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!

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.

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.

How storytellers shape travel marketing: Justin Klingenberg on advocacy

Here at Flip.to, we’re pioneering marketing that’s good for travelers and great for business, too. So when we see our customers using advocacy to change the travel marketing game? Well, we think they’re worth celebrating.

Revenue manager Justin Klingenberg at the Stanley Hotel has spent the better part of the last decade learning hospitality inside and out. He recently shared some of his reflections on how the advocacy platform has revolutionized marketing for their property.

Take a look at what he had to say:


What’s been the impact of using real people as an extension of your marketing team?

Stanley Elk

The value of having past guests introduce potential future travelers to The Stanley Hotel is unprecedented.

Traveling is meant to be a social experience that brings people together. Having previous guests share their experiences helps show the history of The Stanley and experiences to be had on-property, as well as providing future guests an introduction to make them want to create their own experience here at the Stanley.

Plus, we always have confidence that Flip.to is putting our property in front of a warm and quality audience because we are connecting with new potential guests by way of our past guests sharing their stories.

Since we have a positive relationship with our past guests, their family and friends are more likely to show interest in our property because of learning about us through travelers with similar interests and established experiences at the Stanley.

How has using Flip.to helped you top your goals? Were you surprised by any changes you made?

Stanley Hotel Friends

For one, Flip.to has changed my approach to social as a Revenue Manager. The platform has proven that these channels can be used to drive bookings thanks to the organic reach of our travelers sharing to their own audiences. We have been able to drive revenue and loyalty.

With Flip.to, we’ve exponentially grown our reach by inviting guests to become storytellers for The Stanley Hotel and actively engaging with them well beyond their stay. Through these efforts, we’ve generated over 4,000 new “friends”—warm leads interested in a future stay at The Stanley.

At the end of the day, tracking down to dollars is a must. As a Revenue Manager, what’s your take?

Flip.to has helped the Stanley generate new leads and bookings in numerous ways, but one of the most powerful is how the Flip.to platform allows you to interact with your guests in real time while having them become storytellers for your brand.

We have been able to drive massive ROI from the platform via increased booked room nights and ancillary outlet visits.


To keep up with more on what Justin is doing in the world of travel marketing, give him a follow here.

Ready to hear how the advocacy platform can put the power of word-of-mouth marketing to work for your brand with incredible impact? Let’s talk. We’ll share how you can reach, inspire and convert new audiences at a scale like never before.

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Advocacy Academy: Spotlight on Adventures on the Gorge

We love helping our customers get the incredible impact from advocacy each and every day. After all, we pioneered advocacy and are reimagining marketing that’s a win for travelers, great for business and plain ol’ good hospitality.

And if you’ve wondered what you can do to maximize your advocacy efforts through our platform, then read on, because today, we’re bringing you a special edition of Advocacy Academy, spotlighting customers crushing it on the platform (and beyond).


Meet Adventures On The Gorge. This destination in West Virginia is a premier location for whitewater rafting, rock climbing and a lot of fun (like their upcoming Bridge Day event—meet you there?).

Family travelers and adventurers alike come to explore the outfitters of the New River Gorge. One such adventurer? Laura W. and her family. Laura shared about her son’s Scout trip:

Facebook post with story from Laura W., recent traveler to Adventures on the Gorge

Jay Young, the Gorge’s Social Media Manager, (spotting a great opportunity to nurture his guest) saw the post and jumped into action. He not only gave her story a shoutout, but he also invited her to become a storyteller for their brand!

Facebook invitation by Adventure on the Gorge

And storyteller did she become! Together with her friends, Laura’s experience has been shared 20 times in just a few weeks, inspiring 46 friends and family so far to show interest in a future stay. (Opted-in, warm leads for all the marketing types out there…)

This all because Jay went the extra mile to engage Laura, inviting her to share her unique perspective.

But that’s not where this story stops.

When Jay saw the highlight of Laura’s stay, he instantly was reminded of his own son, so he knew that this story would connect with other travelers. He shared it on to his own audiences:

Adventures on the Gorge shares Laura W. story to their page

Right away—you guessed it!—Laura W. showed her excitement. Jay was of course sure to respond back right away, building a stronger relationship with his guest, a true testament to Jay’s sense of hospitality.

Facebook comment by Laura W. to Adventure on the Gorge.


The key from this Advocacy Academy? Engaging authentically with your guests is a win-win for everyone. And while there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to advocacy, there are some great ways to expand your use of the platform.

Look out for more examples of travel brands who are sparking some amazing conversations with their guests, and we’ll leave you with a few tips below:

  • Reach out and respond to guests that engage with your brand and spark a conversation with them.
  • Invitations are a powerful way to earn more storytellers and watch your advocacy impact skyrocket.
  • Share outstanding guest stories to your own audiences right from the Flip.to platform.
  • Lean on your Account Manager for questions and ideas about getting the most out of the platform—we’re here to help!

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

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, and though the event has come to a close, here’s some of what’s stuck with us:


Jason Holic, VP of Digital Marketing at Experience Kissimmee

Understand your traveler’s intent

Jason got a firsthand look at the early stages of our creative process. A longtime destination marketer, he gave his take on the importance of understanding a traveler’s intent in order to connect with them.

“One of the challenges we have is recognizing what the intent of the visitor is on their customer journey.

Are they just looking for inspiration? Are they committed to the destination? Where do we fall on their journey? Do they already know they’re coming to Central Florida or are they in that in-between stage? Or do they just want to know what else there is to do or where to stay? That’s the challenge: figuring out where they are on that path.

As destination marketers, we really need to figure out their place in that journey and also what their level of intent is in order to serve up the content that is most likely going to resonate with them further down that path until they ultimately convert and visit us.”

 

Zach Stovall, Travel photographer, videographer & writer at Zach Stovall Photography

Tell a better brand story

Zach brought his 15+ years of experience in visual storytelling to the mix. On top of being unofficially awarded “Most Authentic Lederhosen,” he shared examples of compelling imagery that helps properties tell a better story.

“[Hotels] need to keep their own stories in mind so they can connect with the appropriate guest for them.

A good story is cohesive, has a solid start, weaves through the whole story process, keeps the reader or the viewer engaged, all the way to the end. It’s all about setting the scene and making it dramatic.

I think it’s important that resorts and hotels use that in all of their marketing.

When they use people to support their marketing, then they can speak more to their ideal guest and they can interact with your brand.”

 

Dr. Dan Spellman, Course Director – Digital Marketing & Personal Leadership at Full Sail University

Start with your “Why”

Dr. Dan shared a historical on how hospitality has changed digitally over the last two decades along with some real-world challenges hoteliers face—and tied all of it back to why. (It’s not his first rodeo here at Flip.to.)

“I was inspired by Simon Sinek’s book, “Start With Why.” I focused on this when talking to hoteliers about their business.

Why are you in the hospitality business? What drives you? What is your motivation when you come to work?

We also looked at our personal why. For me, it was digital media. Things are constantly changing and improving from a digital marketing standpoint.

We would discuss this approach with everyone from top level staff to services. We all wanted the same thing: to serve the guest. And the way each and every hotel does that is different.”

 

Christina Leake, Social Media Director at Westgate Resorts

Unveil experiences

Christina and the team chatted all things travel marketing, from guest storytelling to content marketing, and from the big picture down to the day-to-day application.

“When I first arrived, we were very real estate focused, using a lot of room and interior shots that weren’t resonating with the audience. Almost immediately, we decided to flip the switch to marketing around the experiential—what people are doing while they are on property, around the area, and in the city they are visiting.

By doing that, our audiences have grown exponentially. Our click through rate and revenue have increased as well. Being able to highlight the experiences helps us not only sell the place—it helps us sell the story.”

 


Behind really great product is a lot of collaboration, dynamic teamwork, and, of course, a bit of fun.

And this meeting of the minds was just the start. We’re excited to unveil more in the coming weeks, so be sure to follow us for the big reveal.

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