As your marketing team has probably already realised, your resort cannot afford to neglect digital marketing such as social media, photos, videos and blog posts. The power of social media is undeniable as an amazing tool to help promote your resort to a global audience. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube and apps like Instagram and Snapchat, are used by some of the biggest brands in the world, smaller independent companies and individuals such as freelancers. If your resort is not actively utilizing these incredible marketing tools, then it is already behind all of these other businesses and individuals. Social media is highly effective as a marketing tool which is why brands and individuals are increasingly utilizing it.

Within the travel and tourism industry there are many major brands such as Airbnb and G Adventures, that are using highly evolved digital marketing strategies to effectively engage with the public and their customers, create greater brand loyalty and increase bookings. Unlike many forms of traditional marketing which increasingly people do not trust and actively ignore such as TV commercials or print adverts, social media allows your resort to connect on a much more personal level with your guests and potential guests. Rather than trying to force something upon them, they will often find your resort through your posts being shared by friends and family.

Many travel brands, such as those mentioned are also showcasing photos, videos and blog posts written by their own guests. The result is that this form of marketing becomes more relatable and trustworthy, as most people are simply posting something on social media because they enjoyed the experience. These posts can also be interspersed in your social media marketing campaign with exciting and interesting valuable content such as an incredible video of the local area or stunning photos of your resort.

There are three possible options your resort could use to manage its digital marketing strategy:

1 – Relying fully on your in-house marketing team

This may seem like a very sensible option, as your marketing team are there on site at the resort and know exactly what the local area is like. Who better than to manage your resort social media than the marketing team that have worked there for years and know your resort and location inside and out? Well here is where the problem to this idea may lie. Although your marketing team probably have years of experience, perhaps this experience is based on what used to work in the past. They are unlikely to be completely up to date with all the changes that have been happening in the last five years due to the huge digital transformation that has taken place.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have all been around now for about a decade, but they have changed immeasurably from where they first started. For example Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are increasingly becoming centred around video. Then you have apps like Snapchat and Periscope which have sprung up in the last couple of years, but have changed the face of social media completely. The pace of change is huge and keeps getting quicker and quicker. With Periscope and Facebook Live you can now broadcast live video directly from your phone from your resort to anywhere in the world. Snapchat has in the past couple of months released Spectacles which allow users to record 10 second snaps directly from cameras on the sunglasses. These are all things that would have seemed impossible even a decade ago!

One of the biggest issues with keeping everything in-house is the way that technology and social media has moved on so rapidly. While many in your marketing team are likely to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. they are unlikely to specialise in how to get the best out of them, unless they have undertaken specialist training. In addition to this, while they may be able to take a decent photo or video, or produce a well written blog post, if you are looking for truly valuable content that creates a significant online buzz about your resort, you may need to look elsewhere.

2 – Outsource your resort digital marketing

A second option that can be observed among some companies and brands within the travel and tourism industry is the complete outsourcing of their digital marketing to outside digital marketing agencies or freelancers. To some resort managers this might seem like the most viable option. As stated at the beginning of this article, your resort marketing team has likely realised that effective inbound digital marketing is becoming far more effective than traditional outbound marketing techniques. While you may want to still rely on some of the more traditional techniques in-house such as sales talks, it may seem sensible to completely outsource the digital marketing to a specialist agency or freelancers.

This is because of the problems in relying solely on your in-house marketing team such as the rapid development and changes in social media and the specialist knowledge and skills needed to effectively use these. In addition becoming a professional photographer, filmmaker or copywriter can take years of dedicated training. Your resort may decide to look for specialist digital marketing teams that specialise in social media, photography, blogging and film-production to take over your marketing. While there are benefits to this due to the fact these outside agencies have specialist skills, they will often lack the personal touch because ultimately they are not completely connected with your brand.

Outside digital marketing agencies are often not located in the same city or even country as your resort, so cannot always get an accurate feel for what it is like to stay at your resort or take a holiday in the location it is located. This may mean that posts produced by these agencies, while effective in some ways may lack the authenticity of digital marketing maintained by your in-house team. This will come across as false to your guests and people you are trying to attract to stay at your resort in the future, thus undermining the credibility of your marketing.

Choose a combined strategy for maximum digital marketing success

Here at RDOdigital, we believe that the most effective strategy for maximum digital marketing success is to choose a combined strategy of in-house marketing and outsourcing. It is very important to encourage and train your marketing team within your resort to be able to effectively use social media and other forms of digital marketing such as YouTube and blogs. While there is still some room for more traditional forms of marketing, increasingly your resort should instigate this switch within your marketing team.

It would be advisable to employ a digital marketing expert from outside the resort to come and work with your team to train them in modern marketing techniques. In this sense you are combining the best of both worlds as you are utilising the skills of a specialist from outside, to  help bring your in-house team up to speed. After your in-house marketing team have these skills they can then begin to use social media to effectively market your resort in a much better way. After all, who knows your resort and the local area better than the people who actually live and work there? Your team will have the new skills to combine with their knowledge and connection to your resort brand and guests.

As well as employing an outside specialist to help train your in-house team to be able to much more effectively utilise modern digital marketing strategies, your resort could also continue to work with an outside agency. Your in-house team could be producing great social media posts and content and sharing these online, and a specialist digital marketing agency outside the resort that could even be located in another country, can help to grow your resort’s online presence. Your in-house marketing team could concentrate on their skills and knowledge and the outside agency could utilise techniques to increase your social media following, continue posting throughout the day and really expand the reach of your social media channels, blog and website using their specialist knowledge.

In addition, for the very high end videos and photos that will be the showcase of your resort, you should employ outside professionals who are often freelancers to come and produce this content. If you want an amazing video or stunning photos that are really going to impress people online and shared thousands of times across social media, then you need to employ professionals. It is still relatively easy to tell the difference between high-end professionally produced media compared to amatuer photos and videos which are often taken on a phone. It would also be advisable to work with media teams on a media trip. During these trips a team of specialist photographers, filmmakers and bloggers would come and stay at your resort for around a week and take part in various excursions. From this trip they would create a range of different content which can then be shared by them and your in-house marketing team over the coming months. Although the initial cost may seem high, these kind of media trips have great short and long term value, with both the buzz created during the trip and the media that can be shared later on.

Your team have great experience and skills which should definitely continue to be utilised to promote your resort. On the other hand it is always useful to gain a new perspective from an outside source which has new skills and ideas to bring to the table. The best solution for your resort is to combine in-house and outsourced digital marketing!

Let us know in the comment section below or via our social media using #RDOdigital if your timeshare resort has used a combined in-house and outsourced digital marketing strategy.