Introducing: Influencer Labs

At Flip.to, we’re big believers in taking hospitality marketing to a new frontier. We share in celebrating experiences from travelers around the world, and work with folks truly passionate about providing top notch service at incredible destinations.

Somewhere, travel marketing got away from all of that, at the expense of hotels and travelers alike. So we set out to make things right.

Polished product aside, we knew this wouldn’t be a project we’d undertake alone. Nope. This would be an all-hands call with the goal of threading together perspectives from the best in the hospitality industry (and beyond) into a new fabric that defines great marketing.

That’s a pretty lofty task. So where did we start? Naturally, we called a few friends.

INFLUENCER LABS WERE BORN

Orlando Influencer Lab agenda

The idea for the labs was pretty simple. Invite some of the brightest minds in the local community to share their thoughts, spark the conversation, and then let it meander wherever our thought-leaders take it.

Ultimately we landed on very small, by-invitation events held with industry insiders on how to move travel forward—the type of honest conversation that can only happen in an intimate group of smart folks.

From broad topics in marketing, to a “mission to Mars” Elon Musk-style discussion, the groundwork was laid.

THE PILOTS: WHERE CONVERSATION TO MOVE TRAVEL FORWARD ALL BEGAN

Next up was to get the labs off the ground. To do so, we narrowed down three cities from coast-to-coast to be our experiments. And to fuel great conversation, we hosted dinner & compelling dialog with top minds in travel.

Influencer Lab: Orlando

The Alfond Inn

The good company:

  • Maurice Arbelaez, Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing, Vista Cay Resort by Millenium
  • Susan Keaveney, Marketing Director, The Shores Resort & Spa
  • Tony Aslanian, Director of Sales & Marketing, BENCHMARK, A Global Hospitality Company
  • Kit McClelland, Director of Sales and Marketing, Caribe Royale All Suite Hotel and Convention Center
  • Jessica Purslow, Area Director of Sales, TravelClick

Hosted by:

  • Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships, Flip.to
  • Diane Van Leunen, Director of Marketing, Flip.to

The biggest takeaways:

  • An all-Central-Florida cast and crew, this inaugural lab is where it all started. (In our hometown, no less.) Our influencers honed in on what matters most—beyond technology, marketing, and everything else—hospitality.
  • Hoteliers consistently go above and beyond when a guest is on property to exceed expectations. Now it’s time to take that same passion everywhere else: like your marketing, digital experiences, communication before and after the stay, and more.
  • Why? Sparking conversations and building relationships is at its heart what this industry is all about. So make sure that no matter how you’re interacting with your guest, that’s the intent that shows through.

Influencer Lab: Myrtle Beach

Travinia Italian Kitchen

The good company:

  • Alex Husner, CMO, Condo-World
  • Pete DiMaio, Director of Client Success, Fuel Travel
  • Matt Klugman, DOSM, Vacation Myrtle Beach Resorts
  • Patrick Norton, VP of Sales & Marketing, Brittain Resorts & Hotels
  • Josh Williams, Digital Marketing Director, Visibility and Conversions
  • Jacob Smith, Marketing Manager, Sandy Beach Resort
  • Jay McLaurin, Market Manager, Expedia

Hosted by:

  • Richard Dunbar, Director of Partnerships, Flip.to
  • Stuart Butler, COO, Fuel Travel

The biggest takeaways:

  • In Myrtle Beach, the market knows that to win travelers, you must first win them for the destination. After all, if you’re bidding for someone that wants to head to say, New York, and you’re in Myrtle Beach, they’re not likely booking your property anytime soon.
  • Taking this to heart, Myrtle Beach has become the example of “a rising tide lifts all boats,” working collaboratively from the ground up. And it’s been a win-win-win: for the destination, for their properties, and for the travelers.
  • The takeaway? Working together matters—and even promotes healthy competition—thanks to a healthy market.

Influencer Lab: Seattle

Edgewater Hotel

The good company:

  • Andrew Assante, Vice President Business Development, VR Cinematic​
  • Meredith Mara, Vice President, Sales, Coastal Hotel Group
  • Lindley Ferris, Vice President Marketing and Account Services, GCommerce
  • Frances Somers, Senior Marketing Manager, Content & Voice, Amazon Restaurants
  • Brent Lindberg, Principal and Founder, Fuseneo
  • Jenny Bullock, Senior Marketing Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Expedia, Inc.

Hosted by:

  • Diane Van Leunen, Director of Marketing, Flip.to
  • Raul Vega, Senior Director of Sales, Flip.to

The biggest takeaways:

  • Looking beyond our industry is a must. As shown by the diverse set of backgrounds who joined us at this lab, our industry should constantly be looking outward for ideas on better serving travelers.
  • So, where do you start? Consider that no matter the path-to-purchase, in every industry it’s all about anticipating the needs of people, and better serving the personal needs of those people at every step along the way. And at the end of the day, people want to be inspired, not sold to.
Influencer Lab: Seattle, hosted at the famed Edgewater Hotel
Influencer Lab: Seattle, hosted at the famed Edgewater Hotel

2019: TAKING INFLUENCER LABS WORLDWIDE

It was obvious from the pilot labs that something was sticking. And we knew that it was time to take this type of conversation to a larger scale.

So, back to boldly taking hospitality to a brand new frontier… 2019 has a ton in store, with labs lined up across the country and around the globe. In fact, the first few are already taking shape:

  • Influencer Lab: Montego Bay
  • Influencer Lab: Denver
  • Influencer Lab: Maho Beach

Be on the lookout for more to come from each of these regions, with lots of opportunity to join the conversation. Collaboration and bringing new ideas to light are musts in order to set a new course and move travel forward, together.

With Flip.to, Adventures on the Gorge primed for season ahead after inspiring new audience of more than 160K in 6 months

March 19, 2019 — Orlando, FL — Adventures on the Gorge—premier West Virginia adventure destination on the rim of the New River Gorge—has tapped the Flip.to advocacy marketing platform to drive growth by opening up an entirely new channel of travelers for their vacation resort.

6 MONTHS OF GROWTH WITH ADVOCACY

Launched in August of 2018, the property has sparked conversations with travelers worldwide, since reaching a new audience of over 160,000. This is in addition to converting thousands of unique site visitors and warm leads who are being nurtured down the path to becoming a future guest with the help of the Flip.to platform.

By tapping into Flip.to, Adventures on the Gorge is turning their travelers into storytellers who go on to share the highlight of their experiences to friends and family around the globe. In turn, Adventures on the Gorge is reaching wide, new audiences who are the perfect demographic for their unique experience.

Trust is a critical piece of the success of the platform. As Nielson, GoogleExpedia and other sources have continuously shown over time, recommendations from friends & family weigh heavily on travel decisions being made today. This is especially true at the point of inspiration—to the tune of ⅔ of all travelers, according to Expedia’s research for their 2016 American, British, and Canadian travelers’ paths to purchase.

With these impacts, the platform has opened up a new marketing channel to drive direct revenue for Adventures on the Gorge.

GEARING UP FOR 2019

A pioneer in the adventure resort industry, Adventures on the Gorge has over 40 years of experience bringing unique, adrenaline-fueled adventures to those traveling to the New River Gorge. Their peak visitation runs from mid-spring to the end of summer, edged with shoulder seasons and closing in the winter to prepare for the next peak.

For their marketing team, this meant the ability to continue reaching new audiences over the shoulder and closed seasons was critical to maintain growth.

The advocacy platform presented a unique solution to not only drive more business into their shoulder seasons, but also to continue to nurture and grow an audience of potential future bookers heading into next spring, setting up for the following year.

In fact, even during the months they’ve been closed, travelers have continued sharing stories to friends and family worldwide. This has added up to 60K+ in reach since December alone, raising awareness to hundreds of potential visitors each and every day, all who are being introduced in the most authentic way possible.

The platform goes on to help convert this pool of prospects, previously out of reach, into warm leads who are now in unique, personal conversations—each being nurtured to a future adventure for the the next season.

TAKING A STORYTELLING APPROACH TO MARKETING  

Beyond building an entirely new audience and growing relationships with their guests, the platform has helped amplify their efforts with a storytelling approach to marketing, letting guests share unique perspectives that only they can provide—more authentic than any ad.

With Flip.to, Adventures on the Gorge is netting a library of authentic, legally-owned content to highlight the travel experiences their guests are sharing, with the resort at the center of the story.

These candid adventures from their travelers have built a strong narrative that’s true to their brand and inspires travel, infusing a level of authenticity into all of their efforts.

Adventures on the Gorge 4-story-photo set
Stories and experiences shared by recent travelers to Adventures on the Gorge.
See more at:
https://adventuresonthegorge.stories.travel

GETTING STARTED

Drawn to the rim of the New River Gorge by world-class whitewater, rock climbing, mountain biking, and hiking, the founders of Adventures on the Gorge were driven to create a resort that could live up to the natural wonders that surrounded it. To see the authentic experiences being shared firsthand, visit, http://adventuresonthegorge.stories.travel/gallery or reserve your adventure today at https://adventuresonthegorge.com/.

To get started with Flip.to for hotels, the advocacy platform for that reaches, converts and inspires and entirely new global audience every day, take a tour, or see other hotels shining on the platform, here.  

New watchlist: Reimagined marketing that’s traveler-first

We’ve made our rounds on everything from revenue management to marketing and beyond. After picking up a few things along the way, we’re happy to share them with you.

Join hosts Stuart Butler and Richard Dunbar as we talk relationship-building, infusing real hospitality into your marketing, and inspiring every traveler’s journey to your property in four webisodes.

Stay up-to-date with more videos in the series, sent right to your inbox.




We’ll share these thought-starters straight to your inbox, once weekly. What’s that look like?

Webisode 1:  Fueling great storytelling

Set your marketing apart by providing real value to your audience. We’ll share how this mindset nurtures long-term relationships with your travelers that keeps them coming back.

Webisode 2: Fundamentals first

Tune into the importance of infusing the same hospitality you show on property into to your marketing strategy, nailing the basics and growing from there.

Webisode 3: Getting better every day
How to level up your marketing by caring for your brand and your guests.

Webisode 4: Nurture lasting relationships

In our final webisode, we talk strategies to create memorable experiences that keep your guests coming back again and again.

At Flip.to and Fuel, we work hard to help travel brands around the world level up their marketing. Tune in below, and join us in the conversation—as we tackle challenges in travel together.

Hard Rock Daytona Beach debuts to nearly a million in milestone opening with Flip.to marketing platform

January 29, 2019 — Daytona Beach, FL —Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach has switched on an entirely new approach to travel marketing with Flip.to, the advocacy marketing platform for hotels and travel brands.

Flip.to lets guests share their Hard Rock experience worldwide, debuting the property to a massive audience by opening up an entirely new marketing channel. The platform closes the loop on these conversations sparked, delivering authentic, personal conversations to inspire & win over new travelers for the hotel.

For Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach, that’s made a measurable impact for their business, earning nearly 100,000 in monthly reach, and tens of thousands of dollars in direct revenue so far.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: NEWLY OPENED HARD ROCK TAPS FLIP.TO

Opening its doors to guests in March of 2018, Hard Rock International brought modern luxury to the Daytona Beach market in partnership with Summit Hospitality Management, who invested $40 million into the 200-room beachfront property. It’s since set the bar for an entirely new level of guest experience in Daytona, earning its AAA 4-Diamond status just five months after hosting travelers for the first time.

Beyond the hotel’s extensive renovation, raising awareness and attracting travelers for this new Hard Rock experience was a critical piece of a successful launch. That charge was lead by industry-leader and years-long user of Flip.to, Susan Keaveney, Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach’s inaugural Director of Marketing.

Hard Rock Daytona

Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach — 918 N Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118
https://www.hardrockhotels.com/daytona-beach

 

SETTING THE STAGE FOR SUCCESS

Keaveney joined her post in October of 2017—just six short months prior to the hotel’s opening. She quickly aimed to drive demand for the newly minted property that was soon to be at the top of its market.

Knowing the proven results of the platform and its ability to net immediate impact, Keaveney saw Flip.to as the a perfect fit to start inspiring travelers. With this in mind, Keaveney launched the platform in April of 2018 to start powering growth for their property and top her goals.

“As a new concept to the area, we were on a strict timeline and budget to increase the visibility for this unique Hard Rock experience with the right travelers—everyone from families seeking one-of-a-kind vacations, to those dialing-it-up at one of our events. This meant promoting the authentic spirit that defines the brand to a wide audience that was still highly targeted.

Switching on Flip.to helped tackle this goal by letting travelers share their Hard Rock experience to family & friends globally. This made for an incredibly receptive audience excited to hear about our property, and we saw impact from the first traveler who shared. With the platform we’re easily translating these efforts into business impact, tracking success at every stage down the funnel down to travelers earned.”

With Flip.to, Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach are reaching a new audience of nearly one hundred thousand organically each and every month, totaling more than 860,000 in reach, so far.

This drove more than 52,000 unique site visits and 5,000+ opted-in, warm leads for travelers interested in a trip to the Hard Rock in just the first 9 months, a remarkable 2.7X better than the industry benchmark for paid search, and a testament to the receptive warmth of the audience and quality demographic.

Add to that tens of thousands of dollars in directly booked room revenue, and the platform has made a lasting impression for Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.

Performance compared to the travel industry paid search benchmarks.

 

HARD ROCK STILL SHINES ON THE PLATFORM

With 9 months on the platform, Keaveney and the Hard Rock Hotel team are looking ahead to even more growth on the platform. Together with Flip.to they’re crafting rich experiences to put the newest member of the Hard Rock International brand at the center of every traveler’s journey.

Flip.to President, Ed St. Onge, who’s worked with Keaveney spanning her many roles as a veteran in travel, had this to add:

“Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach provides experiences guests won’t soon forget, and are excited to share on. Flip.to has been key in tapping into what’s well known as an influential factor in choosing travel: recommendations from friends & family. And the impact of the platform extends even far beyond that, with quality that’s simply unmatched.

It’s shown time and again to drive the warmest traffic with higher conversion. And beyond reach, these audiences are being nurtured down to a buying decision, helping the hotel build long-term traveler relationships that net out better in every way.”

Now part of the portfolio for the Hospitality Ventures Management Group (HVMG) as of December, 2018, Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach’s goal is to continue to accelerate. In addition to building a wealth of traveler relationships, the property plans to continue enhancing its marketing strategy side-by-side with the platform. Keaveney added on Flip.to:

“I was an early adopter of the Flip.to platform, and now have been a customer spanning it’s growth at multiple properties I’ve marketed. As the landscape evolved, so too has the platform, bringing solves to the table that truly set out to make travel better for everyone, business and traveler included.

Flip.to will continue to be a part of my marketing strategy and an extension of my team at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.”

Hard Rock Daytona 4-story-photo set
Stories and experiences shared by recent travelers to the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach.
See more at:
https://hardrockhotels.stories.travel

 

GETTING STARTED

Embodying the essence of the Hard Rock brand—a kinetic spirit that’s ageless and electric—panoramic ocean views and legendary amenities are what awaits travelers to the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach. To see the authentic experiences being shared firsthand, visit https://hardrockhotels.stories.travel/gallery, or reserve your stay today at https://www.hardrockhotels.com/daytona-beach.

To get started with Flip.to for hotels, the advocacy platform for that reaches, converts and inspires and entirely new global audience every day, take a tour, or see other hotels shining on the platform, here: https://www.flip.to/customers/hotels.


About Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach

Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach brings the global brand’s iconic vibe and energetic beat to a wide stretch of the world-famous Atlantic shoreline. The 200-room beachfront property features renowned, brand-exclusive offerings and amenities, including The Sound of Your Stay® music program, offering complimentary use of Fender guitars and Crosley record players for in-room jam sessions, as well as a renowned full-service Rock Spa® and Salon, a Rock Shop® and a Body Rock® Fitness Center.

The hotel also includes the signature Sessions restaurant and bar, the open-air Wave Terrace and 20,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, including a versatile ballroom terrace. The property’s resort-style beachfront pool features an expansive oceanfront party deck and outdoor pool bar and grill. Located at 918 N. Atlantic Avenue, just 15 minutes from Daytona International Airport, Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach is owned by Summit Hospitality Management Group. For more information, visit www.hrhdaytonabeach.com.

About Hard Rock International

With venues in 75 countries, including 183 cafes, 27 hotels and 12 casinos, Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s most valuable collection of music memorabilia, which is displayed at its locations around the globe. Hard Rock is also known for its collectible fashion and music-related merchandise and Hard Rock Live performance venues. HRI owns the global trademark for all Hard Rock brands. The company owns, operates and franchises Cafes in iconic cities including London, New York, San Francisco, Sydney and Dubai. HRI also owns, licenses and/or manages hotel/casino properties worldwide. Destinations include the company’s two most successful Hotel and Casino properties in Tampa and Hollywood, FL., both owned and operated by HRI parent entity The Seminole Tribe of Florida, as well as other exciting locations including Atlantic City, Bali, Cancun, Daytona Beach, Ibiza, Orlando, Shenzhen and San Diego. Upcoming new Hard Rock Cafe locations include, Maldives, Manila, Malaga, Georgetown, Fortaleza, Rosario and Chengdu. New Hard Rock Hotel, Casino or Hotel & Casino projects include Berlin, Budapest, Dublin, London, Los Cabos, Madrid, Maldives, New York City, Ottawa, Sacramento, Dalian and Haikou in China. In 2018, Hard Rock International was recognized as a Forbes Magazine Top Employer for Women and Land Operator of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards. For more information on Hard Rock International visit www.hardrock.com.

About Flip.to

Flip.to, the advocacy platform for hotels—Reach, inspire and convert an entirely new global audience of travelers every day with Flip.to.
Flip.to lets your guests introduce your hotel to the world, combining trust with massive reach and introducing your hotel to travelers just one degree away—warm leads who are the perfect fit.  Start building your ever-growing team of advocates who turn meaningful moments into measurable ROI, and instantly see the unmatched impact when you switch on this entirely new channel. http://flip.to

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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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Resort Data Processing and Flip.to announce new preferred partnership: bringing high-performance operations and advocacy together to boost revenue

December 11, 2018 — Vail, CO — Leading property management software, Resort Data Processing (RDP), and Flip.to, the advocacy marketing platform, are proud to announce a new partnership to help hotels, resorts, vacation rentals and travel brands worldwide grow booking potential and win more travelers.

RDP and Flip.to bring unique solutions to travel

Flip.to is reimagining hotel marketing with a powerful platform that lets travelers share the high points of their experiences with the travel brand at the center of the story. This taps into the warmest, most receptive audience yet, while tracking back all the impact, driving revenue and creating a lifelong return traveler base.

Paired with RDP’s latest update in property management software, RDPWinV5, the ability to earn impact and grow revenue for your property with these new tools is easier than ever, enhancing technology and marketing stacks with solutions built for the 21st century hospitality industry.

This seamless partnership will amplify the impact of your PMS solutions. With RDP, data is readily actioned to build impact for your property—from easy-to-run, premade reports to SQL access for super-users.

In fact, RDP allows segmentation for your campaigns by many metrics such as prior dates of stay, guest type, region, source of business, nightly revenue, and many more.

This pairs easily with the advocacy platform, building richer profiles that help build stronger relationships with guests and travelers. And together with the Flip.to platform, is proven to increase bookings, as well as return guests reservations.

Get in touch

With RDP, travel marketers get back to spending time putting heads in beds, we will handle the rest. Get in touch at http://www.resortdata.com for a walk through.

Spark interest in your property with Flip.to, today. To learn more about the impact of advocacy for your resort, hotel, vacation rental or destination, take a tour.

Experience Cocoa Beach and Visit Myrtle Beach shine at Adrian Awards

Hands down, our customers rock. We see this time and time again with their outstanding engagement and conversion rates. When they win, we cheer.

Out of more than 1,100 entries submitted to the 2018 HSMAI Adrian Awards, two of our very own won awards for Digital Marketing! Experience Cocoa Beach and Visit Myrtle Beach cut through the noise.

Experience Cocoa Beach: One year strong with silver

Westgate Resort tapped into Flip.to to help boost the marketing efforts for Experience Cocoa Beach. In just one year, Experience Cocoa Beach reached over 1.4 million travelers with the help of their guests, leading to over 11 thousand authentic warm leads.

 Top featured photos from Experience Cocoa Beach for Adrian Awards

Christina Leake, Social Media Director for Westgate Resorts had this to say about the platform:

“As organic reach for businesses on social becomes more and more limited, the Flip.to platform provides a powerful solve for the challenges facing brands.

Their authentic approach to enlisting real people to tell their real stories is incredibly potent. It’s not just one of the most innovative ways to use social—moving forward, it will be the only way to truly reach these audiences in an organic way.”

What else about their performance stood out? Earning 2.4x higher lead conversion compared to industry paid search benchmark.

Visit Myrtle Beach wins bronze

In one year for Visit Myrtle Beach and their properties, over 30 million friends and family were reached worldwide—each with a personal introduction to the hotels.

Top featured photos from Visit Myrtle Beach for Adrian Awards

Scott Schult, Executive Vice President, Visit Myrtle Beach had this to say:

“It’s nearly impossible to effectively compete with AirBNB and the OTAs at the point of purchase. They invest billions a year in marketing, advertising and technology to win guests.

Our goal as destination marketers is to compete well before that and reach travelers at the point of inspiration.

That’s exactly what we’re doing in Myrtle Beach with Flip.to. We’re building partnerships to benefit both our hotels and destination, and together, we’re well on our way to growing and inspiring the largest new audience of Myrtle Beach travelers, ever.”

Even more—their Destination Advocacy Cooperative is the first of its kind, bringing big wins to the region, partners and travelers.


Congrats to these two outstanding travel brands for being marketing rockstars! If you’re ready to switch on advocacy, let’s chat. We’ll share how advocacy is changing the game for the hospitality and tourism industries worldwide.

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