How Diamond Coast Hotel found their independence by following the crowd
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With a 30% rise in direct revenue year-to-date, the Diamond Coast Hotel in Ireland feels anything but sheepish.
The four-star hotel lies in the picturesque seaside village of Enniscrone and comprises of 95 spacious and stylish rooms that overlook Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way. Diamond Coast broke away from their previous hotel group to become independent in March 2016. They partnered with Avvio, Europe’s leading booking engine, to build a digital presence of their own, rather than relying on the group.
Tomas Lynn, Marketing Manager of the Diamond Coast, explains: “Having been part of a large hotel group, with the significant resources of a central office and a digital marketing team at our disposal, I was a little anxious when we went out on our own as an independent hotel as we count on our strong digital presence for returns.”
The Diamond Coast Hotel team needed a way to break away from the group and establish themselves as an independent brand. They needed to showcase their property’s unique assets and attract guests to their website to book direct, so that they could stand out from competition and save on online travel agency (OTA) commission fees. That’s when they decided to partner with Avvio, whose team of digital experts and key conversion specialists have helped them build a strong digital presence and drive direct bookings through Europe’s leading booking engine.
Tomas continues, “We partnered with Avvio chiefly because of their expertise in digital strategy and booking engine technology, but also because of the close working relationship we have. The regular updates and reports they provide help to ensure our strategy is always optimised and performing well. We’ve continued to grow with them due to their expertise across a number of key areas for us.”
Before becoming independent, the Diamond Coast Hotel had followed what the rest of the hotel group was doing. They didn’t have the freedom or the capacity to think strategically and play to their own strengths. It came as quite a surprise when the Avvio team suggested the hotel should implement an aggressive digital campaign.
Tomas summarises, “Working closely with Avvio gave us freedom to explore new options and revolutionised our ‘Book Direct’ campaign. Our previous campaign was merely a ‘tick box’ exercise, but after having a long conversation with the Avvio team, they suggested that the campaign should be aggressive and offer to beat the OTA price by €10 across the board. The team here came up with our ‘Follow the Crowd’ sheep imagery in an effort to stand out from our competitors and the generic images of previous campaigns.
“The campaign was a major success and led to a 30% rise in our overall revenue and a 23% increase in direct bookings via our ‘Book Direct & Save’ rate. This has saved us tens of thousands in commissions that we can now reinvest in our digital campaigns.”
The Diamond Coast Hotel has created banners with the bold title “Always €10 Cheaper” that show cartoon sheep on a beach following a signpost to the hotel’s URL. They display these on the hotel’s homepage and at each stage of the booking journey to assure potential guests as they interact with the direct booking engine that they’re getting the best deal.
This isn’t the only digital strategy the hotel has executed with Avvio. Tomas and his team work closely with Steve, their Digital Strategy Manager at Avvio, to continuously improve their search engine optimisation (SEO) and pay per click (PPC) campaigns and ensure their website stays at the top of Google search results.
Tomas says, “Steve, our Digital Strategy Manager, has introduced some great ideas on the digital side for our PPC campaigns and for improving SEO on the website. The Avvio team are constantly keeping us up to date with the latest trends and best practices both in the hotel industry and in digital marketing, offering ideas and suggestions on how we can stay ahead of our competition.”
Close working relationship
A key reason why Avvio knows how to showcase the unique brand so effectively is because of their close working relationship. Julie-Anne, the Diamond Coast’s Key Conversions Manager and Brian Mullane, their previous Digital Strategist from Avvio, travelled to the hotel to meet the team in person when they took over the account and they keep in regular contact, with Julie-Anne and Brian monitoring their performance and sending regular reports, updates and guidance on how to constantly optimise their digital strategy.
Tomas explains, “Julie-Anne met with us face to face and has continued to work tirelessly to ensure that our website and booking engine are performing well. We look forward to our monthly calls, where she breaks down the reports in detail and highlights any potential areas of weakness and/or opportunities for improvement. We’re so happy with our partnership that we’ve even named a sheep from our campaign after Julie-Anne!”
The team at Avvio loves working with the Diamond Coast Hotel and has been delighted to help them find and showcase their unique identity as an independent property.
Julie- Anne says, "I really enjoy working with Tomas, La-Verne and the team at the Diamond Coast, they are a pleasure to deal with. When I first went out to see them, I made sure I understood exactly what their goals were and how they wanted their newly independent brand to be seen by travellers. It's always a pleasure updating Tomas & La-Verne, their reservations manager, on their direct bookings success and strategising how to improve their performance further. Our regular contact also means that the Avvio team can keep them updated on all the latest initiatives we're rolling out to keep our booking engine at the cutting edge and to ensure the Diamond Coast's bookings are at the best they can be."
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