Driving bookings during slow seasons
The Atlantis Oceanfront Inn, Massachusetts, close to Good Harbor Beach on Gloucester’s shore, offers 40 rooms all with breathtaking views of the ocean. The seasonal hotel, open May-October, offers guests oceanfront activities such as swimming, whale watching, and kayaking, and allows guests easy access to Gloucester’s quaint downtown shopping and restaurants.
Jane Fredrick has worked at the Atlantis for over 19 years, primarily in operations, and has seen the Inn evolve. She remembers that not that long ago, to market to customers it bought ads and did print mailings. Now she explained the Inn has a website to showcase the beautiful views, it has dabbled in SEO, and recently created a Facebook and Instagram page. “In order to attract guests, we need to stay current and on trend with how travelers are researching and booking their stays,” said Jane. Several years ago, Jane began exploring partner options because the Inn needed to improve its slow season bookings and stay more visible online. “When you look at the world, you know that people need to be able to book online,” she said.
Jane had heard of Expedia, but was hesitant to explore that option initially. “When you’re used to doing everything yourself, selling yourself, it was hard to trust that someone else would have your best interest at heart,” she said, “We also didn’t want to give up too much of our revenue.” During the initial meetings with Expedia’s market managers, Jane specifically remembers how they guided her through the process, step by step, and were willing to work through her fears.
Atlantis partnered with Expedia in June 2014. The relationship started out small, with Atlantis posting just a few rooms, since overbooking was a huge concern, as customer service is the Inn’s top priority. “Our front desk is the hub of the Inn, and where we excel is in providing great service to our customers,” said Jane. When she integrated Expedia into her operating system, the difference was enormous – making the booking process easier to monitor and letting her efficiently manage the property. Her experiences with the market management team also helped her gain trust in Expedia. “The customer service that Expedia’s market management team provides is wonderful, whenever I call, someone is always there to answer my questions.” Solidifying her trust in the team is that they are there to help her stay competitive in her marketplace.
Since joining Expedia, Atlantis has seen an increase in exposure to guests they normally wouldn’t have been exposed to. “The name of the game is visibility, by working with Expedia we have increased our online marketing and seen increases in slow season bookings,” said Jane. “We’ve had guests we would have never received previously, and seen an increase in younger clientele through Expedia bookings.” Through Expedia’s marketplace, Atlantis is able to showcase the beautiful views guests can enjoy and explore the variety of activities available for customers. “Expedia and our site, really showcase the beauty of the location,” said Jane, “When I come around the corner at the Inn, the ocean view still takes my breath away – and I want our guests to be able to experience that.”
Increase in Bookings
Since joining Expedia, Atlantis has seen a significant increase in last minute bookings. “Typically, 1-2 days out we’ll come in and see that we have received at least five additional reservations,” she explained, “I appreciate that Expedia provides useful tools for customers to book the way and when they want.”
With a changing local market, Jane is cognizant of the need to stay competitive. She wants to be where her customers are and sees that people want to be marketed to differently than in the past. “To get customers, hotels need to stay current, and Expedia truly is the tool that people are using to book hotels. To be successful you need to be relevant and be where the customer is,” Jane said.
Looking toward the future
This year, Atlantis is looking to leverage its partnership with Expedia to see how the Inn can optimize is revenue. When thinking about what she’s learned through her Expedia experience, it’s that ultimately she still has control over her business, now with a little more help. ”Don’t be afraid that you’re giving up control of your property, you’re not, you’re still in control,” she said.
When looking at the upcoming year, Jane said she’ll rely on the expertise of her market managers to provide guidance and help her succeed. She advised, “Use your market managers as your tool, as someone who can help you and try to distinguish what it is you want to achieve through your partnership. The great thing about Expedia is they cater the service to you, I needed to move slowly and get adjusted to using an OTA, and they worked with me.”
ATLANTIS OCEANFRONT INN
“The name of the game is visibility, by working with Expedia we have increased our online marketing and seen increases in slow season bookings."
ATLANTIS OCEANFRONT INN