Liesbeth Konink

so many ideas, so little time

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La Grande Serve: how do we get the clients who really belong here?

La Grande Serve: how do we get the clients who really belong here?

When we emigrated from Holland to France 9 years ago, we wanted to create a place where we would spend our holiday ourselves. We loved to camp but as age progressed, our limbs protested heavily after sitting on the cold ground for a couple of hours, let alone after sleeping on a thin mattress. So we wanted to combine the feeling of camping with a good bed and a comfortable chair to sit in when it rained. 

Then I discovered Vardo van's or gypsy caravans as they are (mistakenly) called. Made of wood, very comfortably furnished, they ticked all the boxes. And, a big plus, in the overcrowded business of tourism in France, they were very rare.

After a lot of searching, we found our 'paradise' in La Chabanne, a village of 200 habitants, in the very unknown and therefore quiet Montagne Bourbonnaise in the midst of rural France. At the end of a dirt road, no neighbours, forest at the back and an breathtaking view over the mountains

 

We installed ourselves with 4 "roulottes" which we divided over our 2 hectares in such a way that everybody had the maximum privacy.

As we didn't organize anything for children, and gypsy vans are rather small, we wanted to attract couples or singles who looked for peace and quiet even in high season. But we were overthrown by reality.

When we moved to France, I started a blog to keep friends and family informed. I got more and more followers I didn't know. Gypsy vans were a relatively new phenomenon in the tourist industry  and so we were asked by magazines if they could write a article about us. From the articles, we got mentions in holiday guides and we received more and more demands from families. By chance, we could buy 2 more wagons and so we put 4 vans together (2x2) and kept 1 for couples. The sixth had to be completely renovated and we put it in our huge grange as a info centre/extra diningroom/playroom for children.

Our business was booming. Every year, we had some free articles in magazines and newspapers. Sometimes even without our knowledge. In October, we were already almost fully booked for next summer season. A very luxury postion. But our success also took a rather large toll on our daily happiness. The wagons need a tremendous amount of work, especially in our climate. Work that mainly was my job, since my husband also was and is a rather successful filmmaker. I got a frozen shoulder from all the physical hardships and we had more and more difficulties to do our work as we would like to do it. Also, as the business side was running rather on itself, my work consisted mainly of sanding, painting, repair wood and cleaning. Things I wasn’t happy to do solely, I felt like my brain was melting.

So 2 years ago, we sat down, had a long talk and both realized we weren’t happy anymore with the way we lived. We decided to sell two of our wagons and return to our initial plan: making a special holiday place for couples and solotravellers. Last year, I the midst of the crisis, we had our first year. We made our very moderate prognosis, but just. Our client segment has changed and so we have to change our marketing. Also, the market has changed because of the crisis and with it, marketingtools. For example, magazines will only place an article now if we pay an advertisement. So, we have the feeling we have to start from scratch. Hence this course

Your Business or Brand:

 

La Grande Serve is a small scale, authentic, laid back, stylish, creative vacation rental, for clients who want independence, privacy, inspiration, resourcing, tranquility and nature

 

 

 

11 Questions:

 

1.) What is Marketing for? What does this department/function/budget exist to do?

 

Connecting with (possible) clients in such a way that they buy

 

2.) What are we allowed to touch?

 

Everything, since we’re the owners

 

3.) What can we as marketers measure?

 

-how do people reach us

-which mean has the biggest revenue (blog, website, websites of 3rds, traditional media etc)

-which people contact us

-is this group consistent with the kind of clients we like

-are customers satisfied

-what do they find are the plusses of La Grande Serve

-what do they find are the negatives of La Grande Serve

 

 

4.) What can we change?

-the way and the means through we communicate with our clients

-the things our “tribe” doesn’t like

 

5.) What promise are you going to make?

 

That we do everything we can to make our claims true

 

6.) What’s the hard part?

 

-reach the right kind of clients, the people who really will like it here

-to make ourselves visible to them with our very limited budget

 

7.) Should your organization be making trends or following trends?

-neither: be a very early adoptor

 

8.) Where is the risk?

 

-our niche is too small

 

9.) Who is in charge?

 

My husband and I

 

10.) Marketers spend money. Where are you spending the money? What is it for?

 

-       google adwords

-       dedicated websites (eco/green)

-       blog

-       traditional: postcards, press info

-       member of the local tourist society

-       website

 

11.) How should you be spending your time?

 

- more blogging and the above (10)

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