The Castle Leslie Estate lies on 1,000 acres of rolling parkland in County Monaghan, where guests can spend hours ambling between ancient trees and lakes and admiring the local wildlife. One of only a handful of Irish estates and castles still home to its founding family, the stunning property has a thousand years of recorded history.
In the past 25 years, this stunning property has gone through several refurbishments, having started off as a tea-rooms and grown into a hotel as business picked up. As the digital revolution came about, there was an increasing need for Castle Leslie to raise awareness of their brand online and to optimise their digital channels to attract the business they deserve. So the heritage hotel partnered with Avvio eight years ago as a way to grow their brand’s online presence and their direct booking revenue.
Olivia Cannon, Head of Marketing at Castle Leslie, who has worked closely with Limerick-based Avvio since joining the hotel in 2009, reveals: “We’ve grown hand in hand with Avvio for our online room sales and I would say this has grown tenfold in eight years. Since we’re a small property with essentially 49 hotel bedrooms, that’s quite a big difference!”
Castle Leslie Estate drives their direct bookings in three key ways: through an optimised web design, enhanced digital marketing services and key features, such as exclusive discounts through the use of promo codes, strike-through pricing and dynamic room substitution from the booking engine. The advanced Insight reporting module allows the teams at Avvio and the hotel to keep abreast of trends and understand the key drivers.
Avvio and the Castle Leslie worked together closely to create a website optimised for direct conversion. Showcasing the property’s extensive grounds and stunning countryside surroundings of fresh-water lakes and flower-bespeckled hills, the website highlights the property’s unique heritage with old-style font and a natural colour palette of greens and browns.
With the booking option immediately identifiable and package recommendations showcased below, the website is visually appealing straight away, true to brand and seamless to navigate. Castle Leslie has superb facilities and offers an excellent choice to guests. The website design reflects this by promoting different aspects of the property through the use of microsites.
Discount and promotions
Along with their suggested summer and Equestrian holiday packages displayed on the Castle Leslie Estate website and booking engine, the hotel makes great use of Avvio’s discount and promotions functionality. This enables them to set up special offers either for a specific guest or group via a promo code, or for all potential guests for specific rooms, rates and packages for an allocated time frame.
To celebrate the hotel’s 25th anniversary, for example, the Castle Leslie displayed a special offer on the homepage of their website throughout the month of May, which offered €25 credit to spend in the hotel and a free bottle of bubbly when they made a direct booking. They also sent this special offer to the 65,000 people on their mailing list on the morning of their anniversary to mark the day they celebrated turning a quarter of a century. Needless to say, Castle Leslie, like most organisations now, relies heavily on digital techniques to communicate with their guests and bookers.
Olivia explains, “Digitalisation has drastically changed the way we do business. Less than a decade ago we did maybe ten per cent of our business online and now this has tripled. It also allows you to get a message out very quickly – whether that’s via social media or email, or whether it’s a special offer that you put on the homepage of your website, it’s instant and it’s totally measurable, which is why we love it. If I have an ad, whether that’s a retargeting, an e-zine campaign or a sponsored Facebook post, I can track that down to the last second and how much traffic and revenue it generated and I can also track our repeat guests. So I just love the whole instant transparency of digital.”
A fan of analytics and proof their hard work is paying off, Olivia has opted for Avvio’s daily reports to review the property’s direct bookings.
Olivia explains, “We make 100% use of Avvio Insights. We literally have the Avvio report for breakfast every morning, as well as the weekly and monthly ones. We watch the reports like a hawk because they’re really indicative of trends. What’s happening online is generally what’s happening with our phone bookings as well. That way we can see if we have an issue with UK bookings, or if we see a surge in US bookings, or if our room sales have risen or dropped since this time last year, we can look into why this is. For example, it might be because the price is too high, or too low, or it might be because we don’t have availability, and then we can improve from there. We love the reports and they really help us dictate how we sell our hotel on a day to day basis across the whole estate.”
Looking to the future
The Castle Leslie Estate is always poised to transform and develop their business further and the team have several projects in the pipeline, including restoration of the formal walled garden. The hotel also aspires to add more rooms to the property. With a 90% occupancy all year round and 99.9% occupancy during the summer months, the demand is certainly there.
And that’s not all. Castle Leslie also has plans to update and refresh their digital strategies to ensure they keep at the forefront of the hotel industry and constantly improve their direct booking revenue.
Olivia says, “I’m looking to do a revamp of the website next year, and we’ll continue to invest in digital and finding new ways to communicate with our customers on a monthly basis. We’ll continue to invest in social media like we always do, and of course, we’ll continue to work with Avvio as we grow!”
Here at Avvio, we’re delighted to be part of Castle Leslie’s journey and to reflect the iconic brand through all online and digital channels to give the hotel the direct revenue growth they deserve. For more information on how we can help you improve your direct booking revenue, and your digital marketing strategies, please get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @AvvioDirect and to learn how the Manorview Hotels group has worked with us to improve efficiency and direct booking revenue, see this success story.