Our approach to marketing starts with understanding the people behind the process
In the digital marketing world, it’s easy to get lost in the numbers. Endless reams of data and code can sometimes obscure the goal behind it all: to connect people. Creating connections is at the core of what we do as travel marketers.
It’s also crucial for working effectively with our clients. The stronger the relationship between our team and a client, the better job we can do for them. And we like to think we’re pretty good at this–after all, we do pride ourselves on not being a-holes!
Client relationships involve more than just rapport: they’re built on understanding a client’s goals, challenges and story and on them understanding our plan, methodology and deliverables. The more we understand each other, the more we can build trust: a key ingredient for any successful collaboration.
In this article, we’ll take a look at three examples of how time spent strengthening client relationships can pave the way for strong results over the long term.
Mirror Lake Inn
Mirror Lake Inn is the epitome of a family-owned business. In fact, it’s only ever been owned by families, as the family who started it sold it to another family who eventually sold it to the Weibrechts.
Owner-operators, The Weibrechts, take pride in being an active part of the on-property experience for their guests and oversee all aspects of the inn’s operations. With so much to do day-to-day on property, they look to Wallop to manage their presence in the digital realm.
Of course, with so much of their time and passion invested in the business, building trust has been especially important for them. They want to make sure we get things right, with the same meticulous attention to detail that they apply to all aspects of their business.
An important means of building this trust with them has involved taking a proactive approach to managing their digital presence. By going the extra mile to look for opportunities and mitigate potential threats, we have been able to demonstrate value and provide peace of mind.
Take for example their management of the pandemic. Like with so many things, Mirror Lake Inn went above and beyond to ensure the safety of their guests by investing significantly into new cleaning equipment. We made the suggestion to publicize this fact more heavily online, to demonstrate value to potential guests and get more pay-off from the investment.
Similarly, we noticed they were using a third-party rate-parity and messaging tool on their website that we suspected might not be performing as well as it should. We took the time to research alternatives and suggested a new approach that ultimately produced better data and much better ROI.
When we heard about Andrew’s history as an Olympic skier and the amazing skiing opportunities near the property, we suggested adding a dedicated skiing page to the website and making efforts to promote the Inn as a destination for skiers–an initiative that continues to attract new guests.
At the end of the day, having an agency partner to proactively grow their digital presence helps relieve them of the burden and allows them to put more of their energy towards the day-to-day operations of their business.
Lord Elgin Hotel
The only major independently-owned hotel in Ottawa, Lord Elgin Hotel is also owned by Ottawa local Jeff Gillin and prides itself on these facts. Community building is an important part of their business philosophy, so it’s important to them that their digital agency fits with this value system.
A great example of the strong sense of community at the hotel is our contact at the property: Ann, their Director of Sales and Marketing and a well known person in the Ottawa travel and tourism community. Ann’s decades-long career at the hotel has been an essential part of developing the property’s reputation and success.
Like so many of our clients, the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for Lord Elgin Hotel, but we were happy to hear that their relationship with Wallop was one of the bright spots in this tough time. By working with Ann to look for creative ways to ease the impact of the pandemic on their business, as well as offering flexible payment terms for our agency fees, we were able to help them weather the storm.
When it was time for the hotel to reopen following the shutdown, we worked together on a successful reopening strategy where they ultimately exceeded their occupancy targets. Because of our history with the property and our deep understanding of their market, we knew exactly how to position their ads and website to get traction right away after they reopened.
Ann has mentioned to us that she gets many emails from other agencies pitching her services, but she remains faithful to the team at Wallop. We couldn’t be happier to hear this: it’s what we strive for with every one of our clients.
There are properties that provide accommodations and there are properties that provide experiences. Miraval is firmly in the latter camp, with resorts that not only offer a wealth of amenities and activities, but also present guests with opportunities for life-changing experiences that can’t be found anywhere else.
With such a unique property, we knew that the best first step in building our working relationship with them would be to fully understand the experience they offer. With that, we sent some key members of our team to visit the property and immerse themselves in the setting.
For our staff members Julie, Laura, Linda and Lena, the experience was nothing short of extraordinary, serving up everything from beekeeping lessons to moonlight meditation to the ‘quantum leap’ exercise (you’ll have to visit and try that last one yourself to understand!).
Julie described a distinct ‘eureka moment’ that each of our team members experienced while visiting Miraval: a sense of “wow, this is what it feels like to truly disconnect.”
Gaining this first-hand understanding of the experience that Miraval is offering has allowed us to more deeply and richly communicate their story in our digital marketing efforts. For us, this is an essential part of building client relationships: taking the time not just to learn about, but to embody what a property is all about.
For Miraval, being on-site helped us better understand, among other things, the way that guests plan and prepare for their visit to the resorts. This understanding helped us build a better set of pre-planning tools to enhance the guest experience and promote more bookings, which we are very excited to launch on their website later this year.
Over the four years we’ve worked with Miraval, we’ve grown to feel like an extension of their business, with trust, understanding and knowledge as the foundation of our relationship. And while we have helped them achieve strong results, they’ve also helped us better understand and learn what it takes to be successful in working with multi-property brands, an example of how client relationships can serve to benefit both sides.
What This Means for You
If you’re searching for an agency partner for your business’s website and digital marketing needs, or looking to strengthen results with your existing agency, we suggest looking not just at the tools and tactics being used, but at the relationship being built between you and the agency.
Take the time to fully communicate your values, working style, priorities and the story behind your property. By helping to foster this understanding on behalf of your agency, they will be able to work more efficiently and effectively to achieve your goals.