ASX-listed property company Aspen Group is a provider of value accommodation in the retirement, residential and short stay sectors across Australia. There are many individual operating businesses within the Aspen Group, including holiday parks, retirement communities and workforce parks.
While a large operation, the Aspen central services team is very lean.
Pepperit was appointed as the outsourced marketing team for Aspen’s operating businesses including six holiday parks, two corporate workforce parks and two retirement communities.
We were charged with working with each business manager and the centralised marketing manager to promote the individual brands to their relevant audiences in the most appropriate ways, and as their business strategy required.
There are many moving parts to this story. With a range of knowledge and resources at each location, we’ve scaled our attention to these brands as needed.
The six holiday parks are geographically very spread out, which allowed us to promote some seasonal campaigns as a group, but with many bespoke touches. When a low wet season in Darwin corresponds with a peak summer season on the eastern seaboard, you must be vigilant with differences in imagery, offers and messaging. We loved getting creative with such a bright, family-friendly product.
We got to develop full campaign concepts including theming, messaging and asset creation across multiple digital and in-park channels.
In the seasonal campaigns, our creative approach aligned with Aspen’s objectives of individual park brand awareness and increased revenue through the implementation of special deals and promotional codes. Understanding the unique markets in which these parks operated, each of their distinctive product offerings (including full restaurants, conferencing, groups, cafes, activities and equipment hire) and the demographics of those they were targeting was pivotal to the successful execution of these campaigns. We even visited most of them to get the real experience!
When Aspen partnered with Paramount Pictures for the release of Dora and the Lost City of Gold, pepperit worked with Paramount to develop digital and printed creative, rolling out a competition, in-park scavenger hunts, craft and activities.
We were pleased to see that the assets we developed drove high levels of entries via social media and websites, as well as incremental stays at the participating parks.
Outside of end-to-end campaigns, ongoing work for the holiday parks involved most aspects of the marketing function: website management, social media management, search engine optimisation, email marketing and bespoke training and guides.
Another key aspect of Aspen’s operations are the non-tourism assets including retirement communities and workforce parks. We were delighted to build and maintain websites for all four of these businesses. In addition, we created a social media presence for the two retirement communities.
As short term or permanent accommodation product, the digital footprint of all these businesses was primarily formed to increase conversions. The definition of a conversion changes across these businesses; some look to sell rooms or cabins on a nightly basis, others look to generate leads that will turn into purchases of retirement homes by downsizers buying into the community. The secondary purpose of these digital assets was to generate a greater sense of community within the estate.
Given increased revenue is a major metric for Aspen, the main challenge in determining revenue results lies in the company not using a consolidated property management system. Also, holiday parks are an anomaly in the accommodation sector, in that at least 70% of bookings are still made directly over the phone or as walk-ins.
Through promotional codes and loading special package rates, we were able to track our seasonal campaign work to an increase in incremental revenue, year on year. On average, each seasonal campaign delivered an additional $74,000 to the parks. Plus, the Dora competition drove the highest levels of participation for in-park activities like kids’ club and school holiday events in several years. True to our own internal philosophy, we worked on a strategy to use more authentic imagery from each of the parks in their social media content. For some of the parks, it required new photography but was ultimately worthwhile when we saw an 111% increase in organic reach with the new content style. Guests responded very well to seeing the real experience and picturing themselves in it.
Email marketing continues to be a very successful medium for holiday parks. The typical holiday park guest is very loyal to this type of travel, and often, the individual park. Our open rates were consistently higher than industry average at 23%. We maintained click through rates that delivered 1-2% conversion rates through segmentation, quality content and relevant offers. Focused and long-term work in on-page and off-page optimisation to move the organic position of a few parks further ahead of their specific competitors also proved effective by gaining them number one positions in Google’s search results.
The retirement communities built their new websites for the purpose of driving leads to the onsite managers, the most cost-effective way to secure buyers.
The websites continue to generate several new leads each month. Both retirement communities have also seen a greater rate of social following through blogs, events and other engagement strategies employed.