Dollywood is an attraction that means many different things to many different people.
The iconic destination is home to a theme park, waterpark, two dinner theatres, a luxury resort and spa, private cabins, festivals, shows and plenty of entertainment. It’s also popular amongst a wide range of visitors; from the elderly to children, and a wide range of markets; from the cities and towns that surround Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to the furthest reaches of the country and beyond.
Finding a better way to communicate the variety of experiences Dollywood offers
“There is so much to the overall experience – how do you communicate that?” asked Pete Owens, the Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations for The Dollywood Company. “It’s a rather competitive world for vacation dollars and time for families to visit. Cutting through that clutter in regard to what we have to offer compared with other parks is a challenge.”
Owens explains that not only is it difficult to sum up the experience to potential visitors in a concise manner, but that elevator pitch changes depending on the audience member.
This past spring Owens and his team turned to user-generated content, or the visuals their guests share on social media, in hopes of helping themselves stand out.
“The major change for us is how we look at our digital environments, both owned and in our social environments, when we present ourselves,” he said. “Now we’re presenting ourselves through the eyes of the consumer, rather than the way we see ourselves, and it’s a much more authentic view of who we are.”
User-generated visuals help Dollywood tell a more complete brand story
Over the summer Owens updated Dollywood.com to incorporate more social media photos on their website, through CrowdRiff galleries. He explains that the new photo galleries on their website are able to demonstrate the full range of experiences available, through the eyes of the visitors that enjoy them.
“What CrowdRiff has allowed us to do is find great images and great experiences from visitors that really illustrate the story we’re trying to tell,” he said, “and that helps us break through the clutter.”
“Instead of having two or three or four key marketing images that we’ve agreed to and people see over and over, it allows us to pull real images of real people to show what otherwise would look staged.”
Owens adds that he was originally interested in the platform for the Rights Management feature. “It really simplified what we would have or could have done ourselves,” he said. “To me, that was the deal closer on the platform.”
In addition to requesting rights to user-generated content regularly, Owens says he and his team have found other ways to improve the effectiveness of their marketing efforts using the platform. The variety of website gallery layouts, the number of different ways to source new UGC (via a combination of hashtags, locations, and usernames), and the way they’re now able to discover new imagery every day has changed the way the team works.
“We now have a much larger library of images that we can use,” Owen adds. “More than we would have had ourselves, and that provides more dynamic and fresher content.”
Within the first 5 months, the UGC galleries on the website drove $90,000 in ticket sales
Implementing more guest photos throughout their website dramatically increased website performance and conversions within the first 5 months of using CrowdRiff.
After using CrowdRiff to add a UGC gallery to the homepage, Dollywood.com saw engagement on the page increase by 25%. A UGC gallery also resulted in a 28% increase in engagement on the website’s waterpark page, and a 42% increase in views and interactions on the “Rides and Attractions” page.
The team at Dollywood uses CrowdRiff Calls-To-Action, which embed links over imagery that lead to the ticket sales page.
“Just from our home gallery, clicks converted to nearly 100 transactions within a 60-day period that accounted for almost $30,000 in revenue,” said Owen. “It’s just by using UGC to push them further down the funnel more quickly.”
“That was surprising. Originally we anticipated [CrowdRiff] would be a successful way for us to showcase the brand, but I don’t think anybody really realized we’d be able to drive that kind of conversion – especially so immediately.”
Additionally, Dollywood puts a focus on delivering a mobile-friendly website experience, and notes that mobile conversions on these galleries come in at 1.52%, driving nearly 85% of the ticket sales that happen through CrowdRiff.
In the first 5 months, they have attributed $90,000 in ticket sales to CrowdRiff.
Next steps: finding more ways to put their guests front and center in their marketing
Though Dollywood has only been utilizing CrowdRiff for a few months Owens says the brand is already looking for ways to incorporate more user-generated content into its wider marketing strategy.
“I think we’ll explore the opportunity to see if we can use it in other channels to try and obtain the same benefits we’re seeing in the digital space, just by showing real people doing real things,” he said.
Header image courtesy of Dollywood.