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.

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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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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Flip.to customers show up big in Travel + Leisure’s 2018 World’s Best Awards

We think our customers are some of the best—and we’re not the only ones! Travel + Leisure recently released their 2018 list of the greatest hotels, resorts, destinations, and more as voted on by their readers. No surprise to us, more than a dozen of our incredible customers were recognized.

Watch here for some of the travelers who’ve shared their experiences at these properties and shown that advocacy is a win for everyone:

 

Congratulations to these top-notch properties for this well-deserved recognition!

Chileno Bay Resort & Residences

#72 in the Top 100 Hotels in the World
#7 in the Top 10 Resort Hotels in Mexico

Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués

#61 in the Top 100 Hotels in the World
#5 in the Top 10 Resort Hotels in Mexico

Hotel Wailea

#41 in the Top 100 Hotels in the World
#2 in the Top 15 Resort Hotels in Hawaii

Jamaica Inn

#9 in the Top 25 Resort Hotels in the Caribbean

Ladera Resort

#5 in the Top 25 Resort Hotels in the Caribbean

The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort

#5 in the Top 10 Resort Hotels in the American South

Solage, an Auberge Resort

#3 in the Top 10 Resort Hotels in California

The Henderson

#3 in the Top 10 Resort Hotels in Florida

Wentworth Mansion

#6 in the Top 10 Hotels in Charleston

Palms Hotel and Spa

#3 in the Top 10 Greater Miami Beach Resort Hotels

The Betsy, South Beach

#2 in the Top 10 Greater Miami Beach Resort Hotels

Petit Ermitage, Los Angeles

#7 in the Top 10 City Hotels in Greater Los Angeles

The Lodge at Woodloch

#7 in the Top 10 Domestic Destination Spas

Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts (including Banyan Tree Cabo Marqués & Banyan Tree Mayakoba)

#16 in the Top 20 Hotel Brands in the World

Auberge Resorts Collection (including Chileno Bay & Solage)

#10 in the Top 20 Hotel Brands in the World


To see more of our customers and learn how advocacy is helping them win travelers at a scale like never before, visit our Customers page, or give us a shout!

The memory-making business: building lasting relationships with vacation rental guests

Vacation rental properties provide travelers with a taste of home away from home that they can experience with the ones who matter most.

As you help guests make lasting memories with their loved ones, they’re creating stories they’re excited to share—with your property at the center. This is the perfect time to build lasting relationships with travelers, inspiring them to visit your property over and over again.

We love when vacation rental guests tell their stories of incredible experiences, so we’re sharing them with you! Here are some of our favorites:

Bald Head Island Property Management — Bald Head Island, NC

“This was our third trip to Bald Head but second trip with our friends and everyone’s kids. It is a one in a million kind of place, and we can’t wait to watch our kids grow up each year we vacation there!! It reminds us to slow down and truly enjoy the little things!!” – Hilary Y.

Hilary’s family has years of memories on Bald Head Island, and those experiences make it their go-to vacation spot. Not only have they shared their stories and become some of Bald Head Island’s most powerful advocates, but they’ve brought back friends to make new memories together.

And if one story wasn’t enough, check out some more incredible memories from travelers to Bald Head Island below:

 

Finger Lakes Premier Properties — Canandaigua, NY

“The combination of the relaxing comfort of a spectacular home with a stunning landscape and vista, made for a most memorable long weekend. We will definitely return!” – Ginny U.

Finger Lakes Premier Properties is inspiring new travelers to visit through the stories of their guests. Ginny is already planning to return in the future and by sharing her travel story, she warmly introduced family and friends to create memories of their own.

The Beach Club — Gulf Shores, AL

“This is our second year to stay here and we love it. We have a big group of parents and kids that come down for a high school baseball tournament and lots of memories have been made each year. Not only is the resort perfect the beds and pillows are the best!” – Michele W.

From the little touches to the overall experience, every moment a guest spends at your vacation rental is a chance to impress and build lasting relationships. The Beach Club Resort is taking care to continue being a part of Michele’s travel stories worth sharing.

Tahoe Getaways — Lake Tahoe, CA

“Very friendly and responsive staff. We will definitely be booking all of our trips through you guys!” – Jason L.

Tahoe Getaways took the chance to truly shine during Jason’s stay with the outstanding guest experience given by its staff. These interactions make all the difference and have made repeat guests out of these travelers.

Thomas Beach Vacations — Myrtle Beach, SC

“My family and I have been coming to Myrtle for almost 70 years! We have photo albums full of memories but nothing compares to that first moment when you see the ocean and smell that salty air!” – Jan R.

Jan’s family has decades of favorite moments in Myrtle Beach, making the destination a second home. By sharing her stories on to family and friends, she’s also introducing Thomas Beach Vacations to new audiences that are the perfect demographic for their property.

Garrett Realty Services — Destin, FL

“My husband and I are walking our young granddaughter down to the waters edge so she can get her toes wet. We’ve stayed at Beach Crest two years in a row now and love it.” – Roseanne L.

Roseanne’s story is a perfect example of how travel stories span generations. The memories she and her family have kept them coming back and make for compelling, authentic introductions between the property and her family and friends.

Newman-Dailey Resort Properties — Destin, FL

“Mother’s day weekend in Destin with my amazing daughter!!” – Paula B.

Paula’s story reminds us of what makes travel truly special: incredible experiences with the ones who matter most. The trip is one they won’t soon forget, and it’s a story worth sharing.

Turquoise Place — Orange Beach, AL

“The beautiful room with the amazing view was the best part of our stay. Having two indoor pools to choose from was also a very big part of our vacation, given that it was so cool outside over spring break.” – Brett J.

Through providing a truly extraordinary guest experience, vacation rental properties build relationships that last. Not only has Turquoise Place made Brett and his family satisfied guests, but many of their travelers have become advocates to the tune of thousands of introductions.

Honeymoon Hills — Gatlinburg, TN

“Absolutely beautiful views, and great cabin. We enjoyed our time. Hot tub was perfect and the heart shape tub was such a great idea. This picture was our first morning here in Honeymoon Hills as a married couple. Great weather, coffee, my spouse, and look at that view, Perfection! Thank you guys for a great experience.” – Veronica B.

Veronica and her husband made once-in-a-lifetime memories at Honeymoon Hills. By sharing their stories, she and other guests have helped create thousands of rich introductions to the property.

Flip.to on the road: What we learned at DMA West

The lessons learned from DMA West were many. Aside from being introduced to the truly incredible city of Spokane (seriously, there is something for everyone, from great wine to arts & the outdoors—it’s on my radar for another visit!), the event brought together destination marketers on the front lines of where travel and tech are headed.

One presentation in particular stood out, from David Bratton over at Destination Analysts. He had a really interesting approach on how to improve your site, from content to context, through the eyes of your visitors.

Check out my recap:

 

Check out Destination Analysts here for more on their insights from the tech summit. Plus for more on this great city west of the Rocky Mountain foothills, get inspired over at Visit Spokane.

And as always, join the conversation! Reach out, or give me a follow here and let me know what you thought of our takeaways.

NAVIS Leaders Conference 2018: Hidden treasures

Earlier this month, we got to participate in the NAVIS Leaders Conference 2018 at the Tradewinds Resort in St. Pete Beach—just a short drive from Flip.to’s home base in Orlando.

From on-point presentations to opportunities to connect with some pretty amazing people, NLC left its attendees with incredible insights that truly got to the heart of hospitality marketing. Thanks to NAVIS for a fantastic event and the chance to take part!

Check out the video below for my highlights, including the winners of our Hidden Treasures story contest—thank you to everyone who shared stories!

 

We love shaking up the hospitality marketing scene alongside folks like NAVIS (and in beautiful locations like Tradewinds). We can’t wait for next year’s event!

Storytellers at work: Families share memorable Caribbean moments to audiences worldwide

Last month, we had the chance to attend the annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association Marketplace event.

Few themes rang louder than this: let the Caribbean become the topic of travelers’ conversations as we work together to raise the region. Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló probably said it best: “Be the spot everyone’s talking about.”

This we know: real people sharing real stories to family and friends is one of the most powerful ways to warmly introduce new travelers to a destination. For the Caribbean, it’s an important way to shape the perception of the vibrant and resilient region.

Family travelers in particular are eager to share. And the best part? They’re visiting the Caribbean (and your destination!) here and now.

Meet some of the storytellers and their families reaching new audiences for just a few of the region’s stunning properties—while showing the world that the Caribbean is open for business.

The Somerset on Grace Bay — Turks and Caicos

“In 2016, I got married at the Somerset and in 2017 we brought our son here for his first vacation. We hope to come back again soon!” – Curtin S.

The Somerset at Grace Bay will always hold a special place in the hearts of Curtin and his family. Their milestones celebrated at the resort make it a place they feel connected to, already planning to visit again.

Las Terrazas Resort — Belize

“Caught our own lobster that day and Chef Nolvin at O Restaurant cooked it up to perfection!” – Ashley L.

Ashley’s family shared about the immersive activities and dining experiences at the Las Terrazas Resort this January, introducing the resort to a new audience in the most authentic way possible.

The Crane Resort — Barbados

“Extremely courteous staff in a beautiful setting… The Crane Resort, a beautiful place with beautiful people.” – Sam B.

The Crane’s hospitable and attentive staff made all the difference for Sam and his family last summer. Sam shared his story to his family and friends, making for incredible first impressions while also leading to more unique site visitors and warm leads interested in visiting the Crane for themselves.

Bolongo Bay Beach Resort — St. Thomas

“My cousin’s wedding was held at Bolongo. It was amazing. Laurie and the staff were so accommodating and every detail was perfect!! Pure paradise!!” – Jennifer C.

Jennifer’s family had an extraordinary experience at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. From start to finish, the resort provided memories that last a lifetime and were shared on to the perfect demographic: Jennifer’s like-minded network of friends.


These are just a few of the many unforgettable Caribbean experiences being shared to new audiences of travelers each and every day.

When your travelers-turned-storytellers share their amazing stories to family and friends, they’ll reach sizeable new audiences in the best way possible—and start conversations with your destination at the center.

If you want to see the incredible impact of storytellers for your destination, let’s talk! We’ll share how advocacy powers new awareness, warmer relationships and a whole lot more.

Introducing Invitations: Grow your largest team of storytellers yet

Advocates are powerful. They’re helping destinations, hotels, and rental properties compete from the point of inspiration—connecting with new & future travelers in a more meaningful way to win them over from the start.

(And we’ve shown you the impact: it’s that big.)

So how do you get even more? More advocates sharing their travel stories… more introductions… more wins!

Introducing: Invitations.

In just a matter of clicks, earn incredible impact when you widen your scope to even bigger audiences. Invite past travelers, their friends and family, your own audiences, and anyone else to share their experiences with your travel brand at the center.

And thanks to your growing team of travelers-turned-storytellers, you’ll spark new conversations with the warmest, most receptive audience yet—at a scale like never before.

Take a peek:

 

If you’re ready to put Invitations to work for your travel brand, reach out. We’ll share how you can power growth (plus warmer relationships and a whole lot more) with advocacy.