IABC Portfolio Hilltop House B&B


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Dramatically improve bookings year round positioning Hilltop House as a five star inn located in the Hudson Valley.
Generate bookings online capitalizing on consumers embracing online reservations and the growing acceptance of making purchases

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IABC Portfolio Hilltop House B&B

  1. 1. Andrew Ciccone, IABC Portfolio | 1Table of ContentsIntroduction, Hudson Valley Media Page 1Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast Background, Objective, Strategy, Timing, Budget 2 Target Audience, Psychographic Profile 3 Media Plan 3, 4 Tactics 4 Metrics 4, 5 Assessment 6Exhibits 7, 8INTRODUCTIONHudson Valley MediaHudson Valley Media (HVM) is a burgeoning media firm offering market research and integratedmarketing strategies that build brand equity. As CEO, my extensive advertising experience withpackaged goods is applied to serve clients’ marketing needs. Expertise in research developed frommy graduate work is drawn upon to develop sound media strategies. HVM often contracts outindependent freelance agents who live and work in the Metro New York area.Mobile technology and global market forces are re-shaping traditional boundaries. As the barriers arebroken, demographics are changing. Transparency and social integration are impacting howorganizations communicate internally and externally.Hudson Valley Media emphasizes the value of research, strategic media planning and smart tactics tohelp meet and exceed client goals. Social media, print, video, podcasts, traditional media and amultitude of channels are utilized to develop targeted, optimized, memorable campaigns, excitingevents and lasting relationships with stakeholders. Expectations must be clearly defined, campaignsconstantly monitored and measured. We listen to what people are saying, we respond quickly tointernal and external crises. We do not react.
  2. 2. Andrew Ciccone, IABC Portfolio | 2HILLTOP HOUSE BED & BREAKFASTBackgroundHilltop House Bed & Breakfast is a true historic inn that has been in operation for over thirty years,located in the Berkshires. The inn is situated in the Harlem Valley atop a hill, thus the name. Thisrambling asymmetrical shingle style home was built in 1909.The bed and breakfast was sold in late November 2009 to West and Sandy Johnson who moved up tothe country from Brooklyn. Sandy runs the bed and breakfast and makes all business decisions.Sandy relies on my marketing expertise and trusts my professional assessments on media. I have anexcellent working relationship with my client, it’s an absolute pleasure to help Sandy realize herbusiness goals.Critical Points • The immediacy and ease of booking online is a feature that many competitors in the bed and breakfast category do not offer. Online reservation systems are radically changing the way people plan their vacations. • Hotel bookings over the past few years continue to increase through the internet. And now mobile bookings are beginning to take off as consumer’s embrace the internet, social media and ecommerce mobile technologies. Source: Benson, P. (April 4,2011) . Reservation System: Latest Trends in Reservation Systems. http://www.hotel- industry.co.uk/2011/04/reservation-system/ • The internet a critical medium for the travel industry. ComScore Research predicts one third of global travel will be booked online by 2012. Source: Kooistra, T. (June 10, 2011). Travel Analytics: comScore Tips and Tricks to maximize online customer value. comScore 2011, eCommerce eTravel Report. • Hilltop House rates are comparable with nearby hotels and inn, therefore the bed and breakfast does not advertise price promotions. Incentives are offered on a case-by-case basis given any week’s room vacancies and profitability goals. • The prior owners did not aggressively market the inn, this created an opportunity to define and improve the market strategy.ObjectiveDramatically improve bookings year round positioning Hilltop House as a five star inn located in theHudson Valley.StrategyGenerate bookings online capitalizing on consumers embracing online reservations and the growingacceptance of making purchases over the internet. Traditional media is integrated into the media planon an opportunistic basis.TimingThe hospitality industry generates significant revenue from holidays and special occasions. Ongoingseasonal promotions are an important element of the overall market strategy. Late fourth and earlyfirst quarter are historically slow months for the bed and breakfast. In order to attain year roundbookings, additional market support is needed to improve business.BudgetHilltop House room rates vary from $175 to $275 with five rooms available year round. In order todeliver value the annual marketing budget is $10,000 for a three year campaign. This budget isappropriate and will be phased down as the occupancy becomes self sustaining.
  3. 3. Andrew Ciccone, IABC Portfolio | 3Target Audience 1. Proprietary data indicates that rooms are booked predominantly by the women. The target audience is W25-54 with a HH Income of $250,000+. The Metro Tri-State Region and New England area are the primary geo-targets. Gender & Age Breakdown Source: HubSpot, Facebook and TripAdvisor Analytics. 18 - 24 25 - 34 35 - 44 45 - 54 55+ % % % % % Male - 9.1 3.6 8.2 7.3 28% Female 6.4 15.0 12.0 23.0 12.0 68% 2. A secondary audience of W25-40 with a college degree or higher are targeted given the market potential of romantic getaways. The median age for first marriages is 28 for men and 26 for women. Most marriages are susceptible to divorce within the first five years. About half of all marriages last. Of those that fail, marriages last on average eight years. The median age of those who remarry are in their mid-thirties. Source: (May, 2011). Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 2009 Household Economic Studies. US Census. http://www.census.gov/prod/2011pubs/p70-125.pdf.Psychographic ProfileHilltop House is located 10 miles from Sharon, Connecticut and 20 miles from Great Barrington.People who frequent this area are interested in activities that involve horseback riding, equestrianevents and outdoor gaming. Guests at the inn typically vacation without their children.Brand Loyalty is achieved by a rewards program targeted at frequent visitors to the valley who mayalso be business travelers.Media PlanAn integrated campaign using social media, direct mail, email marketing, SEO and link building drivemarketing efforts. Traditional media is used opportunistically given budget constraints based onprofitability. The social media plan is comprised of blogs, micro-blogging and link building to driveawareness and sales.A new website with an online reservation system (1) and a Facebook Business Page were developed tosupport the social media campaign. The website, Facebook page, marketing materials and eventpromotions all needed to actionable by the time renovations to the inn where completed.SEO optimization and link building play an important role in providing prominent visibility for onlinesearches for accommodations and planned vacations.To improve the website’s page ranking: • Additional domain names were acquired to improve the overall online presence. • Keywords researched and integrated into the website. • Third party reservation agents are used to aide in booking rooms during the slow months of the season.
  4. 4. Andrew Ciccone, IABC Portfolio | 4Content created from the (blog page) is micro-blogged via social media sites (Facebook, Twitter andLinkedIn) to generate: • new fans; • build relationships (cross promotions); • and convert leads into reservations.Pages and links to local business are constantly developed to build relationships with businesses thatsupport tourism and hospitality.Ongoing special events planned for maximum exposure with the business community and media. Abrochures and rack card were designed for events, marketing promotions and offered at local supportservices.TacticsA grand opening gala was staged after the renovations had been completed in early May of 2010. Theevent was developed to generate awareness within the local business community, travel industryinsiders and the media. o Grand Opening May, 2010 Direct Mail Post Card (2), Press Release (3), eBlast, Brochure (4), Social Media.Several “free download” incentives are integrated into the website to capture leads. o The Outdoor Guide (5) provides details on summer outdoor activities nearby Hilltop House. o Hilltop’s Winter Guide (5) lists many snow sport destinations in the area.Optimized blog pages were added to build relationships with like minded businesses. o The Berkshires blog (5) creates content about events and local businesses that are destinations near the inn. o A Intimate Getaway (6) page lists several settings and support services for those interested in having a romantic weekend or wedding. o Support services such as a private massage therapist (6) and a makeup artist have links and pages on the Intimate Getaway page to cross promote their offerings.Joint mixer with local Chamber of Commerce April, 2011 Social Media, Chamber Newsletter, eBlast,Brochure.Print ad campaign in April, May and June 2011 in Resident Magazine (7). The publication isdistributed in Manhattan with editorial devoted to travel and profiles of successful New Yorker’s. Thetarget audience is affluent and considered appropriate for Hilltop House. Opportunities that areconsistent with the inn’s strategy are evaluated based on profitability and media value.MetricsCustomer engagement and campaign effectiveness are evaluated based on data from HubSpot,Facebook and TripAdvisor. Insights from inquires and reviews are applied to ongoing promotionalefforts from the data obtained from the reservation system and website analytics. Industry trends arecontinually evaluated as are innovative ways of marketing.
  5. 5. Andrew Ciccone, IABC Portfolio | 5 Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast Guests Booked Versus Year Ago 2010 2011 Index January - 13 - February - 17 - March - 2 - April 3 34 1133 May 10 47 470 June 24 53 220.8 July 21 65 309.5 August 22 53 240.9 September 20 22 * October 49 17 * November 10 - December 4Insights & Next StepsThe website redesign and launch of Hilltop’s marketing plan did not begin until May 2010. Actualstays have increased significantly from the 2010, as has reservations from the prior owners.Cross promotional programs are being developed to increase fall and winter business. Facebook isbeing used to build Hilltop’s fan base by promoting a free stays with other local destinations. Valuableleads will be obtained from these promotions. TripAdvisor Area Bed & Breakfast Reviews Proximity Reviews Rating (miles) (#) (%) Hilltop House - 34 97 Starbuck Inn 9.5 41 92 Cornwall Inn 10.9 13 75TripAdvisor Insights & Next StepsThere are three other bed and breakfasts within a 30 mile radius, however given their limited samplesize the data was not reported. Directionally the guest reviews about Hilltop House thus far areexcellent. Ongoing promotions target these leads for repeat visits marketing loyalty incentives.
  6. 6. Andrew Ciccone, IABC Portfolio | 6AssessmentSeveral articles have been written as a result of the ongoing public relations efforts:• Daniels, L. The Lost Art of the Bed & Breakfast Resurfaces in Upstate New York. Westchester Herald, August 14, 2010. (8)• Leba, J., Levine, D., Olear, G., Sparling, P. Peace and quiet: Hiding out in northeastern Dutchess County. Hudson Valley Magazine | Fall Getaways 2010. August 17, 2010. (9)• Cline, E. The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan-. New York Magazine | Travel. October 1, 2010. (10)The value of the stories written about Hilltop House can be measured based on circulation andreaders per copy. No correlation to sales was identified, but there is certainly indirect media value.Realistically, other variables must be considered: • The placement and importance of the article placement. • Additional or incremental sales directly attributed to the stories.The print campaign with Resident Magazine was a disappointment. Hilltop House queries all guestshow they heard about the inn. There have been no reservations attributed to the ads that ran from thethree months of advertising. The editorial adjacencies and placement in the publication werefavorable. The editorial staff at the magazine felt the bed and breakfast ad was interesting andconsistent with their readership. The magazine’s production depart failed to remedy a typo found inthe first insertion prior to going to print. An additional insertion ran to compensate for the error. Adrecall was nonexistent, consequently the contract was not renewed.Hilltop House’s strategy is sound, threats and opportunities continue to be assessed. The first yearhas been very successful, reservations continue to improve from the year prior. SEO, blogging andlink building powered by social media continue to drive sales.
  7. 7. Andrew Ciccone, IABC Portfolio | 7Exhibits (1) Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast Website, http://hilltophousebb.com The primary objective of the website is to convey a clean open air feeling. The blue header is sky-like with an Edwardian style font for an old world feel. Ease of navigation was also a goal. The tabs are whenever appropriate keywords to help with page ranking. Pages link back to each other to move the potential guest to book a room with our online reservation system. A mobile site was also created, mobile marketing is projected to be embraced rapidly over the next few years. (2) Tulip Post Card The simplicity of the design was create a visual that would be placed on a mantle or refrigerator as a reminder of the grand opening.. Hilltop House uses “pure and simple” as a tagline which is subtly messaged in the tulip visual for this post card. A spring poem was also used to conger thoughts of spring. The direct mailing went out to prior guests who have stayed at the inn as well as the greater Dutchess County community and media. The mailings were sent out three weeks prior to the event followed by an email, then reminders sent out via social media over Facebook. (3) Hilltop House Grand Opening Press Release The release’s primary goal was to generate awareness about recent renovations to the inn and that it is “private, intimate and elegant”. The release was distributed primarily to the travel magazines and local newspapers in Dutchess County. (4) Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast, Three-fold Brochure The brochure aides in ongoing marketing promotions and is distributed at nearby local attractions to generate awareness and reservations. Local destinations, select photos of the interior and a brief narrative of the inn congers the feeling of a historic, romantic bed and breakfast. (5) Berkshires, Blog Page http://www.hilltophousebb.com/berkshires-/ Blogs are micro-blogged, posted and shared via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. Fans and page ranking are the primary goal. Cross promotional partners and articles are picked up from the additional exposure from blogging. (6) Hilltop House Intimate Getaway Page http://www.hilltophousebb.com/our-blog/special-packages/intimate-getaway-/ Romantic getaways is an area that Hilltop House plans on generating significant revenue from. This past summer we participated in a wedding event at a local winery to network with support services for weddings. As a result a cross promotional page was developed with a local massage therapist and makeup artist to attract this market. (7) Resident Magazine, NYC (Print and Digital Media Campaign) http://resident.com/ Occasionally I present media opportunities to clients that I feel are on strategy and deliver real value. This magazine’s editorial has considerable travel features, perfect to reach our target audience based in the Metro New York area.
  8. 8. Andrew Ciccone, IABC Portfolio | 8Several articles were written as a result of ongoing publicity effort for Hilltop House Bed & Breakfast: (8) The Lost Art of the Bed & Breakfast Resurfaces in Upstate New York, (8/14/2010). Westchester Herald. http://whytmedia.typepad.com/westchester_herald/2010/08/the-lost-art-of-the-bed-breakfast- revival-resurfaces-in-upstate-new-york-by-lee-daniels.html#more%C3%A2%E2%82%AC%C2%8F (9) Peace and quiet, Hiding out in northeastern Dutchess County. (September, 2010). Hudson Valley Magazine http://www.hvmag.com/Hudson-Valley-Magazine/September-2010/Fall-Getaways- 2010/index.php?cparticle=5&siarticle=4#artanc (10) The Five Point Weekend Escape Plan. (October 1, 2010) New York Magazine | Travel. http://nymag.com/travel/weekends/poughkeepsie/