And then the world came to a halt…
The hospitality industry was severely affected by the COVID pandemic. Western Playland, an amusement park located in New Mexico, and one of our customers was no exception. After starting their 2020 season during the second half of February 2020, they were forced to shut down by the government of New Mexico. What initially seemed like a temporary shutdown turned out to be over a year.
While there was a lot of uncertainty at the beginning of 2021 regarding the government restrictions, they were finally allowed to open their doors during the second half of March 2021, but it came with its own set of challenges and restrictions.
The government of New Mexico required that:
- They could only open at 20% capacity.
- Guests and employees had to wear face coverings.
Creating a Strategy to Overcome the Challenges.
Our challenge as their marketing agency was to restart the marketing machine and let people know that Western Playland was open for business after over a year of being closed while managing fear of COVID and getting people slowly getting used to being outside again. The first challenge we tackled was the 20% capacity. Western Playland had never had this type of challenge before. The main objective in previous years was to get as many people as possible inside the park, not just 20%.
After a couple of phone calls with the client and many changes in the government requirements, we set up a custom reservation system for the amusement park. The advantage of us developing this system as opposed to using something out of the box is that we would easily change and adapt to the state requirements, as they changed several times during the first four weeks since the park opened. We also saw this as an opportunity to generate more revenue for the park by charging a nominal fee per reservation. While the customer initially disliked the idea of charging per reservation, we were able to convince them with previous data from other projects where we noted that free reservations were as quickly forsaken; by adding a small cost, it made people think twice about not showing up for their reservation date.
The reservation system also allowed us to capture new email addresses for marketing purposes, growing our list by 963%.
Finding the right message.
The third challenge was to reactivate the brand on their marketing channels after a year hiatus. This required an aggressive positioning to let people know the park was open, but there were some changes and restrictions to follow. We started by implementing our “The Fun is Back” campaign announcing the park was open. With the help of illustrations and other graphical assets, we communicated to people about the new restrictions, such as reservations. As people became aware of the park’s reopening and the activity grew on social media, we also implemented a chatbot to be able to cope with the barrage of messages received through the website and social media, mainly through Facebook and Instagram. The chatbot was able to self-serve over six thousand customer inquiries.
The chatbot was able to self-serve over six thousand customer inquiries.
On the social media front, we were able to reach about 500,000 people, or about 50% of the El Paso Metro area population. We also achieved 5 million ad impressions with an $0.81 cost per click to a very targeted audience in the region, while our display ads were not tied to a specific conversion as it was mostly an awareness campaign we considered a great success as we were able to help Western Playland achieve its best season ever! Our client is so happy with the results of digital marketing that during the past few years it has been shifting its advertising budget from traditional media to almost 100% digital advertising.
We were able to reach over half a million unique people organically through our campaign.
Thanks to our custom-made reservation system, we were able to increase our mailing list size by almost 1000%
Our paid campaign had an even greater reach with a low CPM of 86 cents.
We produced over six figures of new income with a reservation fee.
The fun did come back. . .
The government restrictions finally eased in August 2021. By this time our custom developed system had received over 23,000 reservations that amounted to over six figures of new revenue The reservation system also allowed us to capture over new email addresses for marketing purposes, growing our list by 963%. It is hard for us not to take pride in our work when we see the power of digital marketing and its results despite the multiple challenges our client faced.
The fun is not only back but it also makes more people happy!