How to create your own glamping business PR strategy, with Megan Allen
Public relations is a very cost-effective and simple way of marketing your business. All you need to do is think hard about your target market and invest a little of your time.
While many people think PR starts and ends with media coverage and shy away from it, there are several simple things you can do to tell your story the way you want it to be told, without breaking the bank. After all, public relations is about building and maintaining a reputation and who is in a better position to control it than you?
One of the things I advise my clients to do before they start to put together a public relations strategy is to invest in some decent photography. Most places already have beautiful images of their accommodation, the site and the surrounding areas but what people really want to see is the experience.
Start by thinking about your target market – are they families, millennial couples, retirees? Then think about what would inspire them to book a holiday with you. In other words, tap into their emotions.
To generalise, families will most likely be inspired by images of other families having a happy holiday because that is what they are aspiring to. Couples might like to see a bottle of wine with two glasses in front of an open fire, and retirees could be looking for local dog walks with a decent pub en route.
The key thing is to make them aspire to the experience that you are offering them. After that you can work those images into all forms of marketing, not just your PR.
If you are on a tight budget, one way of getting hold of these images is to ask people who stay with you to share their experiences on social media and whether you can share them too. You might even like to create your own hashtag so that people who are looking at booking with you can see what other visitors have been up to during their stay.
Putting together a social media strategy
Love it or loathe it, social media is a fantastic way of telling your story to a captive audience, and as glamping and camping is such a picturesque past time, you should never be short of content.
Before the social revolution most businesses hid behind a website or an advertisement, but with the introduction of social media platforms the people behind the brands started emerging and visitors now expect to know as much about you as they do your site.
The introduction of Instagram stories (which can also be linked to your Facebook business page) means that you can keep your audience up to date with what is going on behind the scenes – the good, the bad and the ugly. I have even advised clients to show their cleaning routine and the eco products they use on their stories, as it’s the little things that can make the difference between someone choosing to book or not.
I always encourage my clients to at least have Facebook and Instagram feeds that they update regularly because they have such a visual impact. Pictures tell a thousand words and as I discussed above, emotive imagery is key to any PR strategy.
I also encourage them to manage their pages in house. As tempting as it is to outsource your social media management, more and more people are using social media as a customer service hotline and they expect responses straight away. They used to say that every missed phone call is a missed opportunity and the same now applies to social media. If you are able to get back to someone with an answer quickly then they will likely book with you and not move on to a competitor.
Keeping an eye on reviews
One of the downsides of social media is that, thanks to sites like TripAdvisor, everyone is a critic. The first thing to keep in mind is that everyone’s expectations and standards are different. The second is that people like to talk. Word of mouth marketing is such a powerful tool and can make or break your reputation. One visitor might be perfectly happy with their experience and leave a five star review, while another who has an identical stay might have been expecting the toilets to be closer and only give you three.
Again, it comes down to knowing your audience, pre-empting their expectations, communicating properly with them and ensuring they know exactly what they are going to get when they book. I’ll talk a bit more about that later in this article.
My advice when it comes to managing your PR is to keep on top of reviews on sites such as Google, TripAdvisor and Facebook and respond as quickly as you can – not just to the bad ones, but to the good ones as well. Address the issue (if there is one) and aim to take the conversation offline. Ask the customer to email you with any further queries and, once the issue is resolved, politely ask them if they will take their review down.
If you leave it too long to respond then it puts more wind in their sails and gives them extra time to tell people about their negative experiences with you.
Collaborating with other local businesses
Collaborations are a brilliant way of expanding your reach, creating a newsworthy story and increasing your visitor experience.
By teaming up with other local businesses, you are not only tapping into their market and helping to promote their services, you are supporting the local economy and offering something that your competitors might not be.
A great way of collaborating is by working with a nearby pub that you know does great food. Ask them if they will offer a discount to visitors staying with you if you promote them in your welcome pack. You could extend the idea to local attractions as well.
Alternatively, if you put together a gift basket for your visitors or have a small shop on site, stock products from local producers such as bottles of ale, meats and cakes, and ask the producers if they will stock a few of your leaflets in their shops.
Working with the local community is something that is often overlooked but it is just as important that local business owners and residents know what you do – you never know when they might need to recommend a place to stay nearby. Collaborating with other local businesses and supporting each other creates a wonderful community spirit – something that will come across to visitors.
Creating a first-class visitor experience
I have left visitor experience to last as it incorporates all the points above. The tourism industry is growing at a phenomenal rate and it is not always enough to just provide a field and some accommodation. People’s expectations of what glamping is has evolved as the industry has grown, and with the popularity of social media it is now the sites with the best visitor experiences that are steaming ahead.
As discussed above, PR is about building and maintaining a reputation and most of that is done through word of mouth and recommendations from other people. People buy from people, so by creating a unique experience that your visitors will tell their friends about, you are onto a winner.
Think back to those emotive images. They are all based around creating a great experience – whether it is a fun environment for families, a cosy space for couples or simply a brilliant welcome pack that has lots of great information and offers in it.
At the end of the day, you want your visitors to be sharing photos and videos with their friends and leaving you excellent reviews because they are your biggest PR asset and the way to do that is to offer everything that they expect of you and more.
Again, you can do this by pre-empting their expectations. Try recommending the accommodation closest to the toilets for families with small children or people with disabilities. As I mentioned above, it is the little things that can make all the difference.
About the Author
Megan Allen is the founder of Rural Roots Media and specialises in rural tourism PR. She runs an online course for small business owners who would like to manage their own PR. For more information visit www.rural-roots.co.uk or find her at the Glamping Show – stand 107.