19 May Project Profile: Opal Collection Pre-Arrival Email

The hotel email marketing campaign we deployed for Opal Collection makes sure future guests have great stays — and book ancillary revenue.

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Creating content is only half the game; it’s then a question of how you distribute it to get eyes on it. We’ve worked with Opal Collection for three years, producing ongoing content for Opal Unpacked, the destination blog site we manage for them. That’s a lot of content. So we helped Opal Collection put it to use in a new set of pre-arrival hotel email marketing campaigns launching in June, tailored to each of its resorts with content that was originally published on the destination blog site. Guests receive a single email a week before their arrival with three stories covering things to do on and off the resort.

The Client

Opal Collection, the luxury segment of parent company Ocean Properties and a Hawthorn client since late 2005, is known for its 16 elite, luxurious properties located across three East Coast states – Florida, Maine, and New York. These are incredibly prime properties, all set directly on the water (either Atlantic, Gulf, or Adirondack lakes), such as The Sagamore and Lake Placid Lodge in the Adirondacks, Harborside Hotel, Spa & Marina in Bar Harbor, Maine, and a necklace of top Florida beach resorts running up and down both sides of the Florida peninsula. Despite the resorts’ reputation and wide appeal, our client knows leisure travelers often pick the destination first, hotel second so Opal builds brand loyalty and cross-promotional chops through an integrated marketing campaign anchored by the destination blog site and then powered by social media management and a multi-pronged email campaign strategy.

The Project

This isn’t the first hotel email marketing campaign Hawthorn has produced for Opal Collection. We build a monthly Opal-wide campaign to a collection-wide send list, individual property campaigns, and a thread of special groups campaigns – all of which interweave content from Opal Unpacked with strategic packages, promotions, and other conversion-centered CTAs.

The pre-arrival campaigns built for each resort have four primary objectives:

  • Help ensure booked guests have great stays with useful trip recommendations
  • Put the content that we’ve already created to work
  • Build brand loyalty and foster positive online reviews and word-of-mouth
  • Drive ancillary revenue (think: spa, restaurants, on-property programming).

Topics tend to be evergreen and useful for those who are in that pending-trip stage, such as “The Family Reunion Guide to Bar Harbor” or “8 Things Your Kids Will Love About Lake Placid.”

To be sure, this is a lot of content since 16 resorts multiplied by three pieces of unique content each means we’ve pulled 48 unique pieces of content together – of course, for just one hotel, it would be possible with just three pieces of the right content. But the beauty for Opal isn’t just in the four objectives that this pre-arrival campaign delivers on, but that once they’re built, they can run as automated drip campaigns without needing to be touched. (We’ll swap one out come wintertime for the northern destinations in New York and Maine; otherwise, we expect that the content will be fresh for at least several months.)

Our Take

Email may be the less buzzy older cousin of social, but it remains a massive driver of business. Without revealing exact numbers, the role of email as a part of this client’s content strategy with us has grown significantly each year of the project because the results speak for themselves. Put simply: For hotel management companies and single-property hotels investing in content marketing with us, email is the singlemost important part of the distribution strategy to ensure ROI.

Last Thought

Yes, planting the seed for guests to book spa appointments or rounds of golf before they arrive is central to this pre-arrival strategy, but in this hotel digital marketing space, you can never overlook the power of reviews. And that’s a core function of this campaign and our other on-resort content work, such as in-room custom magazines. Give guests all the best information and entertaining insight into the hotel and destination to make sure they have an amazing stay, shout about it on social media and in online reviews, and turn into local repeat bookings.