Read about our success in a marketing case study
Our hospitality industry success speaks for itself. Each marketing case study below showcases a resort that embraced our integrated marketing approach.
The marketing case study tracks how the resorts were performing and trending before MP&A was retained and reports performance for several years after employing MP&A programs.
MP&A has a well established track record of using integrated marketing to build revenue and occupancy for its resort clients. It is research like this that gives us the confidence to offer new clients a performance-based compensation agreement. To learn more, give us a call.
Case Studies - Hotels
Recovering – and succeeding – post recession
Gold Award, Digital Marketing, Integrated Campaign – 2013 HSMAI Adrian Awards
Family owned since 1950, Jamaica Inn is a 52-room luxury hotel in Ocho Rios.
Like many Caribbean hotels, Jamaica Inn experienced a decline in occupancy
and revenue during the recent recession. In October 2012, sales were still
well below 2008 levels and had been flat for 18 months.
Jamaica Inn had focused its marketing budget primarily on sales with limited advertising and marketing communications. The hotel had a database of 7,379 guests and agents, but was not using it. In addition, its website was more than five years old, used old technology and was poorly search engine optimized.
Jamaica receives many direct flights from the US, Canada and Europe, but with nearly 300 hotels, it is an extremely competitive marketplace.
Jamaica Inn had relied on sales and repeat guests, not evolving to meet today’s traveler needs, and suffered with a void of prospects. To regain its share of the luxury travel market, it needed to deploy a new integrated digital marketing strategy.
In October 2012, MP&A Digital & Advertising launched an integrated customer relationship marketing (iCRM) program to build and strengthen relationships with past guests, prospects and the travel trade.
The goals for the program were to:
- Increase occupancy and revenue by 10% in the first year by increasing bookings through all channels
- Grow direct bookings by increasing visibility among prospects with a new search engine optimized website, and engaging in regular dialogue with guests, prospects and agents through email communications and social media.
With daily room rates ranging from $400 to $2,000 per night, the primary target audience for Jamaica Inn is very affluent travelers in the US, Canada and UK/Europe. A majority of the hotel’s target audience resides in the US, specifically in the Northeast as well as other cities with direct air access such as Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis and Orlando. Since Jamaica Inn has no televisions in the rooms, it attracts a discerning clientele seeking a quiet place to relax and reconnect in understated luxury.
- Positioning and Tagline –The key message in the new marketing strategy was the hotel’s key selling message, “Jamaica Inn offers you the ultimate in relaxation and romance.” Unique aspects of Jamaica Inn are featured to support the message such as long-standing family ownership, no TVs in the rooms, long-time staff, timeless elegance, intimate setting and 700-foot private beach – one of the best in Jamaica. A tag line was created to capture the essence of this key selling message: “Jamaica Inn. It’s time.”
- Website – Research revealed that Jamaica Inn’s brand was strong, but was not visible in the evolving online marketplace. A new, search engine optimized website was designed and launched in October 2012, appealing to today’s visually focused web visitor and featuring an intuitive navigation structure, integrated booking engine, quick links to high-traffic content, newsletter sign-up and social media integration.
- Database & Email marketing — After updating Jamaica Inn’s database, an email marketing program was launched to keep the hotel top of mind among past guests, travel agents and prospects. The program includes an eNewsletter that is published six times a year and postcards with a single topic and call to action, such as a special offer.
- Social media– Jamaica Inn increased its social media presence to encourage more regular interaction on Facebook and Twitter, and added a blog and accounts on Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.
- eNewsletter – To build relationships with past guests and prospects, MP&A developed a bi-monthly eNewsletter focused on news, wellness programs and special offers.
- Social Media – Relationships were strengthend with regular interaction on the Facebook page, Google+ page and blog, all managed by MP&A
In the first year since the program launched, results have succeeded the goals.
- Room revenue is up almost 20% vs. a year ago and up 40% vs the peak in the 2008 economic boon. Revenue is up 100% from the depths of the recession.
- Occupancy is up more than 20% and the hotel remained open in September 2013 for the first time in a decade.
- Online visibility has increased thanks to a new website and SEO efforts, resulting in a 50% increase in website traffic.
- Online bookings have increased in number and share of direct bookings.
- The email program has an open rate that is 50% higher than the Caribbean hotels average, and click-through rates run 150% higher on average vs. Caribbean hotels.
- Pay-per-click advertising, which began as part of the iCRM program, has resulted in a return on investment of 35:1
- In social media, the hotel has attracted significantly more followers on Facebook, developed a loyal following of almost 600 on Instagram, and created a blog that has generated thousands of visits.
The digital marketing program has enabled Jamaica Inn to successfully pull out of a slump and be well positioned for continued growth.
Re-launching an eco-boutique resort
Rosalie Bay is a 28-room eco-boutique resort on Dominica. After nine years in development, the resort opened in 2010 with modest marketing or PR support. Problems included:
- No clear positioning
- A website that was generating insufficient traffic
- An inconsistent Facebook fan page
- Sporadic PR support
- Few TripAdvisor reviews and no Business Listing
The biggest problem: both occupancy and revenue were growing slower than owner expectations.
The resort needed to boost occupancy by creating more awareness among prospects and build relationships with past guests to encourage word-of-mouth marketing. MP&A was hired in November 2011 to launch an integrated customer relationship marketing campaign.
Dominica is a difficult island to access, with no direct flights outside of the Caribbean. The type of consumer who visits Dominica differs from the traditional sun, sea and sand Caribbean vacationer.
Visitors tend to be more eco-conscious, wellness/healthy travelers, and/or active who enjoy the outdoors. As an eco-boutique resort, Rosalie Bay Resort targets more affluent consumers with these qualities.
Because of the strong ecological nature of Dominica and Rosalie Bay, the resort pulls a significant number of visitors from beyond the prime Caribbean gateways.
MP&A developed a comprehensive integrated customer relationship marketing program for Rosalie Bay, which began almost immediately. The program included the following:
- Positioning and Tagline – The first step was to create a benefit-oriented positioning and tagline, which would be reinforced in all communications. After speaking with past guests and conducting an evaluation with the resort, MP&A positioned Rosalie Bay Resort as an eco-boutique and wellness retreat.
The tagline "Simply Magical" plays off the unsurpassed natural beauty of the resort and destination, as well as the positive feeling guests get from eating healthy, being active and relaxing. The magical also highlights the incredible guest experience of watching sea turtles nest and hatch on the resort's protected black sand beach.
- Website – The next step was to develop a new, search engine optimized website with large photos to entice visitors (launched in January 2012). The website established Rosalie Bay's online visibility and thus, part of the initial research phase for travelers.
To boost SEO and website visits, a pay-per-click campaign was launched. All marketing, advertising and PR efforts were designed to drive traffic to the website and encourage visitors to call to book a vacation or request additional information.
- Sales —To help boost sales MP&A accompanied management and owners to CHTA Marketplace helping to negotiate contracts with wholesalers, tour operators and online travel agencies (OTAs).
- TripAdvisor – The next critical item was online reviews. MP&A developed a custom-tailored TripAdvisor strategy to increase reviews and prominence on the site. A Business listing was also secured.
- eNewsletter – To build relationships with past guests and prospects, MP&A developed a bi-monthly eNewsletter focused on news, wellness programs and special offers.
- Social Media – Relationships were strengthend with regular interaction on the Facebook page, Google+ page and blog, all managed by MP&A.
- Travel Agents – To reach travel agents, MP&A targeted trade publications with FAM rate announcements, created a travel agent page on the website, and distributed emails via a national travel agent database.
- Database – As a fairly new resort, generating awareness among prospects is key to the strategy and several tactics were used. To build the database, MP&A created a prominent newsletter sign up on the website and created a system at the resort to better capture guest email addresses. It also redesigned the registration card and worked with the resort on training staff to accurately capture contact information, confirm it upon checkout and enter it in the database.
- Public Relations – A proactive PR campaign was launched using press releases, pitching journalists and most importantly, hosting individual press trips for writers with online and print publications to experience it first-hand for feature article coverage.
- Barter Advertising – MP&A negotiated numerous barter arrangements and cost-effective opportunities for print advertisements in targeted publications.
In the first ten months of the integrated marketing program, Rosalie Bay Resort has achieved the following results:
- Monthly website traffic more than tripled
- The resort has been mentioned in more than 80 online and a dozen print publications
- Facebook fans and engagement significantly increased
- Room revenue more than doubled vs. the previous year.
Rosalie Bay is on pace to increase occupancy and revenue by a factor of 2.5 in 2012 compared to 2011.
The Reefs is widely recognized as Bermuda's best hotel and consistently achieved the highest occupancy levels of any property on the island. MP&A has been working with The Reefs since the mid 1990s. Over the years we have instituted a strong integrated marketing program designed to acquire and retain profitable customers. Marketing communications has focused primarily on the Internet, direct and email marketing, public relations, promotion and a modest amount of print.
During the period before MP&A began working with The Reefs the resort's occupancy followed, but lagged a few months behind the trend in air arrivals. Shortly after we were retained air arrivals to Bermuda began a gradual and prolonged decline.
Both The Reefs' occupancy and air arrivals dipped as a result of 9/11. Air arrivals continued to slide while occupancy at The Reefs bounced back fairly quickly - much faster than what was reported by other hotels on the island. The vast majority of booking at The Reefs comes direct.
Integrated marketing works.
Nisbet Plantation Beach Club on the unspoiled island of Nevis is a small, independent luxury resort with 36 cottage-style guest accommodations set on 30 lush tropical acres.
The Caribbean’s only plantation inn directly on the beach, Nisbet Plantation has continually earned high accolades for its exceptional service. Most recently, Nisbet Plantation was named the #1 resort in the Caribbean by both Travel+ Leisure and Conde Nast Travelers magazines.
For more than 10 years, Nisbet Plantation has partnered with MP&A digital + advertising to deploy a Customer Relationship Marketing Program (CRM) to build loyal and profitable customers. The program proved how valuable it is to this small resort by helping Nisbet successfully navigate the Great Recession.
Download the complete story of how Nisbet was able to prosper in difficult times.
Click here to download the PDF
When Casa del Mar selected MP&A to revamp their marketing program they were suffering through a steep slump in both occupancy and revenue. It took several months to get the resort's new integrated marketing program in place and when it was officially launched both occupancy and revenue began increasing at a very steady clip.
The Casa del Mar program included a completely new positioning, brochure, a new optimized website, database for both direct mail and email marketing, public relations, barter, advertising exclusively to the honeymoon and destination wedding market, trade advertising and promotion.
Within two years revenue for the resort reached historic highs. More importantly, the resort was able to raise rates substantially so this record revenue is being generated with 14 fewer occupancy points than at its previous high in mid-2001 allowing it room for substantially more revenue and profits to be realized.
At Tiangis 2005, Mexico’s annual marketplace, Casa del Mar was awarded the prize for the best hotel marketing plan in Los Cabos. The award, presented by Classic Custom Vacation/Expedia, is given to the hotel with the consistently strongest results throughout the year.
After two years Casa del Mar was able to win the Peppers & Rogers Integrated 1-to-1 Marketing Impact Award – perhaps the most prestigious award in marketing.
Integrated marketing works.
Stonington Beach Hotel in Bermuda was MP&A’s first hotel client. What’s interesting about this study is that all the positive results were generated by following the same integrated marketing process presented earlier in the customer relationship chart.
The only difference between the Stonington Beach program and those of The Reefs and Casa del Mar is that Stonington’s success pre-dates the Internet.
At the time MP&A was hired, occupancy levels for Stonington were on par with those of the major hotels in Bermuda. Shortly after Stonington's integrated marketing program was launched occupancy began to rise dramatically. Four and a half years later the occupancy for Stonington was over 20 points higher than Bermuda's major hotels.
There are three very important points to be made from the Stonington Beach Case History:
- The underlying marketing strategy developed to drive your plan is the most important factor in determining how successful you will be. Strategy drives your product development, your sales approach, your creative, your media selection, your internet marketing and ultimately your ability to achieve a sustainable tourism environment.
- Advertising, email, social media, the web, promotion, public relations and all the other media are only tools designed to help you sell. No matter how new, sexy and flashy a medium is, it is still only a tool that must be integrated into an overall strategy in order to help build sales.
- MP&A Digital & Advertising has been practicing the disciplines of integrated marketing in travel since its inception in 1989. It is a discipline Mr. Pratt studied and practiced well before that while working with many of the world’s largest and most sophisticated marketers. To us, “integrated” it is not the latest buzz word, but our core marketing philosophy.
Case Studies - Promotions
During the economic downturn in late 2009, The Reefs in Bermuda opened a new spa and private residence club. The 64-room luxury resort, which has a high repeat guest rate, needed to both sell real estate and increase hotel stays by expanding its customer base.
The Reefs was about to launch a new search engine optimized website for both the hotel and Club, Previously, they had two separate sites.
- To increase web visits
- To generate top-of-mind awareness in past guests and new prospects of The Reefs’ experience
- To expand The Reefs database
To launch the new site MP&A created an online contest that turned loyal guests into advocates and generated interest in the property among prospects and the media.
For February, the month of love, The Reefs created the “Show Your Love” contest and asked past guests to share a favorite experience in 500 words. Entries were narrowed to seven finalists, posted on the website and voted on by the public. Public voting provided an opportunity to expose the resort experience via strong testimonials to new prospects. A vacation giveaway to both the winning story and a randomly selected voter provided an incentive to past guests to enter and to the public to read the stories and vote.
An integrated digital marketing campaign, including website, email, social media and public relations, was designed by MP&A to communicate the contest from launch to the selections of both winners.
A contest icon was designed and used in all communications, including a button on the website home page. Communications included: landing page with entry form, finalist stories, voting form and rules; HTML e-mails; press releases to travel media; and messages on The Reefs’ Facebook page and blog.
Building upon the month of love, messages focused on love of The Reefs and Bermuda such as proposals in the sand, destination weddings, honeymoons and family celebrations.
With less than $4,000 and relying on email/database marketing, social media and public relations efforts, The Reefs exceeded its goals for the promotion. The contest generated 603 essay entries and 3,264 votes.
It also increased traffic to the new website. The month-long contest launch generated a 165% increase in website visits compared to 2009, and the first day of voting generated more than 3,000 contest-specific web visits and 50 new Facebook fans. Web visits were up nearly 40% for the contest period compared to the same time in 2009 and continue to trend ahead of previous years.
“Show Your Love” also succeeded in generating awareness to new prospects. During the contest, 60% of web visits were new and there were 229 new e-newsletter subscribers. PR resulted in several media placements including Caribbean Travel + Life, Bermuda.com and a feature article in Hilton Head Monthly (the winners’ home town).
Within two weeks of the contest, 64 reservations directly tracked to the campaign representing nearly $200,000 in room revenue.
Case Studies - Positioning
Positioning is the way you want people to think about your product, company or resort. It must be simple and straightforward. It is one of the most basic strategic statements, is the blueprint for marketing and development and helps focus the efforts of everyone involved in marketing.
Today people are bombarded with information and need to filter out the noise. They do this by compartmentalizing messages from products and associating them with specific benefits. Think of how Volvo is associated with "safety." Or FEDEX with "overnight."
These brands have spent millions of dollars in marketing to have people associate their product with one specific benefit. When someone is in the market for a product that delivers these benefits their company will be top of mind and immediately be in their consideration set.
MP&A is expert at positioning. There are specific guidelines used to develop a strong, benefit-oriented positioning and we can help you create one that is a perfect fit for company or resort. Here are a few examples of benefit-oriented positionings MP&A has created for clients in the hospitality and travel industry.
- Nisbet Plantation Beach Club – “The Caribbean’s only historic plantation inn on the beach”
- 9 Beaches – “Do the unexpected Bermuda”
- The Reefs – “Feel perfectly at ease”
- Casa del Mar Beach, Golf and Spa Resort – “Your hacienda oasis in Cabo”
- Bolongo Bay - "The most entertaining Caribbean beach resort"
- Stonington Beach Hotel – “The hotel for the Hospitality and Culinary Institute of Bermuda”
- Kanantik Reef & Jungle Resort - "Explore Kanantik. Your Elegant Barefoot Escape"
- The Land Between the Lakes - "The land of 10,000 trails"
A solid positioning articulates a clear benefit customers receive by choosing your particular product or hotel. In each case every marketing communications program is prepared with your positioning in mind. Repetition is the Mother of Learning and by incorporating a strong and consistent message throughout marketing and sales, your company or product can rise above and outperform competition.
Do you have a strong, benefit-oriented positioning? Would you like to know more about how you could develop one? Contact us.
Recent Awards & Honors