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Selling Strong
ResortQuest and Knotice partner to launch a triggered email marketing campaign.

August 26, 2009

Published by Buyer Interactive
Written by Beth Kormanik

While vacation rental giant ResortQuest had a strategic marketing campaign in place, it felt it could do better.

To reach its goals of capturing more prospective vacationers, ResortQuest is turning to digital marketer Knotice for its Concentri EmailPlus email and universal profile management solutions. Knotice, based in Akron, Ohio, made the announcement Tuesday morning and spoke exclusively with Buyer Interactive about the partnership.

"We are looking at improving and being very strategic with our online marketing campaign," said Cheryl Spezia, vice president of marketing at ResortQuest. "We felt Knotice had the best platform out there."

The initiative will include lifecycle campaigns, targeted offers to guests who stay at certain resorts and new information and reminders for guests with an upcoming stay.

"We're the enabling platform provider," Knotice CEO Brian Deagan said. "We are allowing them to capture more information than they currently do to support direct digital marketing and email marketing. We provide tools for an email marketing campaign, which they will be doing themselves."

Reaching out to potential guests in a strategic way is more important than ever as the economy recovers. Data released today from American Express Business Travel as part of its North America Business Travel Monitor showed that in the second quarter of 2009 international hotel rates decreased 12 percent year over year but remained flat domestically. The company attributed the trends to slowing demand from travelers and increasing supply of hotel rooms.

ResortQuest works with third-party distribution channels and wholesale partners; most potential guests find the company online through simple Web searches. ResortQuest represents 140 resort locations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe, with a portfolio of over 100,000 vacation rentals. Spezia said the goal is to build on its easy-to-maneuver Web site and communicate to potential guests that they can book a vacation rental without confusion or difficulty. She said the company has an extensive customer database and plans to make better use of it with Knotice.

"We were looking for a company that was innovating and growing and looking at new opportunity," she said.

Knotice's universal profile management solution can power email marketing to obtain information about known and anonymous users. Known users are people who have opted into a marketing program and may have even stayed at a property before. For unknown users, Knotice can create a profile for them that will allow companies to track and target that profile with specific messages geared toward making a sale.

Knotice is able to store everything from folio information from a recent stay, to the keyword a potential guest used to get into a company's Web site six months ago. A company can decide how to target a returning guest differently from someone who spent time on the Web site but never booked.

"We have a wealth of information to power direct digital marketing," Deagan said. "With email marketing in hospitality, you really need that so you can target your information."

Branded Web sites are becoming better poised to compete with global distribution systems for bookings, which is better for the bottom line as well as the strength of the brand.

"Within hospitality, the direct relationship with the guest is becoming increasingly important," Deagan said. "That's where the focus is and will continue to grow to be. The margin impact on a stay is pretty significant if it can be booked direct rather than through an intermediary."

He said businesses like his should be sensitive to how hotel chains approach mass digital marketing.

"My opinion is, you have to start at the guest and work backwards," he said. "If I'm staying at a Hilton, as a guest do I care if it's a franchise-owned Hilton or corporately owned? I'm dealing with Hilton. It does a disservice to everyone if you are not thinking from a consumer's perspective. We want to be able to provide a platform that meets objectives of the franchiser and the franchises within the parameters of the expectations of a consumer."

As online marketing programs mature, it's not uncommon for Knotice to pick up clients who had experience working with other platforms.

"Things like online behavior information on the Web site, using that to power email marketing, changing up the online experience -- those things are being done pretty much in every B to C industry today," Deagan said. "The question is how its being done and the effectiveness of how it's being done."

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