Implementing a post-covid digital strategy for one of the world’s great hotels

The Challenge

Dating from the late 19th Century, The Crane is thought to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in the Caribbean. You will find it on the secluded South East coast of Barbados set on one of the finest pink-sand beaches in Barbados. Overlooking the breakers of the Atlantic Ocean, the location is as breath-taking as it is romantic. Throughout its history, The Crane has set the standard for luxury oceanfront accommodation, amenities and service. Often referred to as the most beautiful hotel on earth, it was, at one time, described as one of ‘fifty places to visit before you die’ by the BBC.  Despite its historical significance, The Crane’s marketing effort is very much a product of the 21st Century. They, like many luxury resorts, benefited from a sophisticated digital strategy.  

The importance of digital marketing to The Crane became apparent in 2021/2022 as the management planned for the end of Covid 19 travel restrictions. Like many in the industry, The Crane management team predicted demand would surge once people were allowed to enjoy travel again. There was, however, no guarantee of being spotted amongst the rush to book longed-for vacations. To flourish in any highly competitive post-lockdown landscape, they recognised a need to rethink their strategy with agency support.

Revising A Digital Strategy

In the face of increased post-covid competition, we were tasked to work with The Crane management team to improve the hotel’s digital marketing performance.  The task was to raise awareness during the predicted resurgence in demand associated with the lifting of Covid travel restrictions. However, it was critical for The Crane to avoid taking their eye off the ball when it came to loyal guests and existing custom. Any activity designed to extend the hotel’s ‘top of the funnel’ reach could not be at the expense of the ‘bottom of the funnel’ conversion. The customer experience needed to remain of the highest quality to ensure precious enquiries turned into bookings and, ultimately, revenue.    

This meant marketing initiatives needed to be carefully reconsidered and redesigned from top to bottom. Simply buying visibility with a significantly increased budget was discounted in early discussions. It was deemed too costly and high risk. There was no guarantee others wouldn’t have bigger pockets.   In discussion with The Crane, we established more sophisticated work packages were required and set about devising an overall marketing strategy. This ultimately included developing new content, managing regional campaigns, providing guidance on offers and packages and creating a mix of ‘top of the funnel’ and ‘bottom of the funnel’ advertising. Once agreed, this was implemented by our team of marketing professionals.

Our numbers

37% Surge In Revenue 

This equates to a substantial ROAS of 1:10 across The Crane’s campaigns which significantly outperformed client expectations. 

The Crane’s strategic investment in a revised digital marketing strategy certainly paid off. The Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) of 1:10 is 7% higher than previous campaigns.


The Outcome

The first step in our strategy was to create a range of online video resources that would act as visually compelling content and drive high levels of audience engagement and visitor dwell times. The Crane has the benefit of a spectacular location, so we made sure this was exploited as fully as possible.  The second part of our approach was to reflect regional differences within the target audience. We established different routes for UK, Canadian and US visitors to reflect variances in preferences and tastes. This culminated in three tailored landing pages which resulted in higher conversion rates and increased customer satisfaction. 

Given our detailed understanding of the hospitality sector, we were also able to provide The Crane with guidance on tailored packages and pricing. As a result of our advice, Crane revenue managers carefully refined its value proposition and aligned it to guests’ perception of a good deal. Finally, we ran highly engaging and impactful campaigns that increased ‘top of the funnel’ reach without sacrificing ‘bottom of the funnel’ effectiveness. We captured a broader audience base than previous campaigns, yet maintained a high level of conversion. This contributed to a welcome surge in revenue and a very impressive return on investment. The results significantly outperformed industry benchmarks as well as our client’s expectations.