thecottageCS

'Direct' Is Now Our Top Channel For Bookings

+128%

UPLIFT IN DIRECT BOOKINGS

+45%

UPLIFT IN WEBSITE TRAFFIC

How were you managing your digital marketing before working with DHM?

I was managing my digital marketing by doing it all myself. So I wasn't really managing it. I was more doing it, which was really sub-par. It wasn't good enough. I had to train myself up as I was going along. It was all doable, you can do your own social media and your own digital marketing, but you just don't do it very well.

We had a new website built for us and the idea was that I would then manage it but it started to look unprofessional very quickly. Even with working with someone who would do the more complicated aspects of the redesign on the website, just me getting in there and touching up things. It just wasn't holding together as a whole piece.

The email marketing wasn't nearly as slick as it is now. And frankly, it's just impossible to run a hotel and keep on top of social media. There's just so much social media. You need to be there all the time to really have a voice and to really connect with your audience. And if you're running a hotel, you're not going to be able to do that as much as you want to be able to do it, it's going to fall behind.

Why did you choose DHM over the other hotel marketing agencies you spoke with?

We chose DHM because all the digital marketing agencies were promising everything under the sun and it was kind of mind-blowing and exhausting and it all seemed unachievable. And when we met with DHM, it was the first company that had a very clear strategic objective, (which has now changed over the years we’ve been working together) which was to rebuild the website and get people booking direct. That was a really tangible, clear, strategic objective that we could achieve.

"Customers even call us to say, ‘thank you for your lovely emails, we love hearing from you’. That’s just incredible engagement."

Were there any obstacles that almost prevented you from choosing DHM?

You obviously have to look at what other people are offering and I suppose there was a little part of me thinking, well, these other agencies are offering all these other things as well. Should we thinking about that? And I think I talked about it with (DHM’s CEO) Adam, at the time and remember asking him, ‘what about SEO? Should we be focusing on that?’ And his answer at the time was really clear: yes, but later.

First we want improve the conversion of your website so customers stay on your website and they don't go anywhere else. I suppose the fear was that we were being too specific with our focus, but actually I had real confidence in the idea that it was a strategic achievable objective.

What features of our digital services were of most interest to you?

Well firstly your whole proposition of ‘direct hotel marketing’ was what really what sold me.

Secondly, having one account handler who would manage everything for me. All the agencies I looked at offered that, but of course you could, if you have more time on your hands, you could go and find all these different agencies, one that does the copywriting one that does this, one that does that and you could coordinate it all yourself. But if you're running a hotel and you don't have time for that, and also things get messy.

So DHM offers a single point of contact, which was really attractive and I’m really confident in the team that we have and that we’ve worked with these last few years.

Cottage In The Wood and view

What’s the best thing about working with DHM?

Strategy. It's the strategic objective and that, and like I said, we've moved on from direct hotel marketing to other objectives. And we've done smaller campaigns together but they're always strategic, they've always got a plan behind them. Adam has this vision and he works with his team to make sure that they implement that. And I think it works pretty well. I have my account handler - Amy at the moment, she's brilliant - And I know she's working with Adam and I know they’re coming up with ideas together and she's making it happen. 

What have you achieved since working with DHM?

Mostly it’s the really professional website, social media and email marketing and there's continuity throughout all the different digital marketing aspects that are professional and constant. We're able to make changes to the website whenever we want. So our website is seasonal. There's constant social media activity that is strategic. It's not just bashing out comments here, there, and everywhere.

We've got a plan and we're working a month or two ahead. We're planning for the next seasonal activity and we know what sale we're going to be offering next winter. We know where we're going, and that's really nice to have because hospitality is very day-to-day firefighting, constantly making sure the guests are enjoying their experience which makes it very difficult to plan ahead and working with DHM enables us to have that strategic plan so that Christmas is ready on the website way before people are even thinking about booking it.

What the main reasons for recommending DHM as a digital partner?

Is the strategic vision that you bring to our business and the accountability. We have one account handler who makes that vision happen. So you go to your account handler if you have a problem and it gets sorted, and there's always that strategic vision.

"Direct bookings are up 128% from last year. Direct bookings is now our number one channel for booking."

What the main reasons for recommending DHM as a digital partner?

Is the strategic vision that you bring to our business and the accountability. We have one account handler who makes that vision happen. So you go to your account handler if you have a problem and it gets sorted, and there's always that strategic vision.

What surprised you most about working with DHM?

Making my life easier!

What would you say to someone considering DHM?

You have to invest in your marketing to get people to book direct, so you’re not spending so much commission with the OTAs.

How have direct bookings changed since working with DHM?

They’re up 128% from last year. Direct bookings is our number one channel for booking.

Anything you’d like to add about working with DHM?

One thing that has been really interesting is how we have prioritised. You’re the only supplier that we're still pay during lockdown, which isn't something that we’re proud of but it's just the fact that we decided that the most important thing to do is to communicate with our audience all the time. And when the world went online and secluded in their houses, we talked to them all the time through social media and our engagement through social media was excellent.

Customers even call us up to talk to us and reply to our emails saying, ‘thank you for your lovely emails, we love hearing from you’. That’s just incredible engagement to have with your audience during lockdown and I'm really confident that these relationships were a huge factor in the success that we had immediately after lockdown. The hotel was full immediately. We were the first place that people were going to because we kept talking to them the whole way through lockdown.

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