How Port Royal Got $431,000 in Direct Revenue in Just 6 Months
What do barbecues and online marketing have in common? More than you would think. We at Booking Boost would never have expected to use the two terms in the same sentence. But as it turns out, barbecues are actually a great analogy for online marketing. We saw this first hand while working with a hotel in Texas, America’s barbecue capital.
That hotel, the Port Royal Ocean Resort, first came to us in February of 2015. Like any hotel, they were looking for a booking boost. But the folks at Port Royal didn’t just want more guests. They wanted to get guests the right way.
The right way?
Yes, as opposed to the wrong way. See it’s not enough to just have a steady stream of guests coming in. That may be hard to believe, but just hear us out. Often, a hotel may be getting guests, yet doing so in a way that has fundamental flaws. The mechanics of guest acquisition are “broken”, in other words, and the hotel doesn’t notice because guests are still coming in. The stream of guests masks the broken mechanics. So a hotel continues doing what they think works, while actually earning far less than they could.
Fortunately, the Port Royal Ocean Resort understood this idea. Although they had guests flowing in, the resort sensed that part of their acquisition process was broken. With a bit of digging, the owners realized that they were paying substantial fees to online travel agents (OTAs). Naturally, the OTAs were helping Port Royal to get bookings. No bait and switch there. But the resort’s owners questioned whether the high OTA fees were really justified. They wondered whether it would be possible to get the same or better results by handling online advertising themselves, without an OTA.
To test this hypothesis, Port Royal’s owners turned to BookingBoost. They knew that we specialize in online advertising, helping hotels to earn more and pay OTAs less. Our specialty sounded great to the resort’s owners and they were inclined to work with us.
The owners’ only hesitation was over the fact that their resort had never done any of its own online advertising. Prior to this point, other groups – namely the OTAs – had handled the resort’s online ads. This change seemed like a bit of a risk to the resort’s owners. They knew we (Booking Boost) have a strong track record. But still, what if things didn’t work out?
That was a possibility, no doubt. But Port Royal’s owners also understood that they could potentially earn more – far more – by handling online ads via Booking Boost. Depending on how things worked out with Booking Boost, the resort could find a new, more profitable system for guest acquisition. And we weren’t asking them to completely abandon the OTAs. At least not initially.
Knowing all this, the Resort decided to enlist Booking Boost’s help. We couldn’t have been happier for the opportunity. Especially since it meant we could finally visit the Lone Star State and taste some authentic Texas barbecued beef.
Speaking of barbecuing, it’s time for that analogy we mentioned earlier. Having now had our fill of Texas’s signature dish, we can say that the analogy works just fine.
Like a chef preparing for a Texas barbecue, we began our work with the Port Royal Ocean Resort by gathering the right “ingredients”. In place of food, we looked for information. Our goal was to find out what made the resort great. Why should someone choose the Port Royal Ocean Resort over another luxury resort? Did the Port Royal have any unique features or promotions that made it an obvious choice for a vacation? If so, we wanted to know.
Through extensive research, we eventually developed a strong list of selling points for the resort. Our efforts here were not unlike a master chef who scours relentlessly for the perfect foods. The chef, skilled as they might be, understands the importance of cooking with the absolute best ingredients they can find. A chef could skimp on the ingredients, perhaps using lower-quality beef – in the case of Texas barbecue – but the results aren’t going to come out nearly as tasty. The best chefs don’t take shortcuts like that. And neither does Booking Boost.
Once we’d gathered our “ingredients”, it was time to start cooking. Our first step was to write ads. We crafted the ads using all of the juicy morsels we’d scrounged up during the research phase. If a selling point that we’d found seemed like it would be “tasty” to online audiences, we threw it in the mix. Admittedly, we got our hands “dirty” writing the Port Royal’s ads. But then, cooking up Texas barbecue is equally dirty business. The only difference is that in the barbecue’s case, you can clean things up a bit by licking the sauce off spoons and bowls. Working with Google AdWords, the only thing we could “lick” was the competition.
And, from a results-standpoint, it looks like we did.
Our ads began to prove themselves on the basis of their click-through rate (CTR). Looking at this metric, we found that 16-20% of the people that searched for the Port Royal Ocean Resort ended up clicking on the resort’s own ads. This stat meant that our ads were already getting a significant amount of the traffic that might otherwise have gone to the OTAs. With our ability to get traffic, we proved that the Port Royal Ocean Resort could succeeded in doing its own online advertising.
It was a promising start. But as the results continued to roll in, we saw that CTR was just the beginning. Over the span of six months, our ads brought in 306 bookings for the hotel, earning them approximately $431,671 in direct revenue.
These figures aren’t just guesses either. Since we were using Google AdWords for the ads, we knew when someone clicked on the ad. Tracking like that is what makes AdWords so great. And with respect to the bookings and income, we could be equally certain on this too. Our certainty here came from having worked carefully with the Port Royal Resort to set up back-end tracking. This tracking allowed us to match our ads to bookings.
Beyond bookings and revenue, our work for the Port Royal Ocean Resort can also be considered a success because of what it didn’t do. We were able to bring in over $431,000 in revenue for the resort without creating much additional work for its owners. The owners could continue to focus on their own tasks, while we handled the ads.
The only major area where we needed help was setting up tracking of back-end conversions. Once we’d set this up, however, the Port Royal’s owners were free to go back to their business. We’d still be there, working independently, and checking in every so often with reports showing how much money the resort had earned.
As we enter this year, 2016, we’re pleased to continue working with the Port Royal Ocean Resort. At the time of this writing, we’re focused on picking up more off-season bookings by promoting special winter offers. Unlike OTAs, we can promote these kinds of offers because our ads are personalized to an individual resort. Also, as summer gets closer, we’ll expand our efforts to collect even more direct bookings for the resort during its busy 2016 summer season.
As you can see, we’re “cooking” up a lot for the Port Royal Ocean Resort. But, like any good chef, we don’t want anyone to go hungry. So if your resort or hotel is “hungry” for guests, let us know. We’d love to “cook” up some new bookings for you. Contact us today for a free consultation call or send us an email.