Even when a tourism business is either new or relatively unknown, it can benefit greatly from being in a well-known and sought-after destination.
Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage – the second in my series of tourism profiles – has become very popular thanks partly to its location in the Barossa region of South Australia.
Seppeltsfield’s Sharyn Rogers describes this as a “huge plus”, since many visitors are already searching for the Barossa and naturally come across the cottage in their search.
Nevertheless, there’s no time to sit back on their laurels and wait for bookings to roll in. Sharyn pays a lot of attention to their site content in order to keep it alive and lively.
As a small business – the cottage sleeps two – Seppeltsfield is well positioned to benefit from online marketing, where there is no battle for space. Sharyn also finds that, at little over $300 a night, paying 30% commissions to intermediaries isn’t worth their while.
So Sharyn and her partner Peter choose to market their accommodation directly via their site and with a presence on destination and accommodation sites such as SouthAustralia.com, Barossa.com and the B&B and Farmstay Association.
Seppeltsfield also markets through the Barossa Regional Guide which helps to capture last-minute bookings and encourages word-of-mouth recommendations to friends and relatives overseas.
Sharyn and Peter do a great job of packaging their accommodation with other tour operators, so that visitors can get the best from the region as a whole. They are finding that one in five of their guests will book a package rather than just accommodation.
“Packages are especially popular with overseas visitors,” Sharyn told me. “And over 90% of our internationals are now booking directly online.”
Sharyn recognises the benefit of having a self-managed site: “We are updating our site contantly,” she said. “And I insist on having good images on there to help people see the experience.”
By posting regular news with a subscription facility on the site, they are able to express a personality and maintain interest in Seppeltsfield as an ideal base for a Barossa holiday. This is also a great SEO (search engine optimisation) strategy.
And Sharyn has included a link to TripAdvisor, encouraging guests to write up their experience on this social media site as a fantastic way to attract links back to the Seppeltsfield website.
Keep an eye on the Seppeltsfield site, because Sharyn and Peter are in the throes of revamping it to give it a more contemporary feel.
Revamping and refreshing their web presence is reflected in their approach to the product itself. As a 19th century cottage, Sharyn recognises the demands of their market and keeps the cottage fresh with contemporary facilities, including free wireless broadband internet access (and free use of a laptop computer if required), a Bose iPod Docking Station and “Wave” sound system, and, soon to be installed, a Bose entertainment system.
Congratulations to Seppeltsfield for being declared winner in the Hosted Accommodation category at the South Australia Tourism Awards this year for the third time running, taking them into the Hall of Fame.