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Customer Stories Behind the Scenes of Palmetto Dunes’ Impressive Success with Inntopia Marketing Cloud

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photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 Oct 23, 2020

Last month we shared a story about the incredible success that Palmetto Dunes has had since their move to Inntopia Marketing Cloud. One of the things that stood out to me was the role their Strategic Account Manager, Sophie Sunderland, played in their efforts. So I reached out to Sophie to get her perspective on the resort, their team, and their impressive results.

Gregg: Sophie, let’s start with Palmetto Dunes, tell me a little bit about that resort and how special of a place that is?

Sophie: Palmetto Dunes looks like an amazing golf and beach resort, located on Hilton Head Island, I just hope that I get to visit someday! They offer a ton of different amenities and have a bunch of unique activities all at the resort. Whether someone is interested in golf, tennis, pickleball or water sports, they seem to have it all. Not only does the destination look great but the team and systems they use are all phenomenal.

Gregg: So true; even a great resort doesn’t fill beds without a great marketing team behind the scenes. Talk a little bit about their team and why it was so fun to work with them.

Sophie: Palmetto Dunes has a small but great marketing team. I work almost exclusively with Erica Sheets. Erica is extremely knowledgeable about the resort, destination, and everything happening on Hilton Head Island. She is constantly bringing new ideas and looking at previous campaigns to find ways to improve upon them. I love that she isn’t shy about bringing up things she hasn’t tried to see if something works. You never really know if something will be successful until you try it, and Erica is always willing to try new things and look at different alternatives. 

Gregg: Talk about your role in all this. We sometimes talk about you and the other account managers’ approach being proactive and personal, or acting as a co-pilot, but what does that mean on a weekly or monthly basis when it comes to working with a resort like Palmetto Dunes?

Sophie: My role has really been a co-pilot in working with Erica. She has so many great ideas on her own. I am really there to help her utilize the system and find the best ways to implement her ideas or improve upon them and offer other ideas. I am never working on my own, it is a combined effort where we are both looking at projects and working to find the best solution or automation for every campaign.

Gregg: And speaking of projects, they had a ton right out of the gate. Walk me through what went live on Day 1 and what it took to get there?

Sophie: On day 1 we went live with around 35 different automations that were triggered by either transactional data from their PMS, data from other systems, website engagement, or welcome messages based on webforms or the API. Erica was very organized throughout the entire process so it was easy to go through the list and make sure that we had all queries and data for each of the automations. 

Although I’m sure it was a lot of work upfront, having this many automations at the start really allowed Erica to be able to immediately focus on other marketing campaigns and not worry about the content her guests were receiving. 

Gregg: That’s amazing. Who did what with all this?

Sophie: We started by splitting the work up, Erica completed and uploaded all of the templates and I worked on setting up the queries, automation groups and programs depending on the messaging. We tested all emails and queries prior to launch so all we needed to do was make everything live. It was a bit of a process but a smooth one thanks to how well Erica documented everything they needed.

Gregg: Erica has talked a lot about reporting and measuring and improving; what has been your focus and what have your efforts looked like since all these campaigns went live? 

Sophie: Erica consistently looks at reporting and metrics on a monthly basis and puts together an overall report to her team looking and analyzing these numbers. At the end of the summer we did a large report looking at how all of the automated messages performed over the summer. This was a great opportunity to find areas of improvement and see what messages performed the best and what could be updated. 

Gregg: What is it exactly that you’re searching for in these reports?

Sophie: In looking at those metrics we are specifically looking at the double opt-in rate of a few messages and how we can increase conversion. We are also looking for ways to increase engagement from those booking online. We are making tweaks to welcome messages, programs, and subject lines to increase conversion moving forward. We will test these in the off season and see what other improvements can be made.

Gregg: That diligence to keep close tabs on the numbers is really impressive. It’s rare among marketers.

Sophie: Exactly, not only does Erica want to jump in and utilize the system but she wants to report and look back so we know what was successful and what we should change in the future. It is great working with a team member who always is looking at the data and ways to improve and iterate.

Gregg: Anything other resorts should learn from Erica’s and Palmetto Dunes’ success and story?

Sophie: Spend time on automation. Erica spent a significant amount of time during onboarding getting all of their automation up and running. Now that they are, she is able to focus on other things like updates, one-off campaigns, reporting, and exploring different marketing strategies.

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