The Coachella Valley and Indian Wells are home to some of the best tennis tournaments and music festivals in the States. Part of greater Palm Springs, the area is also home to some legendary resorts that have been around since the golden age of Hollywood. I was engaged recently (pre-Covid) to help re-launch one of these SoCal treasures, following a massive renovation project.

This icon was well on its way to completing construction when I was brought on board. The indoor and outdoor event spaces were complete, as was a portion of the accommodations. In addition, the resort’s owners were renovating all of the property’s Food and Beverage outlets – both in design and menus/concepts – to appeal to a more sophisticated traveler. But the showstopper putting the project over the top was the addition of two dueling water slides – the tallest in the area – and a lazy river to an already impressive pool area located in the heart of the property.

Known primarily as a resort for groups and meetings business, ownership wanted the resort repositioned to not only be ideal for meetings and events, but also now be hailed as the destination’s premier resort for a more affluent leisure traveler with the goals of not only driving higher ADR in the high season as well as shoulder season weekends, but providing for revenue opportunity for the summer low season as well.

In order to do so, I worked with Regional Field Marketing as well as the property team to develop and a blueprint for the re-launch. The plan I developed included:

  • Defining the resort’s new positioning statement and unique selling points
  • Defining the marketing objectives, strategies and tactics for re-launch among all its external audiences (both leisure and group)
  • Developing a plan for internal communication to resort associates and the larger, worldwide brand team
  • Developing the timeline and budget for launch, knowing that construction had been delayed significantly already on the new water park feature, and would likely continue into the resort’s high leisure season. Therefore, a contingency timeline and messaging were built in, including scheduling photo shoots, press releases, FAMS, digital media and website, and social media initiatives.

As part of the scope of the project, I also:

  • Developed the shot list for new F&B offerings, hired the photographer, was onsite to provide guidance and oversight during the shoot
  • Reviewed new video and image assets for shoots that pre-dated our project to provide thoughts on selects and enhancements needed
  • Worked with the Sales and Revenue Management team on outstanding facility shots that needed to be acquired to showcase the renovations
  • Worked with the resort’s PR team on the PR and social influencer plan to announce the launch
  • Developed protocols for the PR and social media teams in working together to optimize both PR and social opportunities when property media tours were taking place, media was onsite, etc.
  • Provided content ideas, images and videos for the social media team
  • Worked with the regional digital team on prospecting ad initiatives new audiences

Along the way, construction delays meant delays to timelines for implementation of specific pieces of the plan – and opportunity to drive higher ADR for the season. So in addition to the original scope, I stepped in to help the property drive immediate revenue, including:

  • Assisted in the development of group collateral and Cvent optimization for a new group offer to drive 2020 revenue and worked with agencies and the home office sales team to promote it
  • Made updates across the property’s website in creative assets and copy that told the story of the newly renovated spaces as they were being completed and ensured the leisure offer was prominent on the website
  • Developed content for eblasts for the upcoming quarter (and contingency copy if needed due to construction delays) and worked with the property team and home office to get the first of these deployed to drive Q1 leisure revenue
  • Worked with the Palm Springs CVB to update the property’s listing with new images and leisure offer as well as other online third party listings

As I began implementation of the plan, the project was extended to also assist in onboarding the new Marketing Director for the resort, ensuring she knew the plan and her resources to implement it.

This project took us into the end of February, where I was scheduled to head to Cabo to start our next project. Of course, you know what happened next. The industry was brought to its knees.

So I sat. I waited. I wrote. I contributed to podcasts and virtual conferences.

And like all of you, I keep checking in on friends and family, I contemplate what the world will look like on the other side of it all, and we do our part in staying home, waiting until we can all travel again.