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Great Wolf Takes 'Leap of Faith' with Social Media-Integrated Website

Great Wolf Resorts recently unveiled a new website for its Great Wolf Lodge brand of resorts that integrates social media and guest content. In a departure from most traditional consumer websites that display content written by copywriters, or provide staged static images, the new is an interactive, community-focused experience providing new resources which were grounded in user feedback, and designed to demonstrate the Great Wolf Lodge experience.
"One look at the interaction on the Great Wolf Lodge Facebook page said it all — our guests love our resorts, and their stories reveal unique perspectives told in ways we never could," says Nikki Donofrio, senior vice president of strategic brand marketing for Great Wolf Resorts. "Knowing that parents value the opinions of other parents above all others, we knew we needed to find a way to connect the two — to organize and amplify what was already being said."
The result was a new website with nearly 20 percent of its total content — a number which will grow as more content is added by guests — pulled from the company's Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as the company's Ask-A-Mom Panel — a group of 23 parent ambassadors who have stayed at various Great Wolf Lodge locations and answer questions online for potential guests. Content is then streamed real-time to the site's over one million unique monthly website visitors and displayed on each resort location's home page. The content is then sorted by keyword and distributed to each specific resort amenity page, making it relevant and helpful to what the user is reading.
"You could call it a leap of faith when you turn over control of your brand message —even more so when you provide a microphone and stage," continues Donofrio. "But it's a show of trust when our guests choose to spend their discretionary income and valuable time here, and we're returning the favor in-kind." She also notes that designated social media staff and proprietary software monitor the site for questionable posts, which can immediately be removed from the stream.
Guests are also encouraged to share their own content directly within the site — from asking questions, to posting photos, videos and reviews from their visits. That content is also organized and displayed in the same manner as content from social media channels.
The new site's architecture also lays the framework for interactive elements designed to bring the resort experience to life for potential guests considering a stay.
"First-time guests inevitably have a, 'Wow - I had no idea!' moment when they see the size and scope of the resort's amenities for the first time," she says. "We wanted 'wow-factor' content that was just as dynamic as the experience. Let the fun speak for itself."
Additional offerings
Other features of the new site include:
  • Interactive Waterpark Maps Turn: Guests can get a sense of all the amenities and attractions in the "Water Park & Entertainment" section with point-of-view videos of each waterslide, 360-degree photos of almost every location within the resorts, and postcard-worthy photos. Interactive waterpark maps are scheduled for later this year.
  • New Reservation Features: The site will display all rates for every suite type during a given time period. And the new "Flexible with your dates?" button will activate a rate calendar for the month — showing guests that a date shift by a day or two could help them save on their stay.
  • Within the next few months, visitors to the site will have the ability to update information within their guest profile, such as the capability to change or cancel a reservation, view customized offers, and save trip profiles. In addition, users will be able to create a "Virtual Vacation," starting with dates, and adding their favorite slides and activities. The Virtual Vacation will then be able to be shared with family and friends within their social media networks. Future updates will also include the ability to check-in online.
From its booking engine and streaming software, to its design and copy, the new site was built entirely by the company's internal team as part of its commitment to offering guests industry-leading technology. Earlier this summer, the new Great Wolf Connect was unveiled, and is currently being tested at Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound. Great Wolf Connect allows guests the option to link the radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in their waterpark wristbands with their Facebook accounts to automatically share photos from photo-friendly Paw Posts throughout the resort.
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