Getting Good Customer Information into the System

I have lost most of my posts.  Please be patient with me while I try to recreate them.

In the meantime, if you would like to read this post but don’t want to wait around, please leave me your name and email address and I will send you a copy.

Thank You,

Pamela Wright

FocusedWords

800.478.0516

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

What Do I Need to Ask My Website Developer/Host?

You invest a lot of money into your website and may be surprised to learn that you didn’t get what you thought you were paying for.

There are a number of questions that you should be asking and you definitely need to understand the answers you are receiving. Above all else, you should document what you expect to receive for the dollars you are spending when you develop a new website.

Knowing the questions to ask before you commit is critical

Knowing the questions to ask before you commit is critical

Here are just a few of the questions you need to ask.
1.) Will your site be designed to be responsive and not just mobile friendly?

There is a very real difference in responsive and mobile friendly.

A responsive site is going to provide optimal viewing across a wide range of devices.

A mobile friendly site is developed so that it displays accurately on either a desktop/laptop computer or on mobile devices. The key here is that accurately does not mean that it is going to adjust the page size to be legible and it may not work perfectly. It will only be functional.

In today’s world a responsive design is a must, especially in the Outdoor Hospitality Industry.

2.) Who Will Host Your Site and What will the Hosting Costs Cover?

Frequently the company who is building your website for you will also offer you a hosting package (the price is going to vary depending on your geographical location but it seems to be hovering somewhere between $45 – $200 per month.) While you can host a site yourself for a very nominal charge (as low as $2.25 a month) the real question to ask yourself is whether you are prepared to take on the added responsibility.

A part of the hosting package should include keeping the backside of your website up to date.

Just like any other software (and your website really is a piece of software) updates need to be made to take care of problems that have been encountered, advances in techniques and any other of a myriad reasons. If you are hosting your website yourself you will either need to take on this role, pay someone else to do it or allow your website to become outdated.

There are still a number of websites out there that originally used software such as Front Page, which has been discontinued. This means that when you want to make a change to your website to add a new amenity or change your rates you are going to run into issues of finding someone who still uses the outdated software.

While you are on the subject of hosting costs, ask if any changes are included in your hosting package. Make sure you understand what kinds of changes are covered and how frequently you can make those changes.

3.) How Locked In to One Company Are You?
Ask your web developer what they are going to use to code your website.  Will it be in WordPress, HTML, Business Catalyst, or some other system?

All of these packages have their advantages and disadvantages; however, one consideration is that if you should decide to move your site to a different service, you will need to find one that supports the software that your site is based on.

4.) What is the Response Time for Major Problems on the Site?
What happens if your site is hacked? How quickly will the company respond to this issue? Do they only work Monday through Friday?

While this may seem a question that has an obvious answer, you need to understand the commitment that your web design company is making to you.

Having your site down over a holiday weekend because no one is working after hours can have a huge impact on your sales income. On top of that, add in a site that is hacked and has been blacklisted and you have a huge problem on your hands.

5.) Will A CMS (Content Management System) Be Used?

Unless you want a brochure site that remains static and doesn’t get a lot of search engine love, you are going to need to be able to change the content on your site frequently.

With a CMS in place, you or one of your employees can make those changes without having to go into the code.

The key here is to again determine if the CMS that is going to be incorporated is one that is readily available or one that the design company has put together.

This is just a short list of things that you need to consider about your website. Even if you are completely satisfied with your current web design company, you should still understand the answers to the above questions.

The adage “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” applies doubly here.  Your website is your customers first impression of who, what, where, when, and why you are in business. Don’t let them down before you get the chance to show them how great you are.

What questions have you come up with that you aren’t sure of what the answers should be? Want to learn more? Let’s chat and see if we can’t help you find your answers.

*******

Need a nudge in the right direction? Give me a call at 800-478-0516 and let’s brainstorm what would work for you. You can find me on Twitter: @RVStops and @FocusedWords and on my groups on LinkedIn, “Social Media in the RV Industry” and “RV Park Management Software User’s Group”. Check out my blog at www.FocusedWords.com/blog for more articles about doing business in a busy world. Copyright by FocusedWords. If you would like to reprint, please email pwright@FocusedWords.com with your request.

Posted in Website | Tagged , , , | Comments closed

How Can I Keep Content Fresh Without Spending Hours on It?

Keeping your content fresh and updated can be a real chore.  Here is a link to tools that can help you with your content:  http://bit.ly/1QB7zdq

I would also strongly suggest that you create a content plan.  Check out this article to get you started:  http://bit.ly/1oFk9wb

Use keyword tools to kickstart your brain.  http://bit.ly/1mVoOZ3

 

Hope these help.  Just remember you can always give us a call and get a 30 minute brainstorming session to help you get started.

Posted in Management | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Can I Find Groups to Market To?

 

There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle of finding groups to market to.  Here is a link to a slideshow that I have used to try to explain all of the moving parts:  http://bit.ly/1T4EQyr

The toughest part is in finding the groups initially.  Once you have had a group in and have given them a good experience, your reputation is going to keep you supplied with groups wanting to visit.

In the meantime, here are some ideas:

  1. Google is your best friend in this endeavour.  Start your search with simple keywords and keep expanding those to refine your answers.
  2. Consider creating your own group.  Contact your frequent visitors and make them a part of your special group.  Select a date that works for you and then give them a special discount to come visit.
  3. Family reunions, class reunions, etc. are a perfect avenue for bringing in group business.  Especially since they frequently have out of town visitors.
  4. Church groups are often looking for someplace to have a group picnic, a retreat or just an outing.  Don’t overlook the possibilities.
  5. Small conferences/off site meetings are a prime target for group discounts.  Let the businesses with several miles of you know that you can offer a great discount for them.

These are just a few of the places that you can look for group business.  Need more ideas?  Give me a call or send me an email and let’s see if we can’t improve your bottom line on groups.

Posted in Marketing, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What Should I Have in My Group Marketing Packet?

As a final step in setting up your group marketing program, you need to create an agreement form between the group and the park/resort. Trust me, this is a step that you don’t want to skip.

Without some type of formal agreement you are going to find yourself going back and forth with a “he said/she said” argument. Once it is down in writing and both parties have signed on the bottom line, the biggest items for disagreement are taken away. This should be a “living” document that gets changed and refined as you get closer to the arrival date. The number of units that are planned for at the beginning of the negotiations always changes by the time you are 30 days away from arrival. You may sell the group on having you cater a meal for them; any number of items may be added or subtracted.

So what does a group/park agreement look like? You can make it as fancy or as simple as you like, just make sure that the following are in it.

  • Identify the contact person. This may or may not be the person that you talk to originally. The contact person should be the one who assumes responsibility for the group. You may even need two contact names: the Wagonmaster and the financial person. Make sure that you have cell phone numbers for your Wagonmaster. As the day gets closer, you will probably have a number of items that need to be refined and without that cell phone number you may have to jump through hoops to contact the group.
  • How many units is the group reserving for and what are their lengths. This number will fluctuate somewhat as the group collects their participant’s information but it will at least give you a starting point. The lengths just need to say the smallest unit is x feet long with a tow and the largest unit is x feet long with a tow. This will allow you to lay out the sites that you are setting aside for the group.
  • How long is the group going to stay? Make a line for the number of nights that the group plans to stay with you followed by an arrival date and a departure date.   This should be only for the group as a whole. It is not unusual to have group members who want to stay with you longer than the group; however, their extended stay is not a part of the dates of stay for the group.
  • What is the rate you are agreeing to? List the rate per RV, per night, for x number of people per RV. Add a line for tax and total the individual rate up. You may need two lines for this item if the group is staying over a period when a special event in your area takes place. (I.e. Balloon Fiesta, State Fair, etc.)
  • List any additional requests the group may have such as entertainment, catering, sound system, etc. You may want to set up separate agreements for each of those items. Also add a line for any additional information.
  • Identify the deposit required and when the deposit is due. You may need to list more than one deposit and date if the group is very large or if the group thinks that the number of units will fluctuate greatly. Also add a line for the final payment and the due date for it. As I stated in the earlier articles, I believe you should ask for final payment 30 days prior to the arrival.
  • If the group wants to use your clubhouse/pavilion facilities be sure to note what the dates are, what times for each date and what your policies are regarding cleaning, key return, etc.
  • Be very specific regarding your cancellation policy. State a date that the cancellation for the entire group must be made by. Note here if your policy is to retain any portion of the deposit and how much would be retained. State a date that cancellation of individual units must be made by. I would require that the final list of individuals and their rig size would be provided by this date.
  • Make sure you have a line for both the group leader and yourself to sign.

There are a number of other items that you can include in your agreement, but make sure that you at least cover these. This will save you a lot of headaches during the group stay.

What do you have in your packet?

 

 

Posted in Marketing, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Do I Handle Groups When They Arrive?

I have lost most of my posts.  Please be patient with me while I try to recreate them.

In the meantime, if you would like to read this post but don’t want to wait around, please leave me your name and email address and I will send you a copy.

 

Thank You,

Pamela Wright

FocusedWords

800.478.0516

We Keep the Focus on You!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

Ways to Tell if Your Marketing is Working

Marketing takes a big chunk out of our budgets and unless we pay close attention we may not get the Return on Investment (ROI) that justifies the expense.

How do we make sure that what we are paying for is really giving us any value?

First of all, if we don’t have a unique CTA (Call to Action) on each and every marketing effort, our job just got a whole lot tougher. We have made a New Year’s Resolution that all of our marketing efforts will be easy to determine whether or not they are working for us.

Now we need to assemble three items to measure the effectiveness of our digital marketing efforts.

What is the budget?
What do the Analytics tell us?
What insights do we gain?

Create a spreadsheet that lists each month for the rest of this year across the top and use the first column to list all the places where we are spending our marketing dollars. This is our basic budget versus actual cost table.

Next we are going to create a spreadsheet for our marketing campaigns. For each month across the top we will have 3 columns: Cost, CTR (click-through rate)/Response Rates and % Growth.

We will identify each place where we are marketing in the first column.

Now we will begin filling in the information for each month. We have to give each type of campaign at least 3 months to either show that they are working or that they are missing the mark and not giving us any ROI.

At the end of the 3rd month we are going to sit down and determine whether we need to adjust, improve or drop each campaign.

We have forms that we have used to do this effort. If you would like a sample, just email us at pwright@FocusedWords.com and we will get a PDF to you to help you out.

Posted in Marketing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Taking Control of Your Digital Marketing

It doesn’t take long to be lost in the digital forest while the rest of our business is starving for attention. How do we take control?

What are the goals of doing digital marketing

Business Goals

  • Brand Awareness
  • Thought Leadership
  • Word of Mouth
  • Leads
  • Sales

Social Goals

  • Reach
  • Consumption
  • Shared/Retweets
  • Actions (this is the most important one, IMHO)

Where are we today

  • Digital Footprint
  • Do a Google search
  • Set up Google Alerts
  • Check out systems such as mention.com

What do we already have

  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • etc.

When was the last post for each

What Action needs to happen

What does our customer use

  • Email
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram
  • etc.

Once we have established where we currently are, compare that to where our customers are. Realign where we want to be to where our customers are looking for us.

Send us an email for a PDFs of forms to make this effort easier.

Posted in Marketing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Quick and Dirty Marketing Plan

What it isn’t

  • A real marketing plan isn’t pretty
  • It won’t impress
  • It doesn’t have all the words
  • It won’t be on impressive paper

What it is

  • A plan for the next year
  • A working document
  • A brain dump of your ideas for the next year

What it looks like

  • Could be a spreadsheet
  • Could be a Word document
  • Could be written on a yellow legal pad

What it does

  • Collects your thoughts
  • Schedules those thoughts
  • Becomes a reasonable map for your marketing efforts

What it needs to answer

  • My reason for existence
  • What sets me apart
  • What do I want to accomplish this year
  • Top 3 things I need to do to get there
  • My ideal customer is (should have more than one type of customer)
  • What is most important to my ideal customer when they are buying
  • How am I going to influence each of my customer personas
  • What is the schedule for those influencing efforts
  • How am I going to measure the effectiveness of these efforts

How to get it done

  • Set time aside each week to work on your marketing plan
  • Don’t do any marketing until you have your schedule and campaigns identified
  • Schedule a brainstorming session with us to get started on making your plan happen
Posted in Marketing | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

2016,The Year Of More Changes

Now that the party is over and you are trying to remember to write 2016 instead of 2015, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at what we can expect this year.

2016...The Year of More Changes

Social Media changes are happening in 2016. Are you ready?

 

  • Video Marketing – Using video to promote your park is going to be more important than ever in 2016. We are quickly becoming a visual society. What better way to show your potential customers how great your park is than through video? I recommend that you consider having a video contest. Ask your guests to submit videos on your YouTube channel and then open it up for votes for the best video. I would even consider having a monthly winner who then moves into the running for the season’s winner. This will give you new video content without having to spend all your time trying to figure out what you want to film.
  • Private Groups – While having a Facebook page has become a necessity, very few pages are really effective. There are lots of reasons behind this, not the least of which posting “sell” comments gets boring and repetitive. You may want to consider creating a private group on Facebook for your RVer’s. This is a great place to showcase your customer service policies.
  • Coordinated Materials – It will be even more important that ALL of your marketing materials present a consistent image. You can’t brand your park if your website looks one way, your brochure looks another and your guest guide has a totally different look. Take the time this year to settle on one overall image and stick with it!
  • “Doing Social Media” will finally die –– Just being on Facebook, posting to YouTube or tweeting your latest special isn’t going to cut it anymore. Quit talking about yourself and start engaging with your customers. Establish your goals, content distribution and what audience you are targeting across all of your social media tools. That’s right! Social Media sites are TOOLS and not the answer to all of your marketing problems.
  • Mobile is “Where it is at” – If you don’t have a responsive website, this is the year to get one! I feel pretty safe in saying that 75% of your guests use a mobile device to interact with you and your website. If it takes too long to load, if they have to scroll across to read your home page, if it is hard to navigate the screen, you will quickly lose that customer to a campground that doesn’t have that problem. GET a responsive site!!
  • Paying for SEO is dead –– I don’t know how many of you are still paying someone to get your website ranked higher on Google, but the fact is that doing keywords only is quickly falling to the bottom of the list. Start considering what content you can create and publish on your website. If you hate writing or just don’t have the time, consider working with a company that can find content for you that can be published on your site for little or no cost. Your Google ranking will thank you for it.

 

Those are just 6 of my predictions for 2016. It is going to be a fun, creative and a booming year for the Outdoor Hospitality Industry. Let’s have fun with it while we are growing a vibrant business.

 

Posted in Management, Marketing, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
  • NetworkedBlogs

  • Meta