Digital is cost effective marketing solution for holiday chalet owner

cromer-pier-holiday-norfolk1 In 2010, when the price for marketing her holiday chalet doubled overnight, Debbie Copas turned to the internet for help in keeping costs down.

A year earlier, Debbie had become the owner of a chalet in Norfolk, on a park which offered to manage the lettings. But a change in park management led to these commissions doubling, at which point Debbie, who lives in Hertfordshire, decided to market the chalet herself.

Today she owns two chalets and manages a barn conversion, using social media, listing sites and a website to generate interest and business.

This is not a Dorset social media story

As you may have spotted, there is no connection between Debbie and Dorset—except that she is solving a problem that faces the owners of many Dorset holiday properties, that of finding customers.

Back in 2010, Debbie’s first response to taking on her own marketing was to throw together a website and put an advert on eBay. She also added her accommodation to listing sites. Since then she’s learned a huge amount about digital marketing and has embraced social media networks.

Todays approach to digital marketing of holiday accommodation

At the heart of Debbie’s digital marketing strategy is her website, along with her Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The website is an absolute must and it’s worth investing in a good design and filling it with high quality content. Debbie’s site is clear, simple and, very importantly, it passes the Google mobile-friendly test.

Clean and simple - the booking page of the Norfolk Coastal website

As of April 2015, websites that are not mobile-friendly will find it harder to get discovered through Google searches. Because more people now browse the web on a mobile device than a laptop or desktop, being mobile-friendly is no longer an optional extra.

Debbie’s Facebook Page, Norfolk Coastal, has enjoyed steady growth to achieve over 1,400 likes. She uses it to share information with her followers and is not too bothered about getting lots of likes and comments on each post. Facebook Groups have proved to be a useful source of new contacts and she has recently started her own Group, for past customers and those interested in holidaying in the Norfolk area.

Her experience is that users of both Facebook and Twitter prefer to engage with an account that has real personality, so she is allowing some of her own character to come through in the posts. Her guests are made aware of the Facebook Page and encouraged to use it to share their holiday photos.

Active engagement generates results

NC-FBFacebook Groups are examples of online communities, which draw together people with common interests. Debbie is part of a similar community on Twitter, where every Saturday morning, tweeters gather to socialise online, using the #satchatUK hashtag. Her activity here, and on Facebook, helps drive people towards the Norfolk Coastal website.

Google+ also features in Debbie’s marketing strategy. While she’s not that active, a presence is maintained because it helps improve her site’s rankings in Google searches.

Listing sites also have a part to play in maintaining Norfolk Coastal’s visibility online. She uses smaller listing sites that focus on specific niches, such as those that feature dog-friendly properties.

Debbie’s advice to anyone wanting to improve their use of digital marketing is to always ask for help and support, because there is no such thing as a stupid question. She finds online forums very useful, where people can share queries and concerns with other accommodation providers, and get useful answers. She recommends the forum at LayMyHat.com.

Staying in control of her marketing activities is important to Debbie. She’s learned that a strategy is required to get results, and, along with the rest of us, she’s still learning and adapting her approach.

See for yourself how Debbie uses digital marketing through:

Her website: NorfolkCoastalHolidays.co.uk Facebook: Norfolk Coastal Holidays Twitter: @NorfolkCoastal

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