320 Guest Ranch has a long history—dating back to 1898 when it was originally a mere 160-acre homestead. A few years later, and acquiring an adjacent 160 acres, and 320 Ranch began to take shape. In 1936, Dr. Caroline McGill—Montana’s first woman doctor—purchased the property and lead fishing, hunting, and hiking expeditions across it. Over the past 110 years, the original plot has been reshaped into one of Montana’s premier properties: 320 Guest Ranch.
Big Challenges in Big Sky
320 Guest Ranch’s unique history and prime location in Big Sky, Montana means that competition with other ranches isn’t their biggest hurdle. Rather, it’s controlling their messaging. Carla Rey, Hotel Manager of 320 Guest Ranch, comments, “We operate more like a resort, though we are definitely not a resort—we’re a ranch with different cabin types. There is no swimming pool or spa, but when people hear the word “ranch,” they have a million different pictures in their minds.”
Not only do their amenities seem to get lost in translation, so too does their location. Rey notes, “Our location is tricky too. Yellowstone is large and has five entrances. People think it’s like five gates in a row, but one gate is five hours away. Making sure people understand where we are is really important. Other websites show direct distances but don’t explain that there are mountains in the way. So, we spend a lot of time managing expectations.”
Many of 320 Guest Ranch’s challenges stem from their reliance on third-party sites. They don’t own the relationship with bookings, and therefore, can’t control their messaging on those sites. Gaining control of their messaging, and their client information, was necessary to tackling their toughest challenges.
Setting the Tone & Expectations
It’s right there on the accommodations page: “These are not your ordinary hotel accommodations.” Instead, 320 Guest Ranch offers log cabins with fireplaces and wraparound porches. Rooms come complete with a “hearty breakfast” and the possibility of a nighttime pig roast.
While the messaging on 320 Guest Ranch’s website whets the appetite for adventure—and dinner—to come, when guests don’t book direct, they’re not getting the whole picture. 320 Guest Ranch then has to spend time managing guest expectations on their arrival, as opposed to setting them beforehand. In order to tackle this challenge, 320 Guest Ranch turned to Sojern.
Sojern creates custom ads for 320 Guest Ranch and using smart algorithms and trusted data partners, places the ads in front of guests in-market for their property. These ads drive guests directly to 320 Guest Ranch’s website. There, their messaging is thoughtful and within their control. Moreover, guests can get accurate and complete descriptions of the many amenities at the ranch.
Breaking out of the Box
“I’m constantly asking OTAs to make changes to our descriptions and they are difficult because I have to fit into their box,” notes Rey. With guests booking directly, Rey and her team can set expectations for the adventures in store for their guests from day one. By partnering with Sojern, and driving direct bookings to their website, 320 Guest Ranch communicates their uniqueness—to the delight of their guests.
If you’re interested in taking control of your messaging and guest expectations, connect with Sojern today and we’ll show you our risk-free, marketing solution for hoteliers to drive more direct bookings!