Within the first 30 days of this rebrand strategy shift, we saw a 42% increase in social media followers and 80% increase in engagement.
Copal Tree Lodge has had a few different names over the 20+ years it’s been operating out of southern Belize. In 2017, it became Copal Tree Lodge, a Muy’Ono Resort. Previously, it has been a fly fishing lodge and an agricultural immersion center. With the rebrand of Copal Tree Lodge, the resort leaned into the luxurious jungle setting without losing its excellent fly fishing and agricultural tourism aspects. Muy’Ono Resorts is the largest collection of resorts in Belize, so it was a natural fit for this world-class resort.
Rebranding can be tricky, especially when it includes an entire name change. We wanted to make a splash with branding to attract new customers but also make sure we included past guests in the process. Luckily, the rebranding wasn’t due to any negative connotations with the brand, just necessary for legal purposes for the next phase of business growth.
The lodge had brand equity we did not want to lose. Multiple articles in high end travel publications, travel awards, and lodge profiles were valuable assets we wanted to build upon. Our goal was to increase loyalty by keeping past guests informed and excited by the changes and to increase brand awareness to new potential guests.
We took three months to fully implement the rebrand. We started by taking inventory of all digital assets. We prioritized the assets with the most impact and created a plan to launch the new branding simultaneously across multiple platforms and distribution channels. We reached out to journalists who had previously written articles with our old name, mapped URLs so that old links still took visitors to the correct content, and secured new usernames across channels.
It was very important to us to keep past and upcoming guests excited about and aware of the rebrand. The announcement of the new name was paired with an exclusive special offer, to ensure the news was met with enthusiasm. We introduced the new name to past and upcoming guests first via email, before the name was even publicly changed. We followed up with social posts describing the upcoming rebrand, then finally changed all the digital assets.
While digital is our expertise, this project spanned every part of the business. We worked hand in hand with on-site management to create a seamless transition. This included employee uniforms, merchandise, restaurant menus, in-room compendiums, adventure books, website, social media, brochures, OTAs, and every other external listing.
Within six months, we had created so much brand awareness that the resort was hitting full capacity regularly. For the first time in 17 years, the resort had a profitable year!
Not only did we successfully change the name and brand identity, we increased website visitors by 3x and room revenue by 40%. With more guests, we got more TripAdvisor reviews, increased social media followers, and tons of press coverage. Soon, we received accolades for best honeymoon hotels, eco-resorts, and agricultural destinations.
Now that we had a strong new brand, we transitioned our efforts to highly-targeted digital advertising efforts. As a result, we were able to continue to increase revenue by capturing more direct business and paying less commission. So even though the resort was full, we could gain more dollars per guest by getting them to book direct on the resort website instead of a third party, like a travel agent or OTA.
Things were going incredibly well for a few years. Then, COVID-19 hit. Like all international travel businesses, Copal Tree Lodge had a rough year. While we had a minimal marketing budget to work with, we once again shifted our efforts and focused on organic social media and email marketing. Within the first 30 days of this strategy shift, we saw a 42% increase in social media followers and 80% increase in engagement. Not only were we reaching our loyal, past guests with these low-cost methods, but we were reaching new potential customers as well.
To this day, Copal Tree Lodge remains a top-performing resort in Belize. It’s an award-winning, world-class destination welcoming discerning travelers from around the globe.
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