In 2018, Blackstone Group purchased Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu with big plans for a new five-star destination in Hawaii. The mid-market hotel wasn’t the main draw, it was location, location, location: Turtle Bay sits on prime seaside real estate in a surfing mecca, with five miles of beach and 20 miles of walking trails.
“Arguably the best piece of land in Hawaii,” says Robert Marusi, who has served as chief commercial officer for the revitalized Turtle Bay Resort since it reopened under Blackstone ownership in July 2021. Today, Turtle Bay has 410 renovated rooms in the main building, as well as a new category of rooms, the Ocean Bungalows, made up of 42 spacious private accommodations just a few steps from the water. The food and beverage program has been redesigned and there are new and renovated lobby and pool areas.
Along with the property renovation, Blackstone and partner Benchmark Resorts have brought in experienced leadership charged with overseeing the entire business strategy and guest experience. The updated brand and amenities demand higher service and demand higher rates. Marusi promotes this strategy, in addition to supervising everything commercial: Sales, Marketing, Revenue, Distribution, Public Relations and Communications.
“My job is to decide how we lean forward,” says Marusi. “Getting all of our departments and that entire business ecosystem talking to each other and fighting for the same causes.”
The challenge: create omnichannel sales and marketing strategies
Updating the brand and driving higher ADRs after the renewal required new marketing strategies. And, while the complex was closed during the ownership transition and renovations, leadership also had the ability to re-examine the company’s technology stack. They chose to start from scratch, putting the customer at the center of all decisions. In developing the right customer marketing, customer relationship, and customer experience strategies, Marusi was convinced early on that partnering with Salesforce would “take us to the promised land.”
“We wanted to go one step beyond CRM [Customer Relationship Management] – we wanted a CDP [Customer Data Platform] that gave us that 360-degree view of the customer, which we could use to ingest all of our data to target and retarget, and to effectively allocate our digital marketing spend to the channels that will bring us the most customers. and guests”, Marusi says.
In essence, delivering a personalized guest experience at every stage of the customer journey requires a centralized data strategy powered by a tightly integrated technology stack. A CDP organizes all the data collected from different sources, such as websites and social media, but also from outliers, and then uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to make sense of the data. It stores the data, maps it, and allows hotel marketers to apply rules to act on the data. You’ll also make ongoing, granular changes to those audiences, like updating a guest’s phone number and then sending profile information updates to subscribed systems.
“We needed to better understand our guests, understand their personalities and their tastes, and then develop relationships with them through omnichannel reach,” says Marusi. “Initially we targeted Salesforce’s core offerings: sales, marketing, and advertising clouds. From there, we began mapping our client’s journey and creating messaging, starting before arrival.
“Next, we asked ourselves, ‘How can we personalize these touchpoints with guests?’ So we installed Salesforce Marketing Cloud Customization to bring our marketing workflows into the Salesforce environment.”
The Solution: Turn to a Trusted Implementation Partner
For Marusi, creating a Salesforce interface and mapping data from each of the revenue streams at Turtle Bay on his own would have been costly and time consuming. Therefore, Turtle Bay turned to Hapi, a hotel data platform that connects hotel data with Salesforce, to accelerate implementation, including integration, testing, data mapping, and data quality.
“Salesforce has been an amazing partner, I think they’ve become the #1 CDP bar none, but I knew I needed an implementation partner because I couldn’t do it alone. With Hapi’s development support (they provided seamless integration with OPERA Cloud, our PMS), I was able to put our strategies on track,” he says. “Many people think that implementing Salesforce is a big push, but it’s not, if you have the right partners.”
Marusi says that one of the keys to adopting a fully personalized omnichannel marketing campaign for each guest was buy-in from his marketing team, who he credits as early adopters. “Now we better understand the guest segments we serve,” she says. “For example, a couple of our characters are ‘luxury nomads’ and ‘wave followers.’ Now I can send targeted and relevant messages to these groups.”
The Results: The Customer is at the Center
Marusi says Turtle Bay has successfully transitioned from a multi-channel marketing approach, targeting broadly and pushing many channels, to an omni-channel marketing approach, where everything revolves around one customer journey.
“The customer is in the middle. I just have to create the experiences, choose the driver, and then hit the road,” she says. “We are having incredible success. The thing with Salesforce is that while you’re putting in the effort, you’re also making money, from day one.”
Today, Turtle Bay is sending out very targeted communications, segmented by attributes like household income, geography, and demographics. For example, based on the type of room a customer booked, they will send follow-up offers for experiences that match that type of reservation. The most popular campaigns are based on health and wellness campaigns and surfing.
Centralizing data gives leadership the ability to better analyze non-core spend. They look at revenue contribution per guest and compare their direct channel guests to OTA guests, for example. They closely monitor website and booking engine conversion, enacting personalized retargeting campaigns for travelers who abandoned cart before booking. “Cart abandonment is working and it’s paying dividends,” says Marusi.
Marusi says it can analyze purchasing behavior and has been able to decrease the time and number of taps between the first time a traveler lands on the website and the booking. What was once 30 days and 14 touches has been reduced to 11 days and 7 touches, on average, due to more personalized communication, she says.
“We know you, and we know that if you come back within seven days, you’ll likely make a reservation,” says Marusi.
Turtle Bay will continue to rely on data science and is finding new ways to apply it to improve the business. Hawaii is a highly competitive market, and highly personalized omnichannel marketing is setting Turtle Bay apart.
“The smarter you are, the more you’re going to sweep the leg,” says Marusi.
Hapi is a disruptive cloud data center exposing hotel system transactional APIs and event streams at scale, designed to solve the data management challenges of the hospitality industry while addressing high integration costs. Developed by hotel technology innovators, the secure, scalable, cloud-based data transmission platform is based on an open model, adding multiple layers of encryption, authentication, and control. Hapi now services 5,500 hotels worldwide, including IHG Hotels & Resorts, Sonesta Hotels, Accor, Hyatt Hotels, Rosewood Hotels, Margaritaville and Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. In 2021, the company earned Hotel Tech Report’s Global Customer Care Certification, a seal of approval of its dedication to customer success. Visit Hapi at www.hapicloud.io.
Senior Vice President of Commercials
HAPI (Data Journey, LLC)