having common sense - this and offering genuine intuitive service,” he said.
“Moreover, it pays to recognise that this role takes up a significant commitment in your time and energy, and the perfect work/life balance we all aspire to is uncannily difficult to achieve. I imagined living just 100ms from ‘Moffs’ (a fabulous surf break) would bring me closer to one of my mid-life ambitions... learning to surf. Here is the reality: my time spent in MR ownership is now over nine months, while my swims in the ocean adds up to three, and my time spent surfing is zero hours!”
Matthew manages the business, assisted by a very small team.
He joked: “Sara has the presence of mind to maintain a ‘real job’ in education so she does not get roped in too often to assist. This said, school holidays dovetail nicely with her availability over these times and levels of business – funny that!
“I am also supported by a very competent front office administrator and grounds/maintenance person, both in part time capacities and the complex’s housekeeping service is outsourced.”
Norfolks on Moffat Beach is a 24-year-old property and is overseen by an “engaged and competent” body corporate who appreciate the need to maintain the resort in optimal condition and presentation.
Matthew stated: “What is presently being witnessed is an incremental improvement with the product offered, the look and feel of the guest accommodation and the overall guest experience.”
Even after years in the industry, Mathew still enjoys people.
“Treating my guests as I would wish to be treated comes to me with ease. I also find satisfaction in improving our offer, in yield management and business development.”
Finally, Matthew praises the team of staff, body corporate and industry professionals who have played a part in the successful transition of the resort into Matthew’s experienced hands and the ownership by a syndicate.
Resort News asked Matthew for his best advice and his typically modest reply was: “I do not profess to be an expert in this curious industry we call management rights. But, you can ask me again in five years!”