We probably don’t need to give you any figures to highlight how important the Internet is as part of any marketing strategy in the leisure industry. It goes way beyond merely just the existence of a website and hoping that the sales will follow.
The design of the site itself has to be pleasing to the eye and attempt to appeal to all tastes. At the same time it has to be professional enough to instill confidence in the visitor, such that they will feel comfortable in making their reservation in deference to the competition – be it on-line, or through a phone call as a result of what they see on the site.
Equally important, is the “visibility” or prominence of the site itself. It has to be promoted aggressively enough such that it appears as an option to be visited whenever a potential guest might try to find lodging information (and more) at a ski resort – both summer and winter. This is an extremely costly and time-consuming exercise, but is necessary to stay ahead of our competition and as such is a vital part of our overall website strategy.
Website Design & Content
In March of 2004, it was determined that our own website was in need of a major overhaul, together with a more aggressive promotional strategy appropriate to this era of internet marketing. The underlying objective is to increase the amount of traffic to our website, and also to ensure our site achieves higher search-engine rankings. This would increase visibility and ultimately, would generate significantly more reservations for the properties that we represent.
We therefore committed significant long-term resources in this regard, and retained the services of industry leaders Blizzard Internet Marketing, Inc, to undertake an initial re-design of the site, and then conduct a continuous, aggressive promotional campaign to increase traffic to our site.
StayWinterPark has undergone several website changes and the latest one was re-launched on August 2016. The visual aspects of the site are considerably more appealing. Through the use of rich photography, attractive color scheme, and flash animation, the intention is to grab the viewer and ensure he or she explores the site further. Through consistent presentation of material, with the emphasis on lodging of course, the viewer will be able to find the information they’re looking for, research it, and hopefully proceed to a booking scenario, either on-line or by phone.
The photographs are changed regularly to keep it fresh, and reflect the winter or summer booking season. We secured the rights to some great action and scenic photographs taken by local photographer, Byron Hetzler, which we believe emphasizes what Winter Park is all about: as an example – for winter – great snow, enabling fantastic skiing and snowboarding, and in one of the most beautiful settings any resort has to offer.
All properties we manage under our condos, town homes, and private homes pages are rotated randomly, so that anyone commencing their review of what we have to offer from the “top down”, would not necessarily start with a complex or unit whose first letter is at or near the start of the alphabet. Blizzard introduced a “property rotation script” to achieve this objective, and moreover has made it “seamless” such that each property is not separated by an unattractive and traditional horizontal bar. We also rotate units within property “type” on the Home Page via our “Featured Properties” showcasing.
Throughout the site are multiple “calls to action”, especially in the form of on-line booking. According to the “J.D. Power & Associates 2004 North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study”, guests who book directly on a hotel chain’s website report significantly higher satisfaction with their stay than those who make reservations through an independent travel site.
The study finds that the number of consumers who booked a hotel reservation online has increased more than 50% over 2003 among those who have Internet access. Our ongoing objective is to capitalize on this trend.
It is one thing to build a new site, a second to market and promote it effectively. “If you build it, they will come” is certainly NOT true in this instance! Together with our marketing partner Blizzard Internet Marketing, we embarked on an extremely aggressive website promotion campaign to increase the “visibility” or prominence of our website, as much as possible. The methods to achieve this are many, varied, and of course costly, but vitally important in bringing traffic to our site, and include the following:
- A holistic approach to search engine optimization, combining efforts to achieve high organic positioning for our targeted keyword phrases, together with an aggressive “pay-per-click” program.
- Extensive advertising with the major on-line ski and lodging websites, including banner advertisements, hyperlinks, etc.
- Significant in-bound links from industry-wide websites, plus paid listings with a multitude of fee-based lodging directories and free listings on many others.
- Special features on e-mail newsletters to our database of e-mail subscribers who have opted in to receive such material. Regular e-mail newsletters are an exceptionally effective, qualified and cost-efficient means of getting our product, specials, packages and “newsworthy” events into the hands of the consumer.
According to available comparable data, user traffic continues to outstrip that of our major competitors. Actual reservations generated as a result of our internet presence continues to climb dramatically, and accounts for an ever-increasing percentage of our total gross sales.
We continue to explore new ways of increasing the visibility of our website through greater promotional and other advertising expenditure. Our focus is to secure our position as the #1 most visited lodging website in the community. Some of the feedback we get is that “we’re everywhere” which is exactly what we want to hear!
Most importantly, we are getting excellent organic (or natural) search engine positioning, across the three main Search Engines (Google, MSN and Bing) for our targeted keyword phrases. According to market research, 85% of people researching a vacation of some sort on the Internet, start with a Search Engine, and then type in a few words into the Search box, on the topic they want more information about. Everyone searches differently, and will use different words, combinations of words, and consequent refinements of their searches during the search process. The objective is to ensure that we appear as high in the “results” as possible, for any combination of key phrases or search terms that people might use.
Our own research and statistical data demonstrates that we are consistently out-performing our local competition for virtually all the most important phrases pertinent to our business and location. We complement these efforts through an aggressive “Pay-per-Click” program, whereby we are charged whatever our bid amount is, for anyone clicking on our website when it shows up in the results for “Sponsored Links”.
The underlying objective is that more people will come to our website if we continue to achieve these high ranking results (page one of the results is good, a top four position on page one is excellent), and thus we stand a better chance of securing their reservation than the competition.
We are very proud of our reports, statistics, and results in our data bank that support the above analysis, perhaps demonstrate some of the techniques we employ, and talk further about our internet marketing strategy if you are interested in learning more about this particular aspect of our operation.
If you would like to learn more about our Winter Park Colorado Rental Management program, we would be very happy to send you our comprehensive Rental Information Pack in the mail to you. We would also welcome the opportunity of talking with you in person. Please feel free fill out our rental management form for more information.