How a decline in footfall during the pandemic became the catalyst for reaching customers online
When Evangelia and Panagiotis started their family hotel business, 12 years ago in Nea Kalikratia, Halkidiki, there wasn’t much in the way of competition.
Developing a digital presence wasn’t something they thought of as a priority back in those days, instead focusing their attention on creating a home away from home for the travelers drifting through their idyllic stretch of the Greek coastline.
Over time however, things began to shift. Local competition increased and traveller behaviours and expectations changed. Suddenly building your digital presence became an essential part of the hotelier’s skillset.The lull caused by the pandemic, created a further inflection point.The pandemic was limiting travel across the globe — and renewing the focus on reassuring cautious customers via digital means, as well as enabling them to plan and book trips more easily from home.The Aqua Mare team used the dip in tourism as an opportunity to invest time in upgrading both their physical and digital infrastructure. They contacted our Online Advisors, a key partner of Google, who provide free training to help businesses improve their online presence. One of our Οnline Αdvisors coached them through the process of building a digital marketing plan and fleshing out their digital services, strengthening their ability to reach guests and take bookings online. Over the course of three online sessions, the Online Advisor was able to get close to the business, understand their set-up as a company, and offer advice on how to cater to their customer needs digitally and improve user experience. With the Online advisor's guidance, they set up a Google My Business profile, uploaded photographs to offer people a sense of the hotel’s ambience, created a virtual tour, integrated an online booking system on their website, and even added a chatbox, so that interested customers could open a personalised dialogue with hotel staff.
“Our clients loved the chat function because even though it was simple, it was direct, and they knew that they were talking to real people in real time.” - Evangelia
And, they didn’t stop there. The Advisor helped them to spread awareness on social media, with a combination of photo-strategy and influencer partnerships. As well as investing in targeted online advertising spaces in markets they were interested in, such as Bulgaria and Romania.
The response was immediate — driving more clients to the hotel’s website and converting those visits into bookings, with a 60% revenue increase in 2021 compared to previous year.
Evangelia explains: “Our meeting with the Google Online Advisor gave us a huge boost. Digital marketing has already become a vital part of our work as a hotel business going forward.”