Earlier this year we shared our excitement to launch NorthCarolinaBound as the first state-wide destination collaborative of its kind. Through this partnership, Visit North Carolina is leading the charge to bring massive value to regional destinations and its lodging industry.
How it’s going
Since our announcement, we’ve been working to onboard an enthusiastic group of folks from independent hotels to branded groups, vacation rentals, and even regional destinations.
From the dreaming phase to the planning phase, Flip.to is helping North Carolina’s properties spark conversations that build relationships and win over travelers.
Sanderling Resort is winning at the Dreaming Phase.
231K friends and family reached in 90 days.
The Grandover Resort & Spa is crushing it in the Planning Phase.
In 90 days, 3,000 planners unveiled, which led to $30K in direct revenue earned.
On the statewide level, Visit North Carolina is creating impact for everyone.
385,000 friends and family reached—a new, right-fit audience—and 8,000 planners unveiled, who are considering a trip to NC.
Visit North Carolina’s Take Only Stories, Leave Only Footprints campaign is currently introducing the state to a trove of enthusiasts interested in outdoor adventure, and bringing added awareness to Outdoor NC’s “Leave No Trace” principles.
Flip.to’s other partners in NorthCarolinaBound are setting up for massive impacts too, and as the groundswell builds, it’s going to be a major win for everyone in the state of North Carolina.
Working to help everyone
“It’s our mission to drive meaningful growth to the tourism industry with innovation that provides measurable impact.
NorthCarolinaBound delivers directly to our destination and lodging partners in all 100 counties while engaging with travelers in positive ways,” said Wit Tuttell, director of Visit NC.
By working together at scale, Flip.to and Visit North Carolina are leading the state to a more profitable future. We continue to add more partners, and grow a collaborative that’s stronger with each passing day.
Take a peek at a few top highlights from our conversation. 🎙️
“…the reason you want to sell the experience is to ultimately sell more time.”
Elevate destination experiences with the community
To help you showcase your property’s destination and its experiences, put to work relationships with past guests, your team, local businesses, and if you have one, your destination marketing organization.
These resources can help you crowdsource the experiences that ultimately help win over new audiences of travelers.
“If you want to stick out amongst your competitive set, be the best source of knowing your community.”
Maximize your role as host, online and off
Once armed with the experiences around your community, use them to win over planners on your site in the consideration phase.
Showcase stories from guests not only enjoying their time at your property, but also encountering these community gems.
“If you can give [the traveler] the information that they need about your destination, things to see and do…you’re setting yourself up for success.”
Have more personal, meaningful traveler conversations
Once travelers are educated and excited about your destination, it’s time to engage them in meaningful conversations on your site. These digital conversations should reflect real-life conversations that aim to be helpful.
By doing so, you’re building stronger relationships and trust among your audience—gains that ultimately help and increase direct, incremental revenue.
“Your website and booking engine should be as good of an experience as if they called you… We should be narrating these digital journeys as a conversation.”
Align marketing + revenue management
Collaborating on an integrated strategy where marketing, revenue management, and distribution are all aligned ultimately means we all can get better, together.
“[The bottom line]—if we don’t all row in the same direction, then we’re not going to have optimal performance.”
Being a better host leads to better profitability
Selling more time leads to greater profitability. When independent hotels shepherd the story of their destination well, that leads to a highly engaged audience that costs less to acquire and opens properties up for extended stays since travelers know how to maximize their time.
Blending that with your revenue management strategy amplifies your impact even more.
“If you’re taking that incremental approach to having better conversations [and] information on your site, you will see… lower costs of acquisition [down to] transaction.”
That means by joining, industry partners like vacation rentals get access to the Flip.to marketing platform thanks to a full sponsorship by the state—so there’s no out-of-pocket costs to take part.
And that’s a big win. With Flip.to, vacation rental marketers reach, inspire and win over travelers in the dreaming and planning phases to grow their direct channel in a way that’s good for everyone—travel brand and traveler alike.
“Visit NC… have sponsored the platform for any lodging provider in the state of North Carolina to be able to use the platform for their own goals and purposes… at no cost to them.”
Reach & inspire an audience of dreamers
Travel brands start by winning over travelers in the dreaming phase, reaching and inspiring a right-fit audience with the help of past guests. Earn warm introductions to their friends and family help you reach a high-quality, right-fit demographic and build your top of funnel with warm leads.
“When we talk about the dreaming phase, we think this is a big opportunity for the vacation rental industry to position themselves to win the hearts and minds of travelers before they’ve even decided they want to travel.“
Win over planners considering North Carolina
In the planning phase, brands spark conversations with travelers deciding where to go next to increase conversion, with the revenue impact tracked in real-time. On average, we’re seeing a double-digit increase in conversion.
“The primary goal of Discovery is to get you into a meaningful conversation with as many people who come to your website as possible. And when you understand what they’re interested in and they tell you who they are…the second goal of Discovery is to drive more people into booking.”
Amplify other marketing efforts
When Flip.to introduced Discovery to Paul Hanak and Diamond Frandsen at ICND, they immediately understood its game-changing capabilities.
“Being able to access first-party data from Discovery for your campaigns “will make your marketing team very happy”.“
Discovery allows partners like ICND to understand shopping windows and launch other highly-targeted marketing campaigns that are based on a traveler’s intent.
“Discovery “opens up an entirely new paradigm on how to market. In the hands of someone who knows what to do with that, it can really change things. This is why we like partnering with ICND…they immediately understood what this would mean to them.”“
Join the hundreds of lodging partners in regions across the state already on NorthCarolinaBound. As a fully sponsored initiative backed by the NC and Flip.to teams—all of the cost and heavy lifting is done.
Destinations, lodging properties and travelers converge with Visit North Carolina’s launch of NorthCarolinaBound, a collaboration on the destination marketing platform Flip.to. For the first time, destination marketers and the lodging industry are joining together to market and win over travelers on a single platform—growing audiences and directly driving revenue for the travel industry.
The goal is to help state tourism accelerate quickly, profitably and sustainably. “It’s our mission to drive meaningful growth to the tourism industry with innovation that provides measurable impact,” said Wit Tuttell, director of Visit NC, a unit of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
“NorthCarolinaBound delivers directly to our destination and lodging partners in all 100 counties while engaging with travelers in positive ways. Our regions and lodging industry will be pleased, as we are, that there’s no cost for them to participate.”
By joining, industry partners get access to the Flip.to marketing platform. Travel brands start by winning over travelers in the dreaming phase, reaching and inspiring a right-fit audience with the help of past guests and locals. In the planning phase, brands spark conversations with travelers deciding where to go next, and increase conversion with the revenue impact tracked in real-time.
“We’re bringing measurable support to our lodging partners. This strategically and effectively connects our destination and partners with travelers. We are confident Flip.to will fortify and complement our efforts to grow leisure travel to Winston-Salem.”
Beyond its power to reach and win over new visitors to the state, the platform provides first-of-its-kind insights to every member that joins, Tuttell said. Regional and statewide demographic data, along with behavioral insights, will inform decisions about the best investments of marketing dollars.
By working together on a single platform, destinations and lodging properties will earn the most profitable business by using these insights to improve their marketing funnel and bottom-line growth, staying the course of dynamic progress for North Carolina.
“NorthCarolinaBound not only brings incredible innovation; the platform brings the state closer to all of our regional destinations, it creates powerful interactions and connections between industry partners and their lodging communities, and tracks measurable impact in real time to revenue—it’s a competitive edge.”
One of the important aspects of collaboration is that—beyond being a sustainable strategy for growth—it grows to become a long term competitive edge.
We’ve seen this proven in Myrtle Beach. Now in a record-performant year after one of the fastest rebounds in the country, early collaboration was the foundation for their recovery.
We’re now 5 years in to the partnership. In lockstep with Alex Husner, CMO of Condo-World and newly elected Chair of the Board of Visit Myrtle Beach, we’ve seen the community soar.
We sat down with Alex to talk about the big wins both organizations have seen, including how the platform is driving their decision-making, a better path to conversion, and tackling their big rocks.
Condo-World and Visit Myrtle Beach agreed that having better conversations and more authentic relationships with travelers would naturally lead to better conversion. That led them to become early adopters of the platform.
“We all knew that there was a better way; a more personalized way to get guests along the funnel.”
Collaborative insights drives decision making
The insights gained from across the community l have helped everyone understand what’s making the most impact down to dollars. That has shaped marketing efforts in real time, and has led to exponential growth in audience and revenue.
“Through Flip.to we’ve been able to build one of the most sophisticated data structures of any DMO in the country.”
Winning over travelers
Whether in the dreaming phase, planning phase or booking phase, Flip.to helps Condo-World and Visit Myrtle Beach reach a high-quality audience, inspiring them with the right message at the right time in their traveler journey.
“We’ve been able to use Flip.to to make more informed decisions on our advertising.”
Better conversations with travelers
A reimagined booking path, Discovery sparks conversations with planners on both sites in a more authentic way, building an audience, learning their intent, and winning them over. This, of course, leads to increased revenue.
“We’ve really flipped the script on how abandonment works. We know there’s a lot of nurturing that needs to happen along the way, and through Flip.to we’re able to do that.”
The Flip.to platform is helping Condo-World and Visit Myrtle Beach grow an owned audience of travelers, enabling them to have better conversations with that audience, and following the impact of those relationships all the way down to dollars.
“Working with the Flip.to team could not be better. They’re passionate about what they do. They’re passionate about technology, but they’re also passionate about travel.”
And it’s working better than we could have dreamed. So far this year, we’ve helped earn and track $37 million across all of Myrtle Beach.
That’s on top of the high quality audience growth, and all of the other benefits of the platform— including a mission that’s been a sustaining factor for their travel industry: collaboration.
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
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
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
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
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
Jenny Bullock, Senior Marketing Manager, Strategic Partnerships, Expedia, Inc.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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’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
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
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 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
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
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.
It’s a wrap—our inaugural Hacktoberfest is in the books.
This all-hands-on-deck hackathon-style event brought our teams together to create an all new feature for the platform, from end-to-end, that reimagines how to tell the visual narrative of a travel brand.
A few special guests joined along the way to collaborate, and after three days of hard work, group think and great food, the project started taking shape.
Here’s a one-minute look at what happened:
The week in review
Throughout the week, there was lots of fun to be had with our team members near and far. From daily “Hackachat” check-in’s, to Thursday’s “Hacktoberfeast” potluck, there was no shortage of Gemütlichkeit—and outstanding teamwork along the way.
Among our top highlights? Visits from a few special guests who share our passion for hospitality and lederhosen.
They brought their expertise in destination marketing, visual storytelling and all things digital, while putting their stamp on the creative process.
A huge “danke schön” to Zach Stovall, Jason Holic, Christina Leake and Dan Spellman for stopping by!
Starting (and ending) with our why
Hacktoberfest was more than trying our hand at pronouncing German words and getting to break out the Flip.to robot. These three days were a chance to hone all of our team’s talents in one place, putting our heads together to trailblaze travel marketing. As Zach commented during his time with us, the more creative minds coming together, the more incredible the outcome.
At Flip.to, design is in our DNA. We know that great marketing isn’t just about having a polished final product—it’s about innovation and solving real challenges for travel marketers to help them do what they do even better.
Hacktoberfest brought this to the forefront. In the following weeks, look for more about the event and what’s coming to the platform soon.
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.
To really get better, it’s important to understand why these events came to be in the first place. As we see it, they’re in large part (long overdue) fixes to spammy marketing practices, fake news, clickbait, and the like, that have people fed-up. And so change is happening.
Now we’re setting out to help travel marketers adapt. Below, I discuss a short history of how we landed here, plus the first step–being a good steward of customer data, and thus a better marketer:
There are some wins in all of this, too.
While immediate changes in how we market day-to-day might change, the truth is that these changes will also help us build our most engaged audience. And that means building stronger relationships with our travelers and customers, too.
Subscribe below if you want to stay up-to-date with more videos in the series, including a deeper dive into opt-in strategies and segmentation. Plus, we love collaborating with movers and shakers in the industry to make travel better.
GDPR. It’s a regulation that, in just over a month, will have a huge impact for marketers everywhere. While building compliance into our platform, we’ve gotten a ton of questions as to why it’s important, and how we’re handling the shift.
To help, we’re raising awareness industry-wide with a primer on how it affects all of us in travel:
To go further, we’re sharing what else we’ve learned.
For one thing, there’s the possibility that your existing marketing database is at risk. Legal counsel or insurance providers may stop use without proof that it’s in compliance. In the short-term, this potentially invaluable asset is where your focus should be.