In 2011, new owners purchased a dated guest house in Provincetown, MA, that had been in operation for many years.
Inspired by their own travels experiences and hospitality backgrounds, the new owners wanted to reposition the Inn and create a universal appeal for today’s modern traveler. They abandoned the traditional B&B rules and stuffy ambience and targeted guests seeking comfort with a stylish vibe and a strong sense of place. Their goal was to literally redefine the concept of a bed and breakfast. Utilizing their backgrounds in hospitality and design, the new owners took two years to completely renovate and modernize the property, bringing a fresh, contemporary approach to the décor and the service. The new Salt House Inn opened for business in May 2013.
To effectively launch the Inn, the agency needed to communicate the new design, service and benchmark Salt House Inn was setting in Provincetown verses its competitors. We needed to communicate that “this was not your grandmother’s B&B.”
To achieve this, we highlighted attributes important to today’s travelers, i.e. free WiFi, chic modern bathrooms and sustainable amenities in addition to a fresh gourmet breakfast.
Unique “old meets new” accents helped attract our target demographic
The target audience for the Salt House Inn launch message was fairly broad since Cape Cod as a destination has wide consumer appeal. In addition, the reasonable price point of the Inn expands the demographic slightly beyond the traditional “luxury” travelers. We were seeking to reach a chic and savvy national audience focusing initially on metro-Boston and New England for their proximity to the Inn, likelihood to travel a short distance and to create a buzz.
From there we targeted national consumer outlets including print, online and television. Over time, Provincetown has developed a loyal fan base in the LGBT community, so it continues to be an important constituency that we needed to reach as well.
Photos of the Inn would be critical to the campaign, since the décor was such a departure from what has been traditionally offered and would highlight the Inn’s distinctive approach of blending the ‘old and new,’ which create their signature style. An announcement release was crafted, along with an Inn backgrounder and bios of the two owners. The first press release was disseminated to national long lead consumer outlets in February 2012 then to short leads in April. During this time, the agency arranged for the owners to meet and communicate the Inn’s story with key local and national consumer media outlets in New York and Boston. These efforts prompted several media visits which resulted in feature coverage. We also pitched the Inn as a great Memorial Day Weekend getaway to Producers at The Today Show who included it as part of a travel segment featuring beach vacations that still had last minute availability for the holiday weekend.
The key message of the campaign was to announce the opening of Salt House Inn as a new and stylish hotel option on Cape Cod that appeals to today’s chic and savvy traveler.
With its launch, we needed to communicate that Salt House Inn had redefined the concept of a traditional bed and breakfast. The campaign was differentiated by a strong focus on the owners’ personal approach to the design, décor, food and operating style of the Inn. We included lengthy individual quotes from the owners’ in our announcement release that conveyed their vision for the Inn and what differentiated it from a typical bed and breakfast. We ensured that we had an extensive library images that would visually tell the Inn’s story, and included several within the body of the release to illustrate the messages that were discussed. Lastly, we invited editors and freelancers to visit and experience the Inn whenever possible.
The launch goal of widely communicating the Inn’s opening to stylish travelers locally and nationally was achieved with great success. The effectiveness of the campaign can be measured by the volume of coverage, quality and target audience of the outlets where placements appeared and overall seasonal occupancy. In addition to the major lifestyle and travel media coverage, both in print and online, broadcast coverage was achieved with a national segment on NBC’s The Today Show as well as on the Weather Channel. Nationally, the Inn was named to “Condé Nast Traveler’s Hot List 2014,” and included in Travel + Leisure’s Annual compendium “The World’s Greatest Hotels 2014.” In New England, the Inn received coverage in key local outlets, such as the Boston Globe, and received the highly sought-after honor of a “Best of Boston” award for Best New Inn 2013. The Inn’s occupancy felt an immediate impact with the launch of the campaign, and continued through the summer of 2013 right into 2014 enjoying “sold out” status on every weekend in July and August 2013 and 2014 with an overall occupancy of 83% for the season, and 99% in August alone.
While the Inn will not release exact figures regarding revenue generated, we can say that The Salt House Inn had yet another incredible season with every weekend fully booked from opening in May 2014 through to closing on Halloween weekend. July & August 2014 were even busier than in 2013 finishing at 98% occupancy both months. In 2014, revenue increased by 22% year on year and an incredible 68% since the PR and re-branding campaign began in early 2013. In 2012, before the launch of a rebranding and PR campaign, occupancy was 66% for the same period (July & August). Demand for the 2014 season was so high that rates had to be loaded into the system in July 2013, when the year prior they were loaded in December 2012.
In addition to revenue generated from actual bookings, the ROI on the PR spend was phenomenal. For a less than $30,000 spend, the equivalent advertising value of the coverage achieved was $2,196,069.31. That equates to a return on investment of nearly 73%. The total combined circulation of all placements is 151,573,538.