t has probably already been drilled into your head: Now, more than ever, consumers crave experiences over material things. Since 1987, the amount of money that US consumers have spent on live experiences has increased by 70%, and much of that is led by millennials. In fact, 72% of millennials said they would rather spend their money on experiences than material goods.
This means that hotel brands now have a unique opportunity to connect and make an impactful impression on consumers by capitalizing on this “experience economy.” So, yes, while it’s great to show off a resort’s gorgeous property and unique amenities on a website, in email campaigns, and on social media, it’s just as important to market the destination. And we’ve got just the experiential marketing examples – several of which we’ve written for our clients (just think of us as your friendly experiential marketing agency) – that are quenching consumers’ thirst for fulfillment – and more importantly: driving bookings and visits.
Ideas That Spark Wanderlust
Some travel destinations just get stuck in your head, like the best daydream ever. Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is one of those places for us. With its majestic peaks, breathtaking views, and nonstop activities, it’s one of the top destinations for skiers (and even non-skiers). But a visit there is about more than just the slopes – you’ll find opportunities to snowmobile, dogsled, and even go whitewater rafting in the warm summer months.
The Snow King Resort Hotel, a Benchmark Property, wanted to let its visitors know that their picturesque destination has unlimited adventures on offer, so they worked with Hawthorn Creative to spark some wanderlust. This digital guide offers resort visitors the ultimate look at what Snow King has to offer, both on-property and in the surrounding area. The Adventurist offers adrenaline-pumping adventures, while Flavor Of… highlights the area’s best cuisine. The guide rounds out with a locals guide, a weekend itinerary suggestion, and even a digital map that pinpoints every one of the guide’s recommendations, giving visitors everything they need to craft an action-packed trip to the Grand Tetons.
Destination-Focused Email Campaigns
Scattered up and down the Eastern Seaboard from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Key West, Florida, Opal Collection comprises 26 luxury waterside resort properties and recognizes the need to capitalize on their respective resort destination experiences. And that they do: not just with a custom blog site we built for them – Opal Unpacked (for which we still manage copy, imagery sourcing and selection, and content loading) but by pushing out those various valuable pieces of destination content marketing in the form of three email campaign types.
The first is an “Opal-wide” campaign, which delivers monthly to blog subscribers and past resort guests to share a hand-selected assortment of content that cross-promotes the different resort destinations. The second is a “property-specific” campaign, sent out twice a year to past guests for each of the 26 properties, which pushes out content about new happenings, attractions, and ways to maximize their time during an upcoming visit. And, lastly, the “pre-arrival” campaigns. Scheduled to fire within a week of guests’ booked visits, the campaign utilizes content that serves as inspiration for how to truly take advantage of their upcoming vacation. In a nutshell, it’s a strategy that positions Opal Collection as the utmost expert on how to best experience the destinations.
Encircled by the famous Topa Topa mountain range in Southern California’s upscale bohemian village of Ojai, the 220-acre Ojai Valley Inn is quite the destination in itself, offering cooking classes with celeb chefs, beekeeping and honey tastings, horseback riding, yoga, golf – the list goes on. To help guests best take advantage of the dizzying array of activities offered on-site and beyond, in 2017 the resort unveiled its Discover Ojai Center, a one-stop vacation planning hub located on the grounds. Here, guests work with “experience planners” who provide hands-on immediate planning. But it’s not merely limited to folks already on-site – a comprehensive digital version of the center also lives on the resort’s website, giving potential consumers a peek at all that is at their fingertips. For those who eventually book, an experience planner works with guests prior to arrival to help create custom itineraries and make any necessary activity reservations. The result is a finely tuned visit, where the best of the valley is tailored to each guest’s individual taste.
Having been recently restored to its original 1920s art deco grandeur with palazzo-inspired architecture, lofty chandeliers, an upscale restaurant, and a lavish spa, Hotel Saranac is something of the marquee hotel in downtown Saranac Lake, New York. But another draw to this property that it wisely capitalizes on? The fact that it’s located in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains and uniquely positioned to take advantage of all the iconic attractions that call this place home: 46 famous 4,000-foot peaks, all located within an hour’s drive; the neighboring Olympic village of Lake Placid; and scores of arts, culture, and gastronomic gems.
Enter Field Guide, a trusted local resource written and built by Hawthorn Creative that lives on the hotel’s property website to showcase all there is to do in the destination. Divided into four separate categories (Adventure, Explore, Drink & Dine, and Unwind), the guide is easily navigable based on interests, and, once a user clicks into a category, showcases an array of locally vetted activities, highlights, and reasons to visit paired with punchy copy and engaging web design. The benefit to the client is twofold: If a potential guest is googling “things to do in the Adirondacks,” Hotel Saranac is in a prime position to populate and deliver that info – and that, my friend, leads to conversion. Additionally, if someone is considering booking the hotel, but isn’t quite sold yet, this type of things-to-do content often helps tip the scale so they feel confident that they’re not just booking a hotel, they’re booking an experience.
Destination Content Integrated on Landing Page
Surrounded by more than 5,000 acres of countryside and forested areas in Amenia, New York, the newly renovated Troutbeck offers upscale lodging in an eighteenth-century estate where Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson all once stayed. But rather than focus exclusively on this Hudson Valley hideaway’s historic, low-key, and luxurious accommodations on the hotel’s landing page, it integrates experiential content in the form of clickable tiles that showcase the local hiking, skiing, fishing, and horseback-riding scenes, among others. The message? That Troutbeck is an estate for an escape with all the activities an outdoor enthusiast could ask for, just two hours north of New York City.