Background

Opened in mid-2017, LA VELA KHAO LAK is a modern upscale hotel in Southern Thailand, anchored on Khao Lak’s most serene stretch of beach, with a front row seat to the stunningly beautiful Andaman sea.

The hotel produces experiences centred around their glowing hospitality and the beautiful traditions of the local people during the maritime trade era. It’s a fusion of modernity and traditionalism that has transcended time, and this feeling is fueled by the hotel’s location and unique design.

LA VELA KHAO LAK’s owners first heard of our agency through a recommendation from another client of ours. After some initial discussions, we decided to explore working together.

LA VELA’s team recognized that Facebook marketing would be a key driver in positioning their property as the go-to hotel, and Khao Lak as the go-to location in Southern Thailand.

With Thailand being in the top ten most visited countries in the world, it’s a massive achievement that, since we started working together, LA VELA KHAO LAK has consistently been ranked #1 on Facebook page engagement for hotels in Thailand, beating every other ‘big name’ hotel or resort in the country such as:

Grand Hyatt
Sheraton Grande
Pullman Hotel
Millenium Hilton
The Westin
Four Seasons

And many more amazing hotels and resorts…

 

In other exciting news, LA VELA now ranks in the top 50 for hotels globally (out of an estimated +700,000 hotels in the world)

The best part? LA VELA KHAO LAK has grown — and continues to grow — WITHOUT spending huge amounts of money on Facebook marketing. This means it can be done for your hotel and location too.

Let’s check out how we achieved this and several other big wins for LA VELA KHAO LAK!

From working with North Star Digital, we now feel our Facebook strategy & content is as good or better than any high-end hotel or resort in the world.

Paphaporn Puthamart - Marketing Communications Manager - LA VELA KHAO LAK

Goal

We aimed to provide the strongest possible foundation for success with the hotel’s marketing efforts, allowing the LA VELA team to focus on what they do best: providing amazing vacation experiences to their guests.

After several detailed consultations with the LA VELA team, (including our team visiting the hotel for 5 days to experience LA VELA and the Khao Lak area) we defined the primary goals as:

  • Help this newly built hotel become popular online with highly engaging content
  • Leverage our Facebook marketing expertise to increase bookings

Challenge

1. Quickly building and maintaining a unique brand and following for a new hotel

In traditional hotel marketing (tv ads, print ads, partnerships with agents etc) it can take a long time to really build a brand, even then it is extremely hard to control and measure your efforts. We recognized that a strong hotel brand doesn’t exist only in a marketing presentation or online, but also lives and breathes in the hotel, employees and guests. It’s about consistently delighting your audience and creating conversations around the things they love about your hotel and their experiences, rather than simply pushing messages to them.

2. Drive an increase in bookings and occupancy rates with Facebook content marketing and paid ads

As a new hotel, a major challenge was to showcase LA VELA to the right audience. We had to ensure the first waves of guests remembered the hotel for its service, quality, kindness, uniqueness and attentiveness, and then translate that online in terms of content, ads, reviews, and conversations to drive bookings.

3. Understanding the client’s target market

“There’s a whole new generation of travellers who have stayed in amazing hotels and had unique travel experiences,” North Star Digital’s CEO Patrick Epler noted. “They’re much more tuned into what’s happening in terms of cultural relevancy. They’re looking for unique design, and one of a kind experiences when they travel. They’re more informed than previous generations because they’ve seen so much on social media and they also want an outstanding service. At the end of the day, it’s a desire to be really well taken care of, and to document it. We visited the hotel, toured the area, took a pulse check on the hotel’s guests, analyzed other hotels and found that nobody in the area has really owned a unique service culture with inspirational design, and leveraged it to stand out online. For us, determining the most effective way to combine all of that leads us to this positioning of unique design, meets one of a kind experiences, meets highly targeted audiences. That’s really what we’re going for with LA VELA.”

How did this understanding help us develop campaign strategies?

Simply put, today’s concept of a holiday is being defined by experiences. What kinds of holiday experiences do people want today? That is one of many questions hoteliers are asking themselves these days. Having experienced the hotel and the area for ourselves from a guest perspective, we leveraged this perspective with our marketing experience to come up with a highly refined, 3 point plan for LA VELA.

Solution

1. Strategy

First off, we started with a comprehensive Facebook marketing strategy that would provide LA VELA with the strongest possible foundation for both near-term and long-term success. Why is a strategy so important on Facebook? For the same reason you construct your hotel starting with the foundations, so it will last. Facebook marketing strategies are where to start if you want your hotel or any other business to live up to its potential online.

2. Content Marketing

Second up was to engage in long-term ongoing content marketing, showcasing the uniqueness of the hotel, the experiences on offer, the Khao Lak area, and then creating conversations with our audience around all of that.

3. Facebook Paid Ads Management

Thirdly, we deployed a paid ads approach to boost awareness, engagement and bookings. The paid ads approach was underpinned by our strategy and acted as the rocketship to get LA VELA’s content in front of the right audiences.

 

Why was this overall approach so effective for the hotel? We’ve learned a thing or two from successfully investing over $1.4 million USD in under 12 months on Facebook.

Results

You can see from the Google Trends report below that worldwide interest has steadily increased over time for LA VELA KHAO LAK, especially since we took over their Facebook marketing in August:

 

Within only 12 weeks of work we were able to:

  • %67 increase in sales in the first 12 weeks of our campaigns vs the previous 12 weeks of campaigns run by the in-house team (they got excellent results in those 12 weeks)
  • 11X ROI when calculating our service fee & ad spend budget for the 12 weeks
  • %2136 increase in sales in the first month of our campaigns vs the previous month where LA VELA did not run any marketing campaigns
  • Most engaging hotel page in Thailand, 49th most engaging hotel page worldwide
  • %46 increase in page likes
  • +7 million impressions
  • +80,000 interactions
  • %37.9 increase in new reviews on Facebook
  • 36 positive reviews for every 1 negative review on Facebook
  • %60 increase in new reviews on Tripadvisor
  • 16 positive reviews for every 1 negative review on TripAdvisor

Very soon after we started working with North Star Digital, LA VELA’s Facebook marketing became the talk of the town among fellow hotel owners and the business community in the Khao Lak area and beyond.

Bheerapong Dowpiset - Owner - LA VELA KHAO LAK
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The Future

LA VELA KHAO LAK has huge potential for growth online, and for promoting the Khao Lak area as a must visit destination in Southern Thailand. The main challenge is to grow awareness of this unique hotel in order to produce loyal guests who return year on year to La Vela’s sublime piece of paradise. 

For us, we look forward to executing and improving our repeatable process for deploying Facebook marketing efforts that drive LA VELA’s awareness, engagement and bookings.

If you have a property that’s doing most everything right but needs to take your social media to the next level, we at LA VELA highly recommend North Star Digital’s program. It’s simple to integrate into your daily operation and the results are phenomenal! The ROI is the best we’ve seen in years of being in the hotel industry with everything else a distant second.

Paphaporn Puthamart - Marketing Communications Manager - LA VELA KHAO LAK