Know What Your Customer Wants Before They Ask: Spicers Retreats’ Marketing Director

Know What Your Customer Wants Before They Ask: Spicers Retreats’ Marketing Director

Spicers Retreats launched in 2010, and now boasts eight high-end luxury lodges in Australia. But how does yet another luxury retreat stay competitive in the cluttered travel market? B&T caught up with director of sales and marketing, Luke Neale, to uncover their marketing secrets.

Hannah Edensor
Posted by Hannah Edensor

“We have a different marketing strategy depending on the market we’re trying to target,” Neale told B&T. “Our primary target are couples, but we also have conferences during mid-week, as well as international visitors.

“With over 60s market, for example, we use print, direct mail, and regional TV. We plan on having more traditional media next year when we have more budget. But you can’t just rely on that.

“Our strategy for the first few years was largely above the line advertising to get the brand out, but we’ve since grown in our understanding of who our target market is.”

As a result, Neale shared that 42 per cent of the retreat’s marketing is now channelled into digital and social platforms.

“We have a healthy budget, but it’s not what some of our competitors have,” he explained. “So we really need to know that what we’re spending is getting people on the website and getting bookings, so we’re really honing in on our digital strategy.”

While digital once occupied just one staffer’s attention, Spicers Retreats now has between three and four specialist agencies pitching in on the digital front, including a Facebook specialist, data and Google analytics specialists, and a media buying agency that focuses on social.

“It means we get a bigger bang for our buck,” Neale said. “We’re not a retail brand; people don’t see an ad then jump online straight away to respond.

“It costs between $300 and $1000 for a night at one of our retreat,” he added, meaning customers aren’t making any rash, impulse decisions when it comes to spending a night with Spicers.

Neale and his team at Spicers Retreats use Salesforce technology to help gain a clearer understanding of what their customer profiles look like, in order to make their experiences more personal.

Speaking about the Marketing Cloud technology, Neale said it “fitted a need for us”.

“We’d been discussing how better to know our guests and their needs. When you’re a high-end, experiential brand, you need to know what a guest wants before they’ve even asked.

For Spicers, this involved gathering immense amounts of data on guests, from where they’ve stayed before to whether they’re a coffee or a tea drinker.

“It’s an ongoing relationship,” Neale explained, citing a need for communication prior to and following on from a stay at their Retreat, as well as during.

“We want to give value to their life outside of Spicers to ensure they want to come back,” he said. “And the Marketing Cloud allows us to communicate with guests more personally and dynamically than ever before.

“We know our guests love our brand when they stay, and after a few stays with us they want us to know more about them.”

Neale explained guests today expect their trusted brands to know their names, drink choices, and intricate preferences so that when they return, they don’t need to communicate this and it becomes a seamless part of the experience.

Salesforce’s Marketing Cloud also allows Spicers Retreats to tailor their messages to customers, delivering them in more relevant mediums.

“If we can see that a customer hasn’t opened an edm, then we can try sending them an SMS to engage with them, or try delivering personal mail to their letterbox,” Neale said.

“The transparency afforded with our guests means we’re not sending out blanket communications.”

The technology enables the marketing team to decipher how to engage other like-minded travellers based on customer data, such as what areas they live in and what media they’re looking at.

“We need to create relationships with our guests,” he said. “It’s not just about ‘book in, stay, leave’, it’s about getting an experience that’s totally personalised to them. And we haven’t found any technology that works this well.

“We want our customers to stay loyal to our relationship with them, and to know that their stays and their previous history means something to us.”