News for the Hospitality Executive
Resort "Best Practices Study" Reports Growing Value in
Resorts Stay Connected with Guests via Social Networks and Blogs
|MCLEAN, VA (Jan. 12, 2009) – Today, resorts are seeing
the value of engaging prospective or recurrent guests online through social
networks, blogs and review and photo sharing sites. More than 35 resorts
participate in HSMAI’s Resort Marketing Special Interest Group “Best Practices
Initiative”; the most recent study from this group, Online Marketing and
Social Media, was conducted earlier this year to analyze online marketing
approaches today. Comparisons were drawn to a similar study completed in
2005. The research will be discussed in-depth at the Ninth Annual Resort
Conference from May 3 – 5, 2009, at the PGA National Resort & Spa in
Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (www.resortconference.com)
“In addition to outlining five categories to define a successful online marketing campaign, the study found resorts are also increasing engagement with their customers through online mediums,” said Cindy Estis Green, managing partner, The Estis Group, and author of the report. “It is evident resorts are seeing direct correlations to conversations taking place online and consumer’s travel decisions. Additionally, it creates a means for resorts to tune into customers needs and wants on a timely one-to-one basis, adding value to their stay and meetings, particularly in the current economy.”
While the current economic woes and bailouts point to an even greater use of online marketing, the research conducted in Spring/Summer 2008 still reveals interesting benchmark trends for this important sector of the hospitality industry. The “Best Practices Study” found that:
Many resorts have gained tremendous momentum with limited marketing budgets when experimenting with social media. Steamboat Ski Company, a member of the HSMAI Resort Best Practices Initiative, launched a social network and forum for its consumers as they opened their 2008-09 season. “The level of participation in its first weeks alone made it clear how essential a tool it will be to our outreach and CRM efforts, especially as we battle for our share of wallet in these tough economic times”, reported Katie Brown, Director of Sales and Online Marketing Systems. The Reefs, a boutique resort in Bermuda, shared their success stories with the Best Practices group as they described their popular photo contest that has drawn hundreds into a dialogue with management and with fellow Reefs advocates.
“Online marketing has taken a central role in resort marketing,” said Estis Green. “Resorts are depending on their online presence to convey their brand message, provide information, facilitate bookings and most importantly forge long term relationships with their customers. This online presence and the many cost effective tools of engagement now available will be essential to success in the 21st century.”
The study also outlines five categories to create a successful online marketing campaign: Web site design and management, techniques for building traffic, E-mail campaigns, customer engagement techniques and social Media and Web 2.0 activities.
Full results of the study are available to subscribing resorts. A summary will also be featured in the HSMAI Marketing Review Spring issue.
The Resort Marketing special interest group, (www.resortmarketing.org), is a group of HSMAI members who advance the resort sales and marketing discipline and the professional development of its members through information sharing and education. This group was formed to create forums for information exchange such as at the annual Resort conference and publishing newsletters and articles related to the resort sales and marketing specialty. It also guides the Best Practices Initiative, of which this report is a product.
The Best Practices Initiative is an optional service of the Resort Marketing special interest group based on an annual subscription that provides for two research studies per year, an annual subscriber meeting and various ad hoc efforts driven by the subscribers. More information along with the list of participating resorts can be found at www.hsmairesortbestpractices.com.
|Also See:||Getting Back to the Basics: The Hotelier’s Internet Marketing Action Plan for a Difficult Economy / Max Starkov and Jason Price/ June 2008|