Stronger Storytelling Boosts Bookings At Gerald’s Vineyard Resort


  • 82x ROI in the first 3 months
  • 2x YOY increase in website booking revenue
  • 127 event inquiries in the first 3 months

Gerald’s story
Balgownie Estate Vineyard Resort & Spa is located in the Yarra Valley, 50 minutes from Melbourne in southeast Australia. The property features guest suites, a conference center, a restaurant, a spa, a cellar door, and more. Gerald has been managing Balgownie for three and a half years as General Manager and handles all of Balgownie’s digital marketing. With a strong background in digital marketing and managing online presence, Gerald understands what he wants from a technology vendor—and he wasn’t getting what he wanted.

“Ensuring that the customer is continually booking and able to spend money with us to get an ROI has been magnificent”
– Gerald Ackroyd, General Manager

The Challenge
Balgownie Estate faced two sets of issues with their previous website. First, Balgownie’s website was designed around the wine industry with a focus on selling the story and picture of the winery, as well as the wine itself. With so much attention dedicated to the winery, however, the accommodation never got to shine online. Since there was never a push for a standalone hotel website, customers could never associate what they saw with a four-and-a-half-star boutique resort.

On top of awareness issues, usability problems added to Balgownie’s difficulties. They hired an agency to build their previous website, which the agency built on the Joomla open-source platform. Using this system proved difficult and complicated for the basic user and making changes required FTP uploads and an understanding of Joomla and other formats and updates such as K2, enough to make a beginning user’s head spin. Plus, they only had basic analytics and had to go through the agency to get analytics reports. While the site had been performing ok for the winery, it was an expensive project that didn’t cut it for their accommodation.

Balgownie homepage iphone
Our solution
As an experienced digital marketer, Gerald had a clear vision of what he wanted for Balgownie’s accommodation website. First, he wanted a website that looked and felt like a hotelling website. Second, he wanted a template format that could express the Balgownie identity and gave guests an opportunity to book at every turn and was able to present information in a clear and precise way. Third, he wanted a responsive design so that the website displayed properly on all devices. Finally, he wanted to be able to track and trace inquiries.

Our product met all of his requirements with a few positive surprises.

An added bonus of using our platform is the booking engine. Previously, Gerald had to pay monthly fees to use his booking engine, channel manager, and other vendors, but with us, he has been able to integrate a booking engine that is easy to update and makes guests feel like they are still on the hotel’s website.

Another positive surprise has been Balgownie’s performance on search engines. Since joining, Balgownie Estate has jumped to the third organic spot on Google for “weddings Yarra Valley” from the sixth page before joining. Even better, for “cellar doors Yarra Valley” they rank second organically, above the largest wine producer for the area, which led Gerald to say “I’ve never been involved in a system that has made SEO A) free and B) so effective.”

balgownie homepage imac

What’s more, Gerald has had a great experience with his Account Manager, the wonderful Roberto. According to Gerald, Roberto has gone out of his way to help and has made the client roll out simple and kept it from getting too technical to get Balgownie up and running.

Gerald’s interactions with the rest of the customer support team have been consistently top-drawer as well, as the Customer Support team has not only made changes efficiently and always resolved problems, but proactively contacted him as a consumer and escalated questions they did not have the answers to as well. As Gerald said, “I want to know a company’s interested in my ongoing success as a business.”

As a property in Australia, dealing with a vendor in Seattle across a significant time difference has been challenging, but as Gerald said, “If that’s the biggest problem, it’s not a problem at all, really.”

The numbers agree with Gerald. His average monthly booking revenue from Balgownie’s website has doubled, giving them an ROI over 82. This means that for every dollar spent, they have earned 82 dollars and change in bookings. Plus, in the three months since the site went live, Balgownie has received 127 inquiries for conferences, weddings, and private events, which have converted at high rates.

About Connor Harle

Marketing Specialist Connor Harle is responsible for writing web content, analyzing traffic, helping with lead generation, and whatever else comes up.

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