Travel seemingly stopped overnight amid COVID-19 as the severity of a global pandemic came to light. From the largest cities to the smallest towns, people began to shelter in place. Discretionary spending was halted, and any planned travel was put on hold.
The question “when will people travel again?” began surfacing nearly as quickly as the shelter in place orders where put in place. As the pandemic evolved, the question of “how to return travelers?” quickly followed. Governments and businesses enacted policies and safety standards and began focusing on “how” to message and promote return visitation. The Ripe platform became part of the answer for Vancouver, BC.
Stay Vancouver Hotels Story, & COVID Recovery With Ripe
Since 2017, StayVancouverHotels.com – the Downtown Alliance Destination Marketing Organization – has sent millions in commission-free, off-season room nights to its hotel members utilizing the Ripe platform, and saving them over $1M in traditional Online Travel Agency fees in the process. The Association’s goal with Ripe has always been to stimulate off-season demand and drive local economic generation by bundling high-value items with hotel reservations (namely gift cards and exclusive access to local attractions).
Amid COVID, they began to question if they could use the same strategy to return overnight visitors during the now defunct “busy season.” “Will people be willing to travel, will the same incentive drive overnight stays during a pandemic, and can we safely promote travel?” they asked. A decision was made that the only way to know is to try.
On June 6, 2020, StayVancouverHotels.com launched a Visa gift card email campaign to its past guest database, which offered a $50 – $150 gift card with each lodging reservations on the Ripe booking engine. “We really didn’t know what would happen,” says Dipik Rai of StayVancouverHotels.com. The first 24 hours of the promotion answered that question with over 6,200 site visitors, hundreds of reservations, and an unheard-of 13.5% conversion rate! The campaign ran for one month and resulted in thousands of reservations and nearly 10,000 room nights! Reservation check-in dates were as early as the next day to as far out as the end of 2020. Success!
StayVancouverHotels.com was thrilled with the outcome of the first campaign, and based on that success has continued with new promotions. The Association has partnered with local businesses and attractions to bundle with lodging reservations. The StayVancouverHotels.com booking engine continues to see production daily, sending its hotel members desirable commission-free reservations and driving local economic generation.