Dubrovnik Hotel Uses Tripadvisor to Drive Visibility & Bookings
Berkeley Hotel & Spa is a 24-room, family-owned hotel in Dubrovnik, Croatia. General Manager Katarina Elez has been focused on building Berkeley’s online presence to encourage more travelers to book directly on the property’s website. Read on to learn how she’s crafted a successful online marketing strategy:
A Tripadvisor Focus
When Berkeley Hotel first opened, Elez quickly determined that she needed to focus her marketing efforts online, particularly on Tripadvisor. "We were one of the first hotels in Dubrovnik on Tripadvisor, since our opening in 2007," she explains. "We’ve always used Tripadvisor extensively, and it’s one of the best things that could have ever happened for our business."
This commitment to online marketing via Tripadvisor continues to benefit Berkeley Hotel, even today. Elez says, "We’ve been able to increase our visibility to travelers searching our destination because we’ve had a strong, consistent presence on Tripadvisor from the start. We have always been among the top 15 properties in Dubrovnik."
Maximizing Visibility to Travelers
As a small 3-star hotel in a city dominated by 5-star hotels with larger marketing budgets, Elez has to be smart with her marketing investments in order to maximize visibility.
"Our guests are coming to us from huge markets like the UK, US and Australia," says Elez. "With our budget, we’ve found it’s really difficult to use tools like AdWords to reach and influence these travelers."
Elez recently invested in an enhanced website that is closely integrated with her channel manager. This allows her to track all of her booking sources — and evaluate what’s driving them. After experimenting with various marketing tools, Elez has found success by leveraging Berkeley Hotel’s already strong presence on Tripadvisor.
In January, Elez upgraded Berkeley Hotel to a Business Advantage Preferred Access subscription because she was looking for a way to increase booking referrals to her website.
"We’ve just finished a renovation and will use the Preferred Access features—like Storyboard and Favorite Photos—to show off these enhancements to travelers," Elez says.
She also uses the Special Offers feature to gauge Business Advantage’s impact on her bookings.
"We post a Tripadvisor exclusive offer and carefully track how it comes back to us. We found that people who booked through our website mention it, and it shows up on bookings from OTAs as well, so we know that travelers went to our Tripadvisor page at some stage."
Once Business Advantage was in place, Berkeley Hotel started using Tripadvisor Sponsored Placements. Elez says, "We know Tripadvisor guests are more confident and more likely to book directly. So, our goal is to use Sponsored Placements to get more guests to book directly on our website, and increase occupancy and ADR during the high season."
Given that Dubrovnik is one of the world’s most seasonal markets, she also thought that Sponsored Placements would drive even more traffic ahead of the high season. As there’s limited demand during low season, Berkeley can’t make up for missed opportunities.
"As guests get closer to booking, they become more price sensitive. Boosting our visibility creates opportunities to influence guests to choose our 3-star property, since our prices are lower than those of the 5-star properties that dominate Dubrovnik."
"It’s definitely cost effective to pay for the Sponsored Placements clicks and have guests book directly with us," says Elez. "We like that our ad appears at the top of the list. Repetition is important, especially given the shopping patterns in our market. Even if they don’t click right now, more people will remember us as an option. Then, when they do click, they’re more likely to book."
Elez plans to continue leveraging Sponsored Placements as a key part of her online marketing strategy. "We take a long-term view on our investments. We’ll continue to track the number of clicks, website traffic and confirmed number of direct bookings from Sponsored Placements over the next six months. So far, our bookings for this season have been quite strong," says Elez.