2023-2024

Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort Destination Bowood

We were tasked with using PR and influencer activity to raise the profile of Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort that sits in the heart of the 2,000-acre Bowood estate and includes a stately home and gardens.

Blessed with a diverse offering and plenty of things to attract visitors, Bowood’s only problem is its rural Wiltshire location means it’s off the beaten track. For people to enjoy what it has to offer then, they need to know it’s there, while also appreciating the distinct elements within its wider offering.

We were given the objective of raising Bowood’s profile, with an emphasis on driving traffic to the website and specific service pages (such as the hotel, spa and golf) to help drive direct bookings, as well as attracting visitors to the house and gardens.

The central crux was about putting Bowood in front of new audiences to make it a destination venue.

Solution

With a broad remit covering practically all aspects of its hospitality offering, we needed to look at the respective target markets to form a strategic approach.

Bowood’s hotel offering is primarily targeted at couples – aged from late twenties right up until retirement age. The spa’s target market was similar – looking to attract couples across the same broad age bracket, along with female friendship groups. Although the hotel can accommodate families, this wasn’t something Bowood wanted to focus on or highlight.

For the golf, the focus is across genders, targeting anyone from teenagers up to retirees who live within a commutable distance of the course with an interest in golf – as well as those seeking golfing weekend breaks.

Finally, for the house and gardens, the target was families looking for days out, supplemented by people with an interest in history and culture.

To reach all aspects, we formulated a wide-ranging comms plan that used a broad brush to touch upon each Bowood target market.

The bread and butter of hotel PR centres on press stay reviews, supplemented with natural news, as well as news fashioned through creativity where needed. Much of our approach had a crossover element, with hotel reviews also covering the spa and the golf, but we also focused activity on individual aspects too.

For instance, we proposed specific events to add a suitable news hook, such as offering Night Golf, a Salute the Sun event that allowed an early morning tee off time to coincide with the summer solstice (tapping into the popularity of Wiltshire’s nearby Stonehenge) and a greenkeepers’ revenge event. These were pushed to Bowood’s key local media. For golf breaks, recognising Scotland as the home of golf, we also looked to tap into the love of golf north of the border to position Bowood as the ideal spot for a golf break for a Scottish audience.

And, for the spa, we promoted specific packages such as ‘Twilight Spa’ and ‘Spa Gazing’ – which highlighted Bowood as an option for a rural spa retreat. While we also pushed an ‘eco-friendly February’ initiative where the hotel took extra steps to reduce carbon output, while involving guests who could win discounted F&B and stays by participating.

The tactics for the house and gardens centred on events and encouraging regular visits – so we looked to work closely with family and lifestyle influencers to highlight happenings such as its triathlon and half-term activities, as well as aspects such as its Halloween outdoor adventure cinema.

On top of the above, we seized on the hotel’s natural news, looking to ensure any genuinely newsworthy elements were trumpeted appropriately – whether that be relevant to the hotel, spa, golf or house and gardens.

Our hotel press stay approach saw us liaise with a broad spread of national media – from red tops to broadsheets to lifestyle magazines – organising a series of press stays throughout the year, while also keeping Bowood front of mind for any press roundups. We also liaised with golf magazines and other appropriate media, too.

Bowood’s naturally generated organic news was promoted wherever relevant – with these stories including VisitEngland and AA award wins, Good Spa Guide awards, South West Tourism awards and more (with our copy team contributing to the preparation of these submissions). This natural news was also supplemented with the more creative news hooks outlined above.

With the appearance of the gardens changing throughout the seasons, we also suggested offering season tickets to key influencers to encourage repeat visits, with a view to having their content highlight the wow factor of a quintessential English country estate at different times of the year.

Results

Across 2023 and early 2024, we achieved more than 150 pieces of press coverage spanning Bowood’s full offering.

Press stay activity saw journalists from a wide variety of publications stay at the hotel to conduct reviews including Conde Nast Traveller, The Times, OK! magazine, Hello magazine, Women’s Health, The Sunday Express and more. As well as local publications such as the Swindon Advertiser, Wiltshire Times, and the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald.

For a golf specific perspective, we arranged press stays with the likes of Golf Monthly, LeadingCourses.com and Today’s Golfer, while leading golf influencers Forebrothers also played the course. A highlight of our golf PR also saw a press stay with the Scottish Sun generate a rave review in print and online for its play and stay offering.

For the house and gardens, the season tickets were a great hit with South West-based lifestyle influencers such as Anya G. Rowe (8 separate visits), Laura Watson (6 separate visits) and Little Moments (5 separate visits) visiting on multiple occasions, while several others also attended and shared great content. Across their channels, the accumulated social content enjoyed more than 65,000 visible Instagram likes from more than half a million views.

Furthermore, we also arranged for Good Morning Britain to deliver the weather live from the gardens – with multiple segments broadcast across the show. This was supplemented by regular House and Gardens local coverage across the Gazette & Herald, Wiltshire Times, Swindon Advertiser, Devices Gazette & Herald, BBC Radio Wiltshire, New Valley News and Wiltshire Life.

Our activity generated significant upticks in web traffic with data showing unique visitors to Bowood’s homepage increased by 182% in 2023 compared against 2022. Similarly, the dedicated spa page saw a 176% increase in unique visitors, while the golf saw a 187% increase. The landing page for the house and gardens saw the most significant increase – with a 493% jump in unique visitors when compared against 2022. 

The campaign was shortlisted at a national level in the 2024 CIPR Excellence awards, and regionally in the PRCA Dare Awards for the South West, as well as in hospitality industry awards the HMA Hotel Marketing Awards.