To drive more reservations and profit for your resort this year, you need to be able to effectively connect with and nurture travelers who discover your resort online. This year, more people are using the internet to plan their vacations and book travel accommodations than ever before.
Consider the following statistics about the state of travel and the internet:
- 168M travel bookings are made on the internet each year
- 57% of all travel reservations are made on the internet
- 65% of same day hotel reservations are made from a smartphone
When used effectively, the internet can be a fantastic tool for reaching and attracting new travelers to your resort. It can, however, also create challenges. The biggest one most resort owners and managers experience is trying to determine how to best build trust and rapport with potential guests without ever talking to them on the phone or meeting with them face-to-face.
It’s not an easy obstacle to overcome, especially if you’re relatively new to the industry, or if you’re not well-versed in using digital media as a way to get the word out about your resort.
So where do you start? How do you differentiate from other resorts in your area (or anywhere, really) and convince travelers to book reservations with you?
It all comes down to your ability to humanize your online presence. Humanizing your online presence is all about helping the people who find you online understand:
- Who you are and what makes your resort different or special
- What it would look like and feel like to stay at your resort
- Who typically stays at your resort and what their experiences are like
- What you do to create amazing experiences and memories for guests
If you’re looking for more ways to humanize your website, social media channels, and property listings, consider these 8 tips when applicable:
Tip #1: Use Real Photos with Real People
The fastest way to connect with online visitors who come across your resort is to present them with compelling visuals. It’s important to include enough photos of your resort to give potential guests an idea of what to expect were they to visit, but make sure not to come across as too sterile or perfect with the photos you ultimately present.
There’s long been a tradition of including photos of different scenes and locations on your resort with no people, perhaps to create the perception of perfection and cleanliness. But without including actual human beings in your photos, it can be hard for people to imagine themselves at your resort.
To humanize your resort and the personality needed to pique the interest of potential guests, use photos of:
- Guests interacting with staff at check-in
- Guests relaxing or having fun around your resort
- Guests eating meals
- Guests exploring the area and attractions near your resort
Remember: Your goal is to make people feel like they would be comfortable during their stay. Use photos to set expectations from the minute they come across your resort when searching for a place to stay online.
If you don’t want to take photos of guests or ask guests to participate, get your staff to stage photos as if they were guests. It’s still a better option than including stock photos, or photos without people in them at all.
Tip #2: Feature Quotes and Stories from Guests
In addition to photos, you should also be incorporating real quotes and stories from guests into your online channels. Featuring authentic reviews and testimonials from happy guests is one of the fastest ways to build trust with anyone who isn’t yet familiar with your resort and the experience you offer.
You can feature this type of content in a few ways. For example, you can:
- Incorporate a quote into a subheading
- Feature words from guest as a pull-quote or in sidebar
- Create an entire section of top reviews from guests
- Use stories and reviews in promotional videos and photo slideshows
Remember: your goal is to let your past happy guests do the selling for you. Instead of writing lengthy paragraphs about how great you think your resort is, turn your guests into salespeople for your resort. Find reviews that highlight the best features of your resort, tell the best stories, and paint the best picture of the experience you have to offer.
According to research compiled and shared by Search Engine Land, 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. As a resort manager, it’s up to you to control which reviews people are seeing first when they land on your website, property listings, or social media accounts.
Tip #3: Put Your Staff on Video
In addition to wanting to seeing examples of guests staying at your resort, online visitors also want to see examples of the kind of people who work at and run your resort. The most effective way to show potential guest who your staff is and how their work contributes to the uniqueness of your resort is to feature your team members in videos.
Like photography, videography is an incredibly powerful medium that you could be leveraging to build and nurture relationships with the people who are thinking about booking reservations at your resorts.
Most resorts have at one time or another created a virtual tour video or a video slideshow, but few take the time to use video as an opportunity to share stories. To differentiate from other resorts and to show your online visitors that there are actual real, relatable human beings working at your resort, create one or a few videos that introduce or feature your employees. For example, you can create videos that introduce guests to:
- The concierge or front desk employee who knows everything about the local area
- The cooks and servers that they’ll interact with during meals
- The groundskeepers and gardeners who keep your property looking pristine
- The owners/founders of the resort who work everyday to create an unforgettable experience for guests
Remember: your potential guests want to feel comfortable. Use video to connect with them on a more personal, human level.
Tip #4: Use Language That Connects
The language you use online is important, because as mentioned earlier, you don’t have the benefit of being able to have a real-time conversation with most of the people who come looking for more information about your resort. You have to make sure that every word counts. Every word has to be careful chosen and incorporated into your listing in a way that paints the right picture and ultimately nudges people to book a reservation with you.
To craft the right messaging for your resort, leverage tips from these helpful resources:
- Copywriting That Converts How to Sell…Without Selling Your Soul from CopyHackers – a collection of beginner resources that are worth reviewing when you’re building or updating your website and social media about sections.
- 75 Resources for Writing Incredible Copy that Converts from Kissmetrics – another great collection of blog posts and case studies that can help you understand how to leverage words and language to drive more conversions.
- Storytelling That Moves People from Harvard Business Review – an in-depth look at how to craft stories that effectively connect with people and motivate them to act the way you want them to act.
- Tone of Voice 101: How to Write Copy That People Can Connect With from CopyHackers – an actionable guide that can help you understand how to communicate your message once you know what that message is.
Remember: you really only have a few seconds to grab the interest and attention of your online visitors. Use copy to quickly connect, relate, educate, and persuade.
Tip #5: Create Sample Itineraries
If you’re looking for a more unique and creative way to humanize your resort online, try creating sample itineraries that guests can use when traveling to your resort. Think about what a typical stay looks like for most of your guests, and see if you can build out a week’s worth of activities for future guests to take advantage of while they are staying at your resort.
For example, you could create itineraries for people who want:
- A relaxing week of vacation with their spouse or partner
- A week of fun and activities for their entire family (kids included)
- A week of adventure and embracing local businesses
Build itineraries that target the types of guests who typically stay at your resort. Work with a graphic designer to create visually-compelling PDFs for each itinerary that you can link to on your website or as updates on your social media channels. Offer these itineraries to potential guest for free, or in exchange for their email address.
Remember: you’re in the business of selling experiences and memories, not rooms.
Tip #6: Offer a Live Stream
If you have the time, resources, and equipment, another great way to humanize your resort is to offer live video streams that potential guests can tune into when they want to learn more about your resort.
In the past few years, live video has exploded in popularity. According to statistics compiled by Livestream, 80% of people would rather watch live video from a brand than read a blog, and 82% prefer live video from a brand to social posts.
To connect with potential guests and humanize your resort, try sharing live video streams that:
- Display an area of your resort that is regularly populated by a lot of guests
- Highlights a particularly scenic or beautiful area on or near your resort
- Gives potential guests an idea of what the weather is like throughout the year
- Gives potential guests an opportunity to interact with your staff (have them go live on Facebook once a week to answer questions and talk about your resort)
To promote your live stream, simply share a link and some promotional copy somewhere on your website or social media channels.
Remember: Your job is to make it incredibly easy for your potential guests to imagine themselves staying at your resort. Live streams can help break the communication barrier that sometimes exists between resorts and online visitors.
Tip #7: Personalize Based on Season
To show online visitors that you’re available and actively interested in engaging with potential guests, take the time to update and personalize your website, emails, and social media pages based on the seasons.
Personalizing based on seasons doesn’t have to be complicated. You can do it by:
- Updating photos to show what your resort looks like during different times of the year
- Updating body copy in a way that relates to the seasons and connects with visitors
- Changing headlines to align with different seasons in an effort to grab the attention of would-be visitors.
- Showing reviews from recent guests (as in within the past 30-60 days) prominently on your website or listing.
Remember: the more accurate picture you can paint for potential guests, the more likely you’ll be able to effectively build trust and drive visitors toward booking a reservation with you.
Tip #8: Letter from the Owner
The final way to connect with visitors and humanize your online presence is to simply share a letter from the owner or manager of your resort. Share this letter in your email campaigns, in a blog post, or a PDF that you can link visitors to. It doesn’t have to be a long letter—just an authentic, genuine letter from the person in charge explaining why your resort is so special, what kind of service and experiences guests should expect from you, and any other promises or commitments you’d like to make. It’s a simple act, but it can go a long way in building trust and convincing people that your resort is worth visiting.
Remember: your guests want to interact with kind, respectful, helpful people. Show them who you are and how much you value your guests before they even book a reservation with you.
Over to You
Which tip have you already been implementing at your resort? Tell me in the comments below.
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