For Bud St. Pierre, having an online presence means more than just the number of people who “like” his hotel.
He uses VBrochure, as well as social media tools, to encourage online conversation about his hotel, knowing that it’s the initial spark that is the key to achieving merchandising hero status.
The King & Prince Beach and Golf Resort is the only ocean front resort on St. Simons Island off the coast of Georgia. Located in a very private area, the resort allows couples and families to get away from the hustle and bustle of normal everyday life. Celebrating over 75 years of hospitality, the King & Prince has been praised for its modern features and magnificent ocean views since 1941. With an interesting connection to WWII history, the King & Prince became a member of the prestigious Historic Hotels of America, and was named to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
Our Merchandising Hero
Now at his 4th historic hotel, Bud St. Pierre has been with the King & Prince Beach & Golf Resort for more than ten years. After attending school for Resort and Recreation Management and gaining experience in the industry, he finds that he enjoys working at independent properties.
Bud realizes that maintaining an online presence for his hotel is not only a good idea, but a crucial aspect in achieving business success. He says, “People typically visit a multitude of websites before making a buying decision. Print ads, newspapers and older media will always have a place, but we are switching over to more of the online side.”
Bud feels strongly that travel shoppers need to be able to see great visual imagery of the resort before they book a stay, but they also need to be able to imagine what the overall experience will be like. What better way to do so than to have others do it for you through social media? Therefore, Bud no longer worries about the number of Facebook ‘likes’ his hotel has. “So many people make reservations directly from Facebook but they haven’t ‘liked’ the resort.” says Bud. “We pay more attention to the ‘Talking About’ instead.” He adds, “For example, if a hotel has some unique history and architecture, Facebook allows those people to find the hotel and have conversations about such things.”
With so many online channels, and social media opportunities available to hotel marketers, staying on top of everything can seem never-ending. Bud finds it a challenge to present his hotel’s visual story—which he augments often with new photography—consistently across all of the marketing channels he wants to reach.
VBrochure to the Rescue
Bud turned to VBrochure to address the challenges of presenting a consistent message, and sparking social media conversation. “The VBrochure player allows us to really tell a story with our photos and video. We can organize the tabs based on different areas of interest such as weddings or restaurants.” He adds, “We’re currently working at incorporating people into our media to really help travel shoppers picture themselves as part of that story. “One of the best features of VBrochure is that we can manage the content ourselves, so it’s easy to keep it relevant and up-to-date, everywhere that we use it.”
Bud gets people talking about the resort by offering contests, idea-triggering questions and posting travel writers’ stories on the King & Prince Facebook page. ”Travel writers tend to have many followers” says Bud, “and all that conversation goes right back to our website. Once you tell the story and get people talking about their experiences, the rest takes care of itself.” Incorporating the VBrochure Facebook Apps to the King & Prince’s Facebook page has helped turn a regular Facebook page into an engaging, informative, and interactive booking engine with ‘Book Now’ plug-ins built right into the apps.
“Without a doubt VBrochure has had an impact on our bookings.” says Bud. VBrochure allows Bud to showcase photos, video and virtual tours in the way that best showcases the resort, and maintains a consistent format across the different travel websites and OTAs. VBrochure also facilitates Bud’s efforts at sparking online conversation about the King & Prince. “VFML has status in the industry and they have taken the time to do the research, giving us [the tools] that we need to market the resort.” He adds that VFML is the “only one in the industry who can handle the volume of travel sites and social media out there, and they do it well!”