— Tell us how your business got started.
Well, I can't claim that the idea of opening a hotel in a resort city where there is already a vacation retreat, health spa, or hotel on every corner is particularly original. But the newest Cruise is not just another hotel: after we opened our first hotel, we set our sights on creating a place where the level of service would be on par with what one finds in hotels abroad. Anapa has a lot of advantages, and if we can compete with foreign businesses, we can attract a higher-paying clientele. That was our main impetus when we were designing our second hotel, the Grand Cruise. We dove in to the project with enthusiasm, designing new room types, rooms for children, a large pool, and animated elements. Now that we've opened our third hotel, La Meliya, we think that we've finally managed to dispel Soviet-era stereotypes about "typical Anapa service".
— How many months is your season? When do you have to start advertising to ensure high occupancy rates during the summer?
The resort season lasts from May through September, five months. People start planning their summer vacation and looking for places to stay after the New Years holidays, though. So our low season, when we advertise in "background mode", lasts from October through December. From February on we are already advertising full out. Interest peaks in April and May; our advertising budget and marketing resources are at their maximum during this period. Those are the months when we have to get as many reservations and deposits in as possible. The cancellation rate can be high when reservations are pouring in. Sometimes guests reserve rooms at different hotels and settle on one when they have to pay a deposit. If we take in advance bookings, we can encourage guests to act promptly by offering discounts and bonuses. Typically, 90% of guests will stay with us if they paid a deposit.
— What important information did you discover about your target audience? Where do your guests typically come from? What tactics work with potential clients and which ones have proven ineffective?
Anapa is a family resort city. Our target audience is families with kids who have a budget of about 40-50 thousand rubles per person for a 10-day stay. We focus on their comfort: the children's wants and needs are just as important as the adults. The majority of our guests come from Moscow, Saint Petersburg and central Russia. We set our sights on repeat business and attempt to hold our customers' attention by informing them of new developments and special offers in our email newsletters and SMS's. All in all, a third of our families come back the following year and we are, of course, always happy to see them!
— Tell us about your ad strategy: at what point in your company's development did you turn to the internet, and how effective did that decision prove to be? Was Yandex.Direct the first internet service that you tried?
— What Direct tools did you end up using all the time and which ones did you use for particular situations?
Normally, standard campaigns work well enough to fill up our hotel rooms, but if we need to get more click-throughs, we run additional campaigns during promotional events. For example, we offer a discount to customers who make a deposit before a certain date. These type of campaigns typically yield a higher conversion rate: people see an attractive offer that is only running until a certain date and are quicker to make their decision.