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Web Marketing Case Study: Smartphone Utilization

An effective use of web marketing, specifically smartphone applications, is demonstrated by the MacCallum House Inn and Restaurant in Mendocino Village. Situated about three hours north of San Francisco, the MacCallum House serves tourists traveling to the northern California wine country coast. Although primarily serving consumers for lodging and dining, the inn also has B2B customers such as vendors of wedding services and business seminars.

As a hospitality and tourism destination, MacCallum House went online early. Its PR agency, Hoi Moon Marketing, originally built the restaurant website in the 1990s, before the restaurant and hotel merged in 2002. Since then, the agency has helped the inn transition into using social media and new technologies. In January 2011, the firm created an optimized mobile site for smartphones.

Jude Lutge, the PR director of MacCallum House and the cofounder of Hoi Moon Marketing with Julie Vetter, explains that the goal of the mobile site is to ensure that the business is accessible by using whatever devices its customers use.

With a target audience composed of the digitally connected crowd from San Francisco and Silicon Valley visiting Mendocino on weekend getaways, Lutge says, “We do not [want to] lose potential visitors who are trying to find lodging or dining in our area from their mobile phones.”

Using the mobile site, users simply press a button to call the inn, read restaurant menus, see room photos, send e-mail, connect to the inn’s Facebook page, or request a reservation for dinner or lodging. Because staff members field these requests, they have an easy way to measure the number of sales made from the mobile site.

Because web developer Nile Sprague set up MacCallum’s .mobi site via the mobile site provider GoMobi, it works on all phone platforms. A business owner with no programming knowledge can set up a basic GoMobi site, however, says Lutge. She suggests sticking with “a simple solution like GoMobi or good XHTML coding rather than trying to produce something for all devices“.

Code on the inn’s primary website automatically sends mobile devices to the .mobi site. The link even helps with SEO for the mobile site.

Vetter, of Hoi Moon Marketing, has been watching the development of mobile advertising and promotional campaigns. Hoi Moon will likely include mobile ads in the inn’s campaigns when it sees a feasible solution.

For now, the agency is confident that its Twitter and Facebook efforts reach many of the inn’s mobile users. It uses Wildfire Promotions Builder on Facebook and Twitter, and it uses HootSuite to schedule and monitor social networks. For visibility, the inn runs Google AdWords (PPC); Facebook ads haven’t yet been as effective. So far, Vetter hasn’t tried text or SMS campaigns.

Lutge adds that the most important tasks are to focus on making your brand visible and engage authentically with your customers wherever they are. “Don't let social media turn into a customer service reaction tool; be proactive.”

Following are the URLs for the MacCallum House Inn:

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