How one vacation rental company’s audience helped them reopen with a bigger, warmer audience, ready to travel

Chances are you heard Florida’s beaches have reopened. Despite the initial 24-hour news bloviation, things seem to be normalizing, and the travel industry in the lightly affected panhandle of the state is ready to jump-start.

For Resort Collection, that means 1,000 rooms spread across the coast of Panama City Beach are ready to be enjoyed.

Thanks to a strong audience paired with a platform and strategy, they’ve hit the sand running. Here’s how.

Putting their own audience first

Most travel businesses experienced a “what’s next?” mentality as the pace of cancellations, refunds, staffing and financial decisions peaked. Even in the confusion and shock of the shutdown, Resort Collection had the clarity to realize this would pass.

Without normal channels of marketing, they knew reaching and nurturing their existing audience would be critical in the plan to reopen.

Striking the right tone

Keeping that audience in conversation during one of travel’s most challenging times ever would require empathetic outreach and careful messaging.

The Flip.to platform played a critical role, helping more than two hundred people share their stories with Resort Collection at the center during the pandemic-induced downtime.

It’s those storytellers who are so important to the company’s strategy. These are real people who shared authentic moments, and in doing so, introduced the VR company to a community that trusts them the most: their own friends and family.

Photo submission from Nykia O. showing 4 african american females enjoying the sun on a hotel balcony

The audience responds

The response was phenomenal, and grew the collection’s audience even wider. Beyond scale, these trusted connections were with a new, high-quality audience of like-minded individuals who mirrored the original storytellers—the right-fit audience for Resort Collection.

Now in active conversation, this new audience is primed as Resort Collection excitedly takes its first steps forward in more than a month.

Photo submission from Sheri S. a family of 4 standing in the middle of crystal clear waters of a beach

Authenticity and trust make better marketing

Resort Collection immediately noticed the stories generated by using the platform resonated with their audience.

How? For starters, they saw a spike in engagement and conversion, a testament to better conversations that are meaningful, timely and appropriate—all at a moment when people are deciding how and when they will be ready to travel again.

The platform put happy times at the front of mind for Resort Collection’s new and old audience alike.

In just 62 days, Resort Collection engaged 265 storytellers who shared their greatest travel memories. 401,876 friends and family were introduced to Resort Collection by a trusted friend or family member. 2,936 warm leads in conversation-an audience who are the perfect demographic.

As they’re phasing back into operation, the platform is now helping the collection immediately start welcoming this warm audience to their newly reopened properties.

And as units book and first guests arrive, they, too, will become storytellers, continuing to grow Resort Collection’s audience, and seeding the funnel in the same way.


Resort Collection recognized the most important lesson in the pandemic: keep your audience at the center. Sparking the right conversations with that audience, and nailing timing and tone are incredibly important.

By prioritizing these efforts, when the time is right for both your properties AND your audience, they’ll be there for you.

How collaboration helps these small Key West hotels see spectacular results that will live beyond the pandemic

Tucked among tropical foliage, and in the company of buzzing scooters and free-range chickens, eight boutique properties scatter the eclectic neighborhoods of Key West. The inns, B&B’s and small hotels are each unique except for a theme of pastel hues and a proximity to Ernest Hemingway’s favorite watering holes.

Yet each was looking for a way to attract more travelers within the country’s southernmost vacation outpost.

At the time, their parent company, Riley Hotel Group, ran all eight as a collection, but marketed the properties individually. And one big opportunity stood out: collaboration.

A platform to work together

When Riley switched on the Flip.to platform, our teams worked closely to not only reach and inspire a bigger audience, but also to build an overall plan to help all eight hotels collaborate.

In those conversations, Flip.to Account Manager, Joseph Meuse, also recognized the need to speak to travelers with a unified voice and to build awareness of the other hotels in the family. That suggestion garnered more fuel to continue evolving The Key West Collection by Riley, a plan that grouped the boutiques together in strategy, marketing and content, and would introduce the sister properties to travelers who previously knew no affiliation.

Riley the Rooster debuted as the hero of the new logo, and excitement built for the official kickoff of the platform.

A launch and a pandemic

Photo submission from April A. showing man holding a rooster and a hen.
Photo submission from April A.

Just when the new brand started to take off, the bottom fell out of the market as the pandemic swept the nation and grounded travel. While excitement deflated quickly, the groundwork from the collaboration proved to be timely.

The eight properties in the Key West Collection are now working together on a single Flip.to platform to inspire an audience of travelers, and rebuild their marketing funnel while the island is shuttered.

Their audiences, once compartmentalized, are learning about the group in a more authentic way. They’re also growing a team of storytellers who are actively introducing their friends and families to the entire collection. That sets up the properties to be in a great position when the time is right.

Photo submission from Kathryn S. standing in front of palm trees in Key West.

The impact of collaboration

The introductions are adding up at a brisk pace. That’s no small feat considering the collection only counts a total of 105 rooms.

In just 56 days, Riley Hotel Group engaged 342 storytellers who become an extension of Riley's marketing force. 270,000 friends and family were introduced to Riley's Key West Collection by someone they know. 3,600 dreamers in conversation-an audience who are the perfect demographic.

Their marketing team is adding great value at the moment, which is bringing The Key West Collection by Riley more than 3,600 dreamers that they can speak to until the Hemingway daiquiris are flowing again.

An extension of your marketing team

Flip.to and Joseph proved to be an extension of The Riley Group team, and a partner willing to join in thinking big to overcome its challenges. Neither could have foreseen the biggest challenge to date, but those initial conversations show getting the fundamentals right is the best way to weather any storm.

How 3 properties are adjusting their marketing during the pandemic, and how you can too

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less,” stated Nobel prize winning physicist and chemist, Marie Curie.

COVID-19 has thrashed our industry. The challenges are great, but the decisions and adjustments made today will ultimately decide the future as our industry emerges into a changed world.

As Curie suggested, the more information we have, the better positioned we are to do that. (As you’ll read below, wine also helps.)

When traditional marketing isn’t an option

At Flip.to we’re working hard to help our customers understand, strategize and adapt. The goal is to set the stage for the most profitable rebound while resources are limited.

With traditional marketing off the table, it’s critical to maintain a relationship with your audience of travelers, or risk degradation, with your audience ‘going cold’.

As properties continue to grow that audience for the time when travel is back, it’s equally important it’s done in a way that builds relationships and avoids missteps.

How our customers are adapting

Our Account Management team is working with customers on the platform to maintain and grow these audiences during downtime—in the right way.

Take a peek at some of those stories in action, and check back for more in the coming days and weeks.

STONEWALL RESORT

Roanoke, West Virginia

With travelers grounded at home and cabin fever setting in, Stonewall Resort launched a Flip.to campaign called “Travel Buddies,” asking their audience to share stories of adventures past with a favorite companion.

The platform rekindles the feelings surrounding those memories while making authentic connections with the storytellers and audiences they’re reaching.

Beyond maintaining their current audiences, Stonewall Resort aimed to reach a new, wider audience so that they could build a funnel of conversations to tap into when the time is right.

They invited anyone to share a ‘Travel Buddies’ story, even if they hadn’t visited in the past. Growing their team of storytellers exponentially increased the impact they earned.

In fact, the 208-room resort has been introduced to 608,438 friends and family directly by their storytellers in the first 3 weeks starting March 24th—all reached organically.

That adds up to fourteen times more than their already healthy audience of existing followers and fans, and is a great set of travelers to engage more down the line.

Kim M.'s photo submission to Stonewall Resort's Story Contest

Cheri G.'s photo submission to Stonewall Resort's Story Contest

Denise D.'s photo submission to Stonewall Resort's Story Contest

THE GUEST HOUSE AT GRACELAND

Memphis, Tennessee

Elvis Presley fans can’t help falling in love with The Guest House at Graceland’s “Taking Care of Business” campaign.

By sharing memories from a past visit to Graceland or The Guest House, past guests can play along with The King. For those feeling lonesome tonight, the Guest House also welcomes stories from anyone sheltering in place, even if they have never visited Memphis.

It’s a playful approach that has a new audience professing their burning love with stories.

Elvis fans are passionate. And since kicking off April 1st, in two weeks The Guest House has been introduced to an audience of nearly 250K by their storytellers.

Beyond that, they’ve earned almost 2,000 warm leads. These are the friends and family of storytellers now in conversation with the 450-room property thanks to the platform—helping to be present and useful to those dreaming about getting back to travel without the pressure to ‘buy now’ weighing on their suspicious minds.

Lisa P.'s photo submission to The Guest House at Graceland's Story Contest

Ashley W.'s photo submission to The Guest House at Graceland's Story Contest

Eric H.'s photo submission to The Guest House at Graceland's Story Contest

HARVEST INN

St. Helena, Napa Valley, California

If the best memes of the pandemic are any indication, wine has played an important role in the national mood. A hectic reality resulting from school closures and working from home, colloquially referred to as “WFH,” has made the product of the vine an even more popular stress reliever.

In their “An Enchanting Slice of Napa Valley” Flip.to campaign, the Harvest Inn introduced a playful spin on WFH—Wine From Home. The invite calls on wine lovers everywhere to share their best moments of enjoying wine from wherever home may be.

The platform is introducing wine-lovers the world over to both Napa Valley and Harvest Inn. So far, to the tune of 88,933 friends and family, and thousands of new conversations with future travelers.

For a property with only 74 rooms, this is helping grow an audience of dreamers at a time when the power has been effectively cut to the “book now” button.

Until travel is ready, the platform is in conversation with the right content and context, leaving Harvest Inn with an audience primed for planning and booking later on., That audience is a wine-loving demographic, which is a great fit for Harvest, and earned at the lowest cost.

Tom and Emily B.'s photo submission to Harvest Inn's Story Contest

Haley D.'s photo submission to Harvest Inn's Story Contest

Angela M.'s photo submission to Harvest Inn's Story Contest

Inspiring your own audiences

When putting together your strategy, remember it’s important to empathize with your audience. Travelers share your concerns (and probably disappointment that their plans are on hold).

Here’s some of our take:

  • Include what makes your destination unique (wine, beach, Elvis, etc.)
  • Make sure the call-to-action is broad enough to reach the widest audience
  • Inject personality and lighten the mood, but take care to be empathetic toward the difficult situation many face
  • Have someone from your team kick off the campaign with a homemade video

As always, even remote, our AM team is here to help. We all need to be prepared for the moment the economic engine starts to rumble back to speed.

Advocacy at work: storytellers helping condo resorts shine

With OPMA Spring Executive Summit around the corner, we’ve been taking some time to reflect on this amazing partnership, while also looking ahead at 2019 for property managers.

That’s inspired us to also take some time to celebrate some of our fellow OPMA members and property managers who are tapping the advocacy marketing platform to create authentic conversations, nurture lasting relationships, and craft rich experiences with their property at the center.

Take a look at a few of our personal favorite storytellers at work for these properties, each and every day.

Atlantica Resort

Atlantica Resort_Morgan Atlantica Resort is at the center of this memory from Morgan and her family. The impact is growing each and every day, with Morgan alone reaching over 1,700 site visitors and 150 warm leads to folks just one degree away—and the perfect fit for this beachside resort.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

Sandestin_Jennifer Sandestin_Louise With advocacy, Sandestin is winning new audiences who are the perfect match for their resort. Jennifer and Louise joined their fellow travelers who shared their stories worldwide, reaching an audience of nearly a quarter-of-a-million and earning over 2,700 warm leads in only 4 months.

What’s that mean for Sandestin? They’re building new relationships and sparking authentic conversations in the most trusted way possible, at a scale like never before.

Resort Collection

Resort Collection_Angela Resort Collection_MattAngela and Matt were fellow guests at Resort Collection. These storytellers joined other travelers who helped earn thousands of warm leads—now in authentic, personal conversations—to nurture for a future visit to this Panhandle property.

Sterling Resorts

Sterling Resorts_Barbara Sterling Resorts_Brittany With Flip.to, Sterling Resorts is winning over new audiences who are the perfect fit.

In fact, Barbara and Brittany are just two guests who joined fellow storytellers who are helping reach an audience of over 94,000 each and every month.

The Beach Club

The Beach Club_Carol The Beach Club_Hailey By tapping Flip.to, The Beach Club’s guests are sharing the highlights of their stay with friends and family worldwide, driving the warmest traffic with higher conversion for pennies on the dollar.

Turquoise Place

Turquoise Place_Betty Turquoise Place_Stephanie Betty and Stephanie shared their experiences with Turquoise Place at the center to those who matter the most—their family and friends.

This like-minded demographic went on to share these stories, too. Together, they’re helping Turquoise Place reach new audiences of over 85,000 each and every month, helping this family-friendly, beachside property earn hundreds of personal introductions to an audience who are just one degree away.

Vista Cay Resort

Vista Cay_Gayle Vista Cay_Kara Building relationships with travelers has always been a top priority for the team at Vista Cay Resort. Each and every day they craft rich experiences for every traveler’s journey with their brand at the center.

Guests like Gayle and Kara, shared their incredible stories to friends and family—other like-minded travelers—which helped the Vista Cay earn hundreds of warm introductions to future travelers the perfect demographic for their resort.


These are just a few of the storytellers netting new audiences of travelers, each and every day. If you’d like to see what the advocacy marketing platform can do for your property or condo resort, let’s talk!

Storytellers at work: spark relationships with new audiences

Hotels strive to deliver hospitality to create memories their guests will rekindle. And spreading the word about these moments-made-special, or standout service? That’s always going to be most impactful when done by those who experienced it first-hand: your guests.

Letting travelers tell their stories is not only authentic and trusted, but also introduces your property to quality, new audiences at a massive scale.

That’s what Flip.to is all about. We turn travelers into storytellers who help organizations—large and small—drive high-quality, warm traffic with higher conversion than any other marketing channel.

And today, we’re looking at a few of our current favorites.


Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa Lake Arrowhead Resort and SpaLake Arrowhead Resort and Spa

Jeniah and Matthew were just two travelers alongside fellow guests at Lake Arrowhead Resort who’ve helped their property reach over 50,000 like-minded future travelers in just the last 3 months. This has helped earn hundreds of warm leads, each in 1-to-1 personal conversations with this mountainside property.

La Concha Renaissance Resort La Concha Renaissance Resort

Thanks to Yaniara and other traveler-turned-storytellers, a new audience of over 60,000 was reached in only 90 days, earning nearly 1,000 warm leads. The best part? Each one of those future travelers being nurtured down the path to becoming future guests.

Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Banyan Tree Mayakoba
Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Kyle and Cory were just two travelers who visited Banyan Tree Mayakoba that shared the highlight of their stay with the property at the center. Together with fellow guests, Banyan Tree reached an audience of 164,568, earning over 4,000 warm leads to the waterside resort in just 4 months.

But what does that really mean? They’re sparking relationships with this new audience in the most authentic way possible, and nurturing personal conversations with each and every one.

Art Ovation Hotel Art Ovation Hotel Art Ovation Hotel

Robin and Dorene were fellow guests at Art Ovation Hotel. These storytellers joined other travelers who helped earn hundreds of warm leads, now in thoughtful conversations that are leading down the path to a future stay—opening up an entirely new channel, for pennies on the dollar compared to other marketing efforts.

Viceroy Los Cabos Viceroy Los Cabos

Anayeli—traveler to Viceroy Los Cabos—shared this incredible story with her friends & family—other like-minded travelers the perfect fit for their luxury, beachside property—she helped the resort earn hundreds of personal introductions to an audience who all just one degree away.

Playa Largo Resort & Spa Playa Largo Resort & Spa Playa Largo Resort & Spa

With the advocacy marketing platform, Playa Largo Resort is winning over new audiences who are the perfect fit, each and every day. Lucas and Marisa joined fellow storytellers who are helping reach an audience of over 60,000 potential guests each and every month. This helped earn over 2,700 leads who are in 1-to-1, personal conversations with Playa Largo.


These are just a few of the many unforgettable experiences being shared to new audiences of travelers each and every day. If you’d like to see more, let’s talk!

Industry take: a look ahead for property managers with Millenium’s Maurice Arbelaez

In May, we’re headed to the 2019 OPMA Executive Summit, our third since becoming members earlier a couple of years back.

And there’s good reason. We have the chance to reconnect with our travel industry friends, while also looking at the leading edge of an industry.

To this end, we caught up with Maurice Arbelaez, Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing for Millenium Management, for his take on what’s in store for property managers nationwide.


Last year, you told us that you felt OPMA was “a key organization in helping the property management industry maintain high standards of service, guest experience and infrastructure.”

The OPMA Executive Summit seems to be a great outlet for doing just that. Going into the summit, what are some of the things you feel the industry will gain? What “big solves” do you feel lodging providers are looking at heading into OPMA?

As a maturing industry, we’re at a tipping point where the need to establish industry standards that ensure the highest level of service is no longer a want, it’s a must. Maintaining this quality helps exceed the expectations of all travelers, ultimately helping condo resorts and property managers compete as a whole with hotels and beyond.

To do so collaboration at all levels is crucial, and that’s exactly where the OPMA organization and this summit come in. Its members bring education and best practices to the forefront in every core part of the business, from marketing to operations, stemming from one big goal: bettering our industry together.

More than ever, it feels like keeping a pulse on the direction of property management and marketing is a must. What are the expectations you see for property managers in 2019?

Building relationships with our travelers is at the core of what we’re all about as hospitality providers. Personal service and attention to detail is how we handle this on property.

For us, the same must be true in our marketing efforts and communication. We’re seeking to have better, more personal conversations with travelers, with the same personal touches they receive when they arrive.

We’re prioritizing marketing partnerships in these key areas to introduce our condo resorts to new audiences, and then keep in touch with them in more authentic ways.

In fact, word of mouth, reviews and social have been the most effective channels to create new business and loyal visitors. These audiences embrace authenticity, and have raised their expectations for us in travel—which is only set to continue in 2019.

As the industry grows and more big players get involved, how should property managers be thinking about their approach?

I see two key opportunities for property managers to take part in driving the industry.

First, define and uphold our standards, commanding recognition of condo resorts as a top player in the market. This will only be achieved by working together to ensure we’re positioned as a relevant player in the marketplace. (Which leads to the second point.)

Establish and develop collaborative partnerships with key players: thought-leaders in the industry, and those who aren’t afraid to challenge today’s standards and ideas to make them better. The OPMA organization and its members seek to do just this.

A common effort to better market our product; to maintain and grow stronger relationships with travelers; and to discuss and share synergies, challenge ideas and encourage growth, will solidify our position and relevance in the wider travel industry.


A heavy weight in the industry, Maurice has years of hospitality experience in everything from operations to marketing. For more thoughts from Maurice and Millenium Management, give him a follow here.

Plus, we’re always looking to spark ideas and conversations in travel. How do you feel about the trajectory of property management? What strategies and tactics will you be employing? Join in and don’t be afraid to let us know here.

Caribbean travelers-turned-storytellers inspire growth for a region

In a few short weeks we will be “wheels up” for Montego Bay, Jamaica to attend the annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace.

CHTA has paired up with Flip.to to raise awareness for the entire region as part of ‘Rhythms of the Caribbean’ storyteller campaign, and the  impact has been remarkable, so far.

Not only that, but we’re working with properties of all shapes and sizes across the Caribbean, working together to make an impact from the regional level all the way down to the hotel.

To celebrate, we’re sharing some of our favorite storytellers from these outstanding travel brands throughout the islands to show how everyone from a locals to travelers are reaching and growing new audiences, netting incredible results each and every day.

Jamaica Inn – Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Jamaica Inn Ocho Rios, Jamaica

Matt joined his fellow travelers to help reach an audience of 55 thousand in just 3 months. These storytellers helped drive impact for Jamaica Inn, converting 3.2x higher than the average paid search campaign, a testament to the receptive warmth of the audience and quality demographic.

Pure Granada – Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique

Pure Granada — Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique

Destination marketers Pure Granada are winning over new travelers for Grenada, Carriacou & Petite Martinique by switching on advocacy. In just the first 2 months, their storytellers have reached an audience of more than 200 thousand travelers worldwide, driving thousands of site visitors and warm leads for the destination.

El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton – San Juan, Puerto Rico

El San Juan Hotel, Curio Collection by HiltonSan Juan, Puerto Rico

Lesley visited El San Juan Hotel for rejuvenation and relaxation. She and her fellow travelers placed the hotel at the center of their rich, authentic stories shared. Together, they introduced the hotel worldwide, helping earn over 600 warm leads in just 15 weeks—each who are being delivered authentic, personal conversations and nurtured for a future visit to this picturesque property.

The Crane – St. Philip, Barbados

The Crane – St. Philip, Barbados

The Crane is no stranger to success. They proved to be the perfect fit for George and his family, and memories like those shared have a lasting impact for their resort.

In only 15 weeks, travelers reached an audience of over 200 thousand, proven to be the warmest, most receptive audience for their resort by converting leads at over 3x the industry benchmark.

Thatch Caye Island Resort – Dangriga, Belize

Thatch Caye Island Resort – Dangriga, Belize

A peaceful moment captured during Steven’s stay at Thatch Caye Island Resort speaks volumes to the natural beauty that surrounds the property. He brought over 100 visitors back to the hotel’s site all on his own一tapping into new audiences previously out of reach. And he’s joining fellow travelers each and every day to reach new audiences for Thatch Caye.

Ladera Resort – Soufriere, Saint Lucia

Ladera Resort – Soufriere, Saint Lucia

Hana was awestruck by the beauty at Ladera Resort. Her favorite travel memory was shared to over 400 friends & relatives一fellow travelers with similar interests and buying habits, and the perfect demographic for their resort.

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – La Baie de Silence, Saint Lucia

Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – La Baie de Silence, Saint Lucia

Sugar Beach’s staff made an incredible impression for Grant and his wife, going above and beyond for their stay.

So much so, it was an experience Grant was excited to share on to friends & family, and helped track impact for their hotel on top of it. Sugar Beach was introduced to thousands of his friends, with over 200 site visitors coming back to learn about the St. Lucia property, and 131 warm leads to friends just one degree away from Grant and showed interest in a future stay.

Copal Tree Lodge – Punta Gorda, Belize

Copal Tree Lodge – Punta Gorda, Belize

Cale joined other travelers-turned-storytellers when he shared his wonderfully exceeded expectations of Copal Tree Lodge. In just 3 months, over 36 thousand friends & relatives were personally introduced by someone they know and trust, resulting in hundreds of warm leads for this unique Belize property.

Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort Curaçao – Newport, Curaçao

Santa Barbara Beach and Golf Resort Curaçao – Newport, Curaçao

Suzanne captured a timeless memory to share for years to come with Santa Barbara Resort Curacao at the center of her experience. This compelling story matters the most to her friends & family and they drove impact for the property一over 1,500 site visits and 164 warm leads to Santa Barbara Resort Curacao一in the most authentic way possible.

Bay Gardens Resorts – Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia

Bay Gardens Resorts – Gros-Islet, Saint Lucia

Bay Gardens attentive hospitality inspired Kennedy to join other traveler-turned-storytellers in sharing their experiences at the resort. Together, they’re warmly introducing these exceptional properties to new audiences, in the most trusted way possible—all while getting more for every dollar they invest into marketing.

Couples Resorts Jamaica – Ocho Rios and Negril, Jamaica

Couples Resorts Jamaica – Ocho Rios and Negril, Jamaica

Susan has been making memories at Couples Resorts in Jamaica for over 10 years. She introduced her friends and family to their beachfront properties, leading to 32 warm introductions to like-minded travelers who showed interest in a romantic getaway of their own.

Casa de Campo Resort and Villas – La Romana, Dominican Republic

Casa de Campo Resort and Villas – La Romana, Dominican Republic

For Gordon and his family, time spent at Casa de Campo was one for the books. Along with other storytellers, they reached over 100 thousand new demographic一all just one degree away.


These are just a few of the storytellers helping net new audiences of travelers through Flip.to, each and every day.

Just can’t get enough? See more stories here, and if you’re heading to Jamaica—get in touch with us here!

Flip.to faves: our top thought-starters to kick off 2019

From kicking off the year with team week here at Flip.to HQ, to hosting our very first Hacktoberfest, 2018 had more than a few high points worth looking back on—from people to product. So we’re celebrating! We assembled a few favorite thought-starters from right here on the Flip.to blog as we gear up for the new year.


The hotel marketer’s guide to the galaxy: Facebook’s search for authenticity

Hotel marketer's Guide To The Galaxy Header

Facebook announced big changes in 2018. We weighed in on the need to shift your marketing–or be left light-years behind.

  • Take an editorial approach to content marketing
  • Become the topic of conversation
  • Reimagine an audience-focused approach to paid advertising

Audiences and influencers: the good, bad, and the fake

Influence Travelers

Reaching & inspiring quality audiences has always been a cornerstone of any effective travel marketing strategy. But now, more than ever, there are more factors to consider—from demographic, to conversion, to even the realness of the audience (all thanks to bots and “follower factories”).

We explore this and more—including our take on sparking authentic conversation—in under 5 minutes.

60 days in: How Tourism Australia won the Super Bowl

Tourism Australia Dundee

At this year’s Superbowl, destination marketing took center stage thanks to Tourism Australia. And (aside from being incredibly fun,) we speak to why it worked, the impact of Australia’s faux-film, and what the future had in store.

All this plus a visit from Mile Marker 630’s own Allison Schult, all in 3 minutes. Watch on!

Cardinal rules: how marketing got off track and a new era ushered in change

Cardinal rules: how marketing got off track and a new era ushered in change

Conversations on marketing and data are no longer confined within the walls of brands alone. As headlines around the world show, now more than ever the general public wants to know that brands are trustworthy, especially when it comes to how their personal information is being used.

In this video, we set out to help travel marketers adapt. Tune in for a discussion on a short history of how we landed here, plus the first step–being a good steward of customer data, and thus a better marketer.

Four get-yourself-thinking tenets of marketing from travel pros

Hacktoberfest guests

If there’s one thing we learned from Hacktoberfest, it’s that you really can’t go wrong with great product & brats.

A few special guests came by to leave their stamp on the creative process, sharing their industry insights and some true tenets of travel marketing.

Shaping an industry: four travel-pro-approved takes on VR for 2019

Head shots of Adam Norko, Alex Husner, Colin Morrison, and Paul Hanak

Heading into 2019, we tapped a few of the folks we call friends on how vacation rentals and property managers should be thinking about growth into 2019.

The scope of these insights were incredibly diverse, with something valuable for everyone to take away. Read on to hear more from some of the industry’s best. 


What were your favorite stories from 2018? Drop us a note to let us know. In the meantime, enjoy the final hours as this year comes to a close. And join us as we continue to shape travel marketing in 2019!

Florida favorites: inspiring stories from our home state

Florida’s the place we call home. But aside from calling it our home state, it’s also one of the top destinations for travel worldwide. Not only is tourism the Sunshine State’s No. 1 industry, we also welcomed a record 116.5 million visitors in 2017.

As travel marketers ourselves, we’re in good company. So what better way to show some love to our the place we call home than to share some of our customer’s brightest and best stories from the Sunshine State!

 

Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa — Vero Beach, FL

Coste d'Este

With advocacy, Costa d’Este is winning over new audiences who are the perfect match for their resort. Dennis captured the expression of pure bliss with her dog while she and her family were on vacation. Her story was shared 250 times, introducing friends and family to Costa d’Este.

Coste d'Este

Kim was a fellow guest at Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa. Not only did the property provide an incredible homebase for her stay, but she had memories to last a lifetime. Together with her fellow travelers, Costa d’Este reached 160,257 travelers in 92 days alone.

 

Playa Largo Resort & Spa — Key Largo, FL

Playa Largo Resort

Yvonne visited Playa Largo Resort for relaxation and left with a lasting impression that she shared on to her friends and family. Her picturesque story captured the attention of 166 like-minded travelers who showed interest in a getaway of their own.

Playa Largo Resort

Playa Largo Resort was at the center of this memory for Ginger and her family. Not only was her story shared 178 times, but the impact of she and fellow travelers just like her led to over 2,789 warm introductions to Playa Largo.

 

Resort Collection — Panama City Beach, FL

Resort Collection

Phil’s breathtaking experience of his adventures with Resort Collection at the center is compelling for any traveler—but it’s the most compelling to his friends & family. Thanks to Phil and other traveler-turned-storytellers, a new audience of over 4,000 future travelers are being reached each and every day.

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort — Sandestin, FL

Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort

For Caleb and his family, time spent at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort are full of moments to rekindle. This one in particular helped drive impact for Sandestin—to the tune of over 1,000 site visitors and 95 warm leads to folks just one degree away from Caleb—and the perfect fit for this beachside resort.

Hammock Beach Resort — Palm Coast, FL

Hammock Beach

Nicole’s story reminds us that there’s beauty waiting to be discovered around every corner. For Hammock Beach, memories shared by guests like Nicole have a lasting impact for their resort. She joined her fellow storytellers for the resort to help reach 177,127 friends and family in the most authentic way possible.

South Seas Island Resort — Captiva, FL

At South Seas, Lorne returned to nature, surrounded with peace and quiet, sharing the resort with more than just other travelers!. She joined 90 fellow storytellers to share her “South Seas Sun & Fun”, one of many compelling stories that captured the authentic experiences at South Seas.

Trump International Resort Miami — Sunny Isles Beach, FL

Trump International Resor Miami

Melissa basked in honeymoon bliss at Trump International Resort Miami. She went on to share her incredible story with her friends and family, other like-minded travelers, helping their resort earn 111 warm introductions一all just one degree away.


These are just a few of the many unforgettable Florida experiences being shared to new audiences of travelers each and every day. If you’d like to see more, let’s talk!

Plus, if you’re a fellow-Floridian and want to learn about something special we’re doing in our home state—take a peek here to how to let travelers reach & win over entirely new audiences with Flip.to and VISIT FLORIDA.

We’ll share how advocacy powers awareness, warmer relationships, and a whole lot more.

Shaping an industry: four travel-pro-approved takes on VR for 2019

A few weeks ago we hit the VRMA circuit at the 2018 International Conference in ‘Viva Las Vegas.’ Not only was it a great time to catch up with old friends (and make new ones) it was also an insightful few days of meaningful conversation that got us thinking about where the VR industry has been, and where it’s going—from marketing to tech and beyond.

As we pondered these questions, we weren’t alone. In fact, we tapped a few of those folks we call friends on just what takeaways came out of the conference, but at an even higher level, how vacation rentals and property managers should be thinking about growth into 2019.

Here’s what they had to say:


VRMA International is a great space for vendors & property managers to exchange ideas. Going into this conference, what were you hoping to gain from these conversations? Any fun learnings that you were surprised by?

Alex Husner, CMO at Condo-World Resort Properties

This year’s VRMA International had the largest quantity of attendees in the organization’s history, as well as the widest variety of vendors and speakers.

Many of the panel discussions spoke to the complex nature of vacation rental connectivity. I found the most interesting conversations revolved around this issue, both at a global level for the future of the industry as well as for our own pursuits at Condo-World.

Despite unprecedented attention and investment funding being directed at vacation rentals, I’m concerned that there still seems to be a large disparity between the understanding of how our product differs from hotels, as well as how much our product differs from market to market.

Commoditization is clearly a priority of the major OTAs, which may be attainable…but if it comes at the expense of changing the core value proposition of a vacation rental to make it more like a hotel so it’s easier to sell, we need to be worried about the long term effects this will have on our industry.

One of the speakers used the phrase “constructively unhappy” in their presentation. Better, more flexible solutions can be developed as long as they’re growing alongside the needs of those who will use it. The more open communication that can be had between vendors and property managers at events like VRMA International are certainly a step in the right direction.

We’re big on seeing where the trajectory of travel is headed. At a high level, what are the needs and expectations you see for vacation rental marketing in 2019? What are the small changes that marketers need to be making today to adjust?

Paul Hanak, Director of Digital Marketing at ICND

Getting website traffic has dramatically changed over the last year. Not only are individual companies having to battle with the likes of HomeAway and Vacasa for search rankings, but they’re also having to fork out cash to invest more into Pay Per Click as well.

For the past couple years, Google has really focused on User Experience and actually made User Experience a ranking factor. Think about this:

  • Making your site secure with HTTPS… ranking factor.
  • Making your site mobile friendly… ranking factor.
  • Page load speed… ranking factor.

Even the RankBrain algorithm that tracks if a user visits your site and bounces to find another is a key component. All of these metrics directly and indirectly affect how the user acts on your website. Google’s ultimate goal, and always has been, is to serve the user with the “best possible user experience” on the websites it serves to users.

The new trend, however, has switched to the E-A-T principle: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust.

A recent algorithm update demoted websites that didn’t seem trustworthy, despite the fact they had loads of information and content on their respective topics. While Google hasn’t come out and specifically said that E-A-T is a ranking factor, they are putting more stock into how trustworthy a website is based on the authors behind a website.

Takeaways?

  • Have a good reputation on the internet with good reviews from various sources.
  • Use trust signals on your website, ESPECIALLY your “About Us” page. (Team photos, smiling faces, guest reviews, community involvement, etc etc. are all great examples to instill trust into a user.)

Amy Hinote put out her recap of VRMA last month. One comment she made: “The accelerating pace of change in the vacation rental industry was apparent to all.” And she also notes something else that stood out to her: “the addition of representation from venture capital groups, private equity firms, global travel industry consultants, OTAs, urban short-term rental providers, and even Google.”

That’s a lot of new big players getting involved. For property managers, what does this mean and how should they be thinking about their approach? For travel tech?

Adam Norko, Director Short Term Rentals (STR) Sales at PointCentral

The short term rental space is growing and maturing at a rapid pace. As VRM Intel points out, this was very evident at the VRMA International trade show with the presence of large household names and deep investment pockets.

This is great news for the entire industry. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

However, change does bring challenges and difficult decisions. Property (perhaps we should start saying “Asset” instead) Managers need to be willing to embrace change and be very selective with their time and resources.

The focus needs to be on streamlining processes and improving the guest experience.

From a technology perspective, this means a focus on tech that reduces friction points in operations and guest experience.

This rapid growth also brings increased scrutiny. As we continue to compete with hotels, we need to be prepared to meet the same hotel standards. Regulations, guests, and homeowners are all demanding improved standards.

As an industry we need to improve our standards proactively rather than waiting to react to negative market forces.

The quickest improvement is the need to embrace safety standards, starting with controlling who has access to the homes through enterprise smart home control.

This small step improves safety, streamlines operations, and provides a great guest experience. At this point in the industry growth, it’s hard to find more “bang for your buck.”

What did you feel were the big solves lodging providers were looking for at VRMA? Do these point to bigger shifts in how vacation rentals are thinking about marketing?

Colin Morrison, System Consultant at NAVIS

More and more VRMs are looking for ways to decrease their dependency on more expensive channels so that they can reduce their cost of sale. While there is no “one perfect solution,” there was a strong contingency of experienced vendors at the recent VRMA conference who provide cohesive tools and strategies for growing the direct booking channel.

Hotels determined in August 2011 that the most profitable distribution channel is the direct channel and savvy hotels are starting to use metrics like “net RevPAR” as a way to analyze their business. The vacation rental equivalent of this is net RevPAU which translates to “Net Revenue per Available Unit.” This is calculated by dividing the sum of all gross rental revenue less the acquisition costs by the number of homes or units in a rental program. This could also be analyzed post owner split as a net-net RevPAU.

When the cost of sale by booking channel is analyzed at as part of an evaluation of a company’s effectiveness to drive revenue to the bottom line, even with the strategy whereby VRMs are passing OTA fees onto guests or shared with homeowners, the direct channel is still the most profitable channel in the Vacation Rental industry. The reason for this is the customized and relevant experience that the VRM can deliver to a direct guest as part of the guest journey from looking to booking and beyond.

Conversion is also the highest for this channel and there is a high likelihood that over 50% of guests who book directly on your site have reached out to your reservations team directly as well. Furthermore, direct channel guests have a high likelihood at becoming guests for life and the acquisition cost for repeat guests is far lower than new guests, so guest experience is paramount for a successful VRM.


The scope of these insights are reflective of just how diverse this conference was—there was something valuable for everyone to take away, from listening into the panels, down to personal conversations to be had.

What are your thoughts on the trajectory of travel marketing? Join the conversation by saying hello or shooting me a note here.

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