athoc

Fringe Benefits Tax – Don’t get caught out this silly season

chlogoComing into the festive season, many people are planning the all-important Christmas party, and while it is the time for celebration, it pays to be aware of the possible tax implications of lavish celebrations.

Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) applies where an employer provides a benefit to an employee other than their regular salary or wage.

At first instance a Christmas party could be considered such a benefit, depending on the circumstances of the party. However, the Christmas party could be exempt from FBT if its value is less than $300 per employee.

Due Diligence before decking the halls…

We’ve put together a few different scenarios to help you understand FBT implications for Christmas parties and should you have specific questions regarding your circumstances please contact your local Crowe Horwath advisor.

Christmas party held on the business premises

Your business decides to have a party on its premises on a working day before Christmas and you provide food, beer and wine.

The implications would be as follows:

1214-5

Christmas party held off the business premises

You decide to hold your Christmas function at a restaurant on a working day before Christmas and provide meals, drinks and entertainment.

The implications would be as follows:

1214-4

Christmas gifts

The following table briefly summarises the general FBT (and other tax) consequences for an employer providing Christmas gifts, based on the ATO’s guidelines.

1214-3

Determining the best approach in which entertainment may be treated for FBT purposes can be complex. Contact your local Crowe Horwath advisor to discuss possible tax implications.

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, Business, Consumer Tips & Advice, Crowe Horwath | Leave a comment

New ULTIQA Lifestyle brand is launched

1214-2The new ULTIQA Lifestyle brand sits under the ULTIQA umbrella and offers its members the same great benefits of being part of a worldwide leisure and travel community with the added bonus of accessing better rates at ULTIQA Resorts, which currently has six properties under its management rights portfolio.

Headed by Managing Director, Mark Henry commenced re-branding to ULTIQA to better reflect the growth and success of the business model since establishing in Australia in 2001.

“ULTIQA is a fresh, new name with a look and feel that embraces the many improvements and innovations introduced for our members over the years.

“Due to the success of our resort management company, we have created one brand identity for our two business divisions being ULTIQA Lifestyle and ULTIQA Resorts,” Mr Henry added.

“The ULTIQA name is an adaptation of ‘ultra-modern boutique apartments’ and captures the ultimate quality members can expect from our properties and member services whether it be for business or leisure travel.

“Whilst the name has changed, ULTIQA Lifestyle members’ benefits remain exactly the same and the company is still part of the well-established, worldwide leisure and travel community. ULTIQA Lifestyle members will still have access to all the benefits they have enjoyed, plus being able to tap into great offers from ULTIQA’s own managed and expanding resort portfolio.

“We plan to continue to focus on growth through the acquisition of new properties each year while also broadening our reach to business and conferencing guests through improved online marketing channels and maintaining our existing business channels,” Mr Henry said.

“By establishing the ULTIQA brand, we are creating an identity that is both aspirational and attainable and a name that is synonymous with consistent quality, desirable locations and most importantly, excellent member benefits.” Mr Henry added.

For further information, visit www.ultiqalifestyle.com.au

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, Homegrown | Leave a comment

Classic Holidays’ Work Inspiration Program hits high note in 2014

PrintClassic Holidays has hosted a record number of local high school students for the Work Inspiration Program throughout 2014.

Over 100 students participated in the unique work experience program, run in conjunction with the Smith Family’s Partnership Brokers, with four programs at the Head Office, and Grounds and Reception programs hosted at Sandy Point and Golden Shores Resorts.

In 2014, Classic Holidays extended the program to students from Varsity College, Helensvale High, Palm Beach Currumbin High, Emmanuel College, and Southport High.

Work Inspiration is all about giving students the right tools to find out about themselves, to work on their strengths and achieve their true potential by encouraging and motivating them,” said Sandy Point Resort Manager and Work Inspiration Co-ordinator, Julia Whitton.

“The program is open to all students in Year 10, however a lot of the students who participated were at risk of dropping out of school altogether,” she said.

“We also hosted the first pilot of a Disability Program, run through BUSY at Work, involving students with low level disabilities from two local schools as well as two school leavers. This was a very successful program and some great bonds were made with the Classic Holidays mentors.”

Classic Holidays’ Chief Operating Officer, Carole Smith, said 2014 was an extremely successful year of Work Inspiration following the pilot program in 2013. “The results have been outstanding – not only for the students, but within our organisation as well,” said Ms Smith.

“In 2015, we are looking to develop the program even further. Through the help of Classic Holidays, additional resources have been developed to extend the benefits of the Work Inspiration Program around Australia.

“We will also be working more closely with selected schools to strengthen relationships with the school and students to get the most out of the program.”

This will include continuing the mentoring role beyond the office, checking in with the students on a regular basis, assisting them with resumes and encouraging them with everything from getting a part time job to achieving their personal goals.

“The feedback from students involved in the program is phenomenal, and we’ve even seen students who have dropped out of school become motivated to continue their studies at TAFE.

“It has been exciting for Classic Holidays to be part of the development of Work Inspiration – it is such a ground breaking way to connect with these students and guide them through meaningful support and friendship.

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, Classic Holidays News | Leave a comment

Classic’s Beach House Resort celebrates 30 years with plaza upgrade

1214-1Classic Holidays property, Beach House Seaside Resort in Coolangatta, has celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2014, with major upgrades to the Beach House Commercial Plaza now complete.

The three-month refurbishment was completed in late September and Classic Holidays’ Chief Commercial Officer Carole Smith said the renovations have brought the retail and restaurant precinct back to life.

“The new look alfresco dining features have brightened up the Plaza, making it an even more attractive place to dine and shop for guests staying at Beach House Resort,” said Ms Smith.

“Some of the restaurants have been open for more than 20 years and are extremely popular with all of our guests, as well as the local community.

“The Plaza is the first thing people see as they come around the iconic Kirra Point, and now with new featured decking and neon signage, it’s looking very fresh and modern.”

Originally the Beach House Guest House, Beach House Seaside Resort opened in 1984 as a timeshare resort and has enjoyed incredible success under the management of Classic Holidays, achieving 99% occupancy year round as well as winning several awards.

The history of Beach House has been commemorated with old photographs and memorabilia displayed in on a Memorial Wall located in the Resort.

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, Classic Holidays News, Homegrown | Leave a comment

DAE Members Love Their Timeshare Resorts

DAEMembers of worldwide exchange provider DAE have named their top three favourite timeshare resorts in Australia.

To celebrate International Timeshare Appreciation Day on 1 November, DAE ran an ‘I Love My Timeshare’ competition throughout the month of November calling on members to vote for their favourite timeshare resorts for the chance to win one of eight free bonus weeks.

Over 3,000 DAE members from around the globe participated in the competition to support the industry’s official day of celebration, each voting for their top three timeshare resorts.

“Our Australian members have voted with their clicks, and named Sunraysia Resort in Mildura, Victoria, Boambee Bay in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, and the Gold Coast’s Beach House Resort as their favourite Australian timeshare resorts,” said CEO of DAE, Francis Taylor.

“We had a fantastic response from DAE members, showing how much they love their timeshare, and the resorts that make this industry so special.

“Congratulations to these top three Australian resorts for continuing to provide fantastic experiences for our members.”

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, DAE (Dial An Exchange), Homegrown | Leave a comment

Ice Vacations gearing up for their biggest season ever

ICEAs we come into Christmas – New Year period we all start planning for the next year, what marketing campaigns we will run, what focus we will have, building on new products and rejuvenating the tried and true. For many it’s a time of reflection on what went well and what needed improving throughout 2014, how the team is faring and how we can target our customers with more efficiency and energy.

Rather than winding down, ICE Vacations are gearing up for their biggest season ever – more consultants, more customers and best of all more bookings! “Our prime concern is of course our customers,” says Kevin Sharp, CEO “giving them a great variety with the best deals possible in the marketplace is what we’re about, as well as innovative ideas and cutting edge technology to deliver them ASAP.”

ICE Vacation’s reputation has put them at the forefront of the industry in terms of innovation, customer satisfaction and highly trained and experienced cruise and travel consultants. Wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas and New Year, from ICE Vacations.

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, ICE Vacations | Leave a comment

A Mosquito Interrupted My Guest Experience

MosquitoBy Roberta Nedry

Late afternoon, lazing in our cabana chairs outside our room, next to the pool, overlooking the beach, waiting for our first cocktail as sunset approached. Our guest experience so far was dreamy and our boutique hotel setting exquisite. We loved our room, the ambiance and the feelings we were having. We were comfortable, relaxed and happy with our hotel choice. Then, a high pitched buzzing noise, the sense of something flying nearby, the disturbing sight of a black insect landing on my leg, the stinging slap to end its life, a small squish of blood, a new bump and the realization that the itching would soon begin. A MOSQUITO had interrupted my Guest Experience! And, he brought friends.

Soon, we could think of nothing else and exquisite turned to annoying as more mosquitoes showed up. Our cocktails and sunset toast were neglected as we began a series of calls to solve a problem we would not have expected to have in this luxury setting. We were now uncomfortable, stressed and unhappy with the hotel for not taking care of this before our sunset experience began. Our call to the manager led to an explanation that their elaborate mosquito prevention system was broken. He sent a housekeeper to our room to “spray” but she did not speak English, did not understand the problem, thought it was inside, and not outside and simply offered to vacuum and spray air freshener. We declined her offer, left our cozy patio ambiance and headed to the bar. We told the bartender about our frustrations and that we were quite surprised the hotel did not proactively manage this insect intrusion nor know how to handle the intruders after they arrived. She jumped right in with her own frustrations noting the tiny monsters also bit her and her fellow employees regularly and that the hotel did not seem to care or help. She said the mosquitoes were often a distraction to her job and that she was less focused on the guest while she was battling the icky itches. She finally starting coming to work with her own mosquito prevention equipment and offered to share her can of bug spray. We eagerly accepted and started spraying up a storm.

Tiny annoyances like these can turn into gigantic upsets and leave guests with experiences they want to forget instead of remember.

What’s interesting is how hoteliers and hospitality leaders may or may not be responding to these interruptions and how they are preparing their staff and teams to handle them if and when they happen.

In the case of the invading mosquitoes, the hotel team knew that this time of year was more mosquito intensive but did not have a plan in place to address it or alert the guests. The housekeeper who was sent to our room had no idea that she played a role in the guest experience and simply had a job to do. She had not been oriented to approach the situation from the guest’s point of view and to what would make that guest more comfortable. She did not connect to the situation or the guests and simply went about the tasks she was assigned. She was there for at least 15 minutes, more time than we spent with any other employee in the hotel. She was not empowered nor in tune with the experience underway and did not even want to speak to the guests. She simply wanted to get her job done. This caused the feeling of “interruption” to be even stronger with the guests when a “connection”, empathy and a positive outcome were what were needed.

Then, when the employee at the bar shared a similar experience and frustration, we knew the interruption continued far beyond the mosquito. The interruption was actually a disconnect between the hotel employees and the guest experience. While great moments had been scripted for guests in this beautiful boutique hotel setting, those moments did not flow together into one seamless experience and had not been coordinated nor managed from an overall experience perspective. The employees were trying to do a good job but they were individually focused and not linked together as a chain in experience and seamless service delivery. The employees were interrupted from delivering a good experience, which in turn interrupted the guests from receiving a good experience.

Are there areas of the guest experience where more interruptions take place than others? Are there certain employees or departments who receive less training on guest experience management such as housekeeping in the example above? Are individual tasks prioritized over coordinated service delivery and continuity? How well are employees prepared to handle interruptions? And how often, do procedures intended to support the guest experience end up interrupting them instead?

“A Smoke Alarm interrupted their Guest Experience”

Mosquito articleImage Courtesy of Shutterstock/PathDoc

At a beautiful boutique resort, the smoke alarm went off at 11pm. The two guests, in their 80’s, who were almost asleep, panicked looking for a fire, called the front desk immediately and were told engineering would be right up. There was no fire but engineering was not right up. Luckily the alarm stopped on its own before engineering got there. When the engineer did arrive, he took a cursory look and said all looked fine. There was no emotion or empathy about the disturbance or late hour. No follow up or concern by front desk. No acknowledgement about the interruption.

At 7am the next morning, the smoke alarm went off again in the same room. This time, both of the elderly guests were sound asleep and so their reactions were more frightened and stunned. They called the front desk immediately and were told again that an engineer would be right up. The alarm kept blaring and the guests called the front desk two more times asking when the engineer would come and stop the shrill sound. The alarm continued for 15 minutes straight until one of the guests finally stood on a chair and pulled out the batteries from the alarm, not a great thing for an 80 year old to do?

The engineer showed up a few minutes later, noted that the battery should have been changed a few months earlier and had been overlooked. Unfortunately these elderly guests had to pay the price of lost sleep and unexpected anxiety for this two time loud interruption. There was no apology or empathy as it was happening, no acknowledgement of the trauma this had caused the guests, twice now, and no solution offered initially to make up for their discomfort. There was also no follow up or response by the front desk other than to schedule time to replace the battery.

In these interruption scenarios, housekeeping and engineering were called in to address the situation yet neither one seemed to recognize their role in the guest experience. They did recognize they had a job to do, a procedure to perform and problem to try to solve. They had not been trained on how to make an emotional connection with the guest. They were not skilled or trained in service recovery. They were not oriented to their role and link in the chain of the guest experience. And their own experience and effectiveness was diminished by having to interact with dissatisfied guests and unrewarding outcomes and not knowing how to handle them.

Engineering and housekeeping spend a good percentage of their time on interruptions and things that need “fixing” with guests. Yet, how much time is spent with these two departments relative to other areas of the hotel as it relates to guest experience training? Do employees in these areas understand the behaviors essential to interacting with guests in stressful or less than wonderful moments? Do they understand the skills required for effective service recovery or do they even recognize when they are needed? Do they feel empowered to take charge and play a stronger and more emotional role in the guest experience that would allow both them and the guest to feel better?

Oftentimes, these departments are not a focus of guest service training or emphasis and yet they may end up spending more time with guests than those that do receive more intense guest service training. They are the ones that come to the door or the meeting room and must respond, answer or solve a problem. It may take them several minutes or trips so their interaction time with the guest can be extensive. How they handle it as well as how they then pass the baton to the next touchpoint in the guest experience can also impact service delivery in a positive or negative way.

And, beyond these departments, how are the rest of the employees oriented to handling interruptions or assisting departments like these in managing them with the goal of seamless service delivery and a flowing guest experience in mind? Think of the front desk in the alarm scenario and how they could have played a greater recovery role.

Consider the following to better assure superior results and that the desired experience is not interrupted in your hotel or organization:

  1. Take a look at records and feedback on any interruptions that take place on a regular basis, at least twice a month. Explore why they happened and if they could have been anticipated or handled better. If some interruptions are seasonal, plan for them and prepare teams to handle recovery and solutions when they happen.
  2. Once identified, determine what soft skills and behaviours are necessary to handle those situations.
  3. Evaluate whether the teams/employees in those situations have been trained or have enough training to deliver those soft skills and behaviours. Take a closer look at departments like engineering and housekeeping to see if more comprehensive training should take place with a focus on their specific roles and scenarios that take place.
  4. Orient ALL EMPLOYEES to how the Guest Experience evolves and how they each play a role in not only in their own responsibilities but also in how they pass the baton on to the next employee or department.
  5. Evaluate how the employee may be interrupted in delivering a good experience and give them the environment and tools for success. (No mosquito bites and scratching while serving drinks!)
  6. Look at policies and procedures from the guest’s point of view and not just operational efficiency. Orient employees to better understand uncovering and discovering the emotional impact of any interruptions. Train them on how to come to the rescue with the appropriate emotional response and solution.

Don’t let mosquitoes, smoke alarms or other annoyances interrupt your guest experiences. If they do happen, take the sting out of them with effective and empathetic guest experience management. Prepare your staff with service recovery strategies and make sure they are not interrupted on the job either. Minimize alarming moments with guests. Maximize the positive opportunities that come with continuity and seamless service delivery. Spray on Service Excellence for the ultimate guest protection.

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, Consumer Tips & Advice | Leave a comment

Appointment of Gary Knowles – Karma Royal Group

GK PhotoIt is with great pleasure that I announce the new appointment of Gary Knowles to the position of chief executive officer for the Karma Royal Group.

Gary has been with the group for a number of years and has contributed greatly to our growth and development and has impressed  many people both internally and externally with his skill and expertise I believe he will be the perfect solution to help enable our next stage of growth.

Following this appointment I will assume the role of executive chairman for the group and  will additionally focus an element of my time on helping Michael and management with sales and marketing issues.

Warmest regards, John Spence

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, Around the World, News | Leave a comment

Qantas and China Eastern deepen ties with joint venture

Qantas and China Eastern today announced a new joint venture, marking the start of a deeper level of commercial cooperation on flights between Australia and China.

The airlines will now submit an application for authorisation to Australian and Chinese regulators. Subject to regulatory approval, it is anticipated that the joint agreement will commence in mid-2015.

The five year agreement was signed today by Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce and China Eastern Chairman Liu Shaoyong at Parliament House, in a ceremony attended by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping.

Under the agreement, the airlines will deliver substantial benefits for customers and support the growing trade, tourism and corporate travel links between Australia and China. It is designed to complement the Qantas-Emirates partnership for Europe, Middle East and North Africa and the Qantas-American Airlines partnership for the US.

Through the new partnership, the airlines hope to ultimately open up new routes between Australia and mainland China, such as between Brisbane and Perth to Shanghai.

A key benefit of the agreement will be the co-location of both carriers’ operations in Terminal 1 at Shanghai International Airport, which will cut transit times by about an hour, open up a better range of onward connections and provide more choice for customers.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the airline was pleased to build on its existing codeshare relationship with China Eastern, which has been so successful with Qantas customers since 2008.

“We’re looking forward to working more closely with China Eastern to bring together our complementary networks and enhance the options for the increasing number of Qantas customers travelling to Shanghai and beyond,” said Mr Joyce.

“Coordination means the opportunity to improve schedules and connection times, and to deliver improved products such as a joint lounge and streamlined check-in facilities in Shanghai. It will be a win for our customers and, by making it easier for Chinese travellers to visit Australia, a win for trade and tourism”.

In welcoming the agreement, China Eastern Chairman Liu Shaoyong said “Australia is one of the most important tourist destinations and trade markets for China, and Qantas is the key partner for China Eastern in Australia.”

“It’s important for us to strengthen the cooperation with Qantas to provide better, more convenient travel products for passengers between the two countries,” said Chairman Liu.

Air services between Australia and China have been identified as critical to the ongoing development of strong economic ties between the two countries. China is now Australia’s largest two-way trading partner in goods and services, its largest goods export destination and its largest source of merchandise imports. China is Australia’s most valuable inbound tourism market – projected to contribute up to $9 billion annually to the Australian economy by 2020.

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, Around the World, News | Leave a comment

NT Tourism Vision 2020

Graph 1Graph 2Tourism Vision 2020 is being implemented in partnership with the NT tourism industry and other stakeholders.  Its target is to grow the visitor economy in the Northern Territory to $2.2 billion by 2020 as measured by overnight visitor expenditure.  The Tourism Vision 2020 Summary of Highlights 2013-14 provides an overview of the key activities undertaken during the past year to progress towards the 2020 target.

The graphs show how we are tracking; please click on the graphs to take a closer look.

 

To read a summary of the some of the benefits to tourism operators, click here.

 

 

 

Posted in 2014 Enews - 12/14, Business | Leave a comment