If you travel along the N3, from either Durban or Jozi, and take the Winterton off-ramp, you’ll find yourself about 40 minutes away from Champagne Castle Hotel. Not to be confused by a resort with a similar name, in the Champagne Valley with a golf course. Champagne Castle Hotel is 8km further on the R600 snuggly nestled up against the foot of Champagne Castle and Cathkin Peak (two of South Africa’s most beautiful mountains). The Hotel is run by Georges and Teresa Romarin, a couple with years of Hotel experience attached to incredible stories from Belgium all the way down through Africa.

champagne castle hotel tripadvisor traveller's choice #travellerschoice drakensberg calidascope catri barrie digital

We (Calidascope) started working with Champagne Castle Hotel around 14 months ago. Our brief was simple….

help to integrate their digital properties into the Hotel strategy in order to achieve the objectives that had been set for the hotel

We didn’t have digital goals, per se. We had to take everything that was digital and make sure it was delivering towards the goals of the hotel.

Our philosophy at Calidascope has, right from our beginning, been that digital is not an ‘add-on’ to the main activities of any organisation. Digital (in it’s broadest sense) is an integral delivery mechanism of the bigger strategy, and must be treated that way. This has been how we measure whether we’re going to work with an organisation. We’re either an integrated part of the larger team, working towards the larger goals, or we’re not the right people to do what you’re looking for. There are plenty of great companies who will just run your digital properties as a stand alone, but we’re not one of those companies.

There are a couple of important ‘dials’ that must be watched in the Hotel Industry, and certainly one of the most important indicators to assess how you’re doing, is TripAdvisor. From their ‘About Us‘ page…

TripAdvisor┬« is the world’s largest travel site*, enabling travellers to plan and book the perfect trip. TripAdvisor offers advice from millions of travellers and a wide variety of travel choices and planning features with seamless links to booking tools that check hundreds of websites to find great hotel prices. TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, reaching 350 million unique monthly visitors**, and more than 290 million reviews and opinions covering more than 5.3 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The sites operate in 47 countries worldwide.

There are a large number of people who read TripAdvisor reviews before they book or visit somewhere. And while TripAdvisor has it’s critics, whether you like it or not, TripAdvisor has become one of the largest feedback mechanisms in the Hotel Industry.

Champagne Castle Hotel have a permanent agenda item in their daily Management Team meetings for TripAdvisor. While we can’t attend the majority of those meetings (it’s a 4 hour drive) we’re constantly on the phone and email to talk through the feedback.

You can imagine the celebration then, when earlier last week, an email arrived from TripAdvisor to let Champagne Castle Hotel know that they were a 2016 Travellers’ Choice Winner. That’s no easy accomplishment. It puts them in the top 1% of TripAdvisor properties, and they’re now on the Top 25 Hotels in South Africa list.

Synergy

Over the last 14 months, the digital elements of the hotel have come a long way towards now being a core component of the Champagne Castle Hotel business. What was once seen as a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, a website and a TripAdvisor page, are now central, non-negotiable pieces of the larger puzzle. They’re no longer digital items that may or may not be important to have on the fringes of the hotel strategy. They’ve become a fully integrated part of the business.

While one can’t say that digital delivered this award (only a complete team pulling in the same direction can achieve this), the hotel would probably never have arrived here without digital. That, I guess, is what any business wants…. Synergy – the idea that the combined effect of the areas in your business is greater than the sum of their individual effects.

Well done to everyone at Champagne Castle Hotel, every person, and every piece. It’s a fantastic achievement.

Pulp Films┬áproduced this 1 min video, capturing what Champagne Castle Hotel is all about…┬áA Sense of Place