Marketing Through The Shutdown

Reaching new audiences & surpassing sales expectations

The Challenge

Marketing for a hospitality client during the national pandemic.

The Solution

Targeting a very specific audience with a careful message.

The Result

Record-setting engagement and sales.

Customer Profile

Serenity Springs is a romantic couple’s retreat located near the Indiana Dunes National Park in Northwest Indiana.

The 85 acre retreat features 31 private cabins. Each cabin includes a king sized bed, whirlpool tub, fireplace, kitchenette, porch with a fire pit, unique decor theme and a view of the water. Select cabins include deluxe features like a loft space and massage chairs.

A one night stay in a standard cabin starts at $239 for reservations Sunday – Thursday. Reservations for Friday or Saturday night start at $299.

, Marketing Through The Shutdown

The Challenge

On March 16th, schools and businesses in the region began to close due to COVID-19. Shortly thereafter, on March 23,2020 Indiana was under a stay-at-home order by the governor. As a result, the pandemic uncertainty caused the largest decline in travel in modern history.

Deemed an essential business, Serenity Springs was able to remain open. As a small family-owned business with fewer than ten employees, Serenity Springs had the flexibility to adjust business practices and support social distancing protocols.

  • Contactless customer-service was already built into the business model to allow privacy.
  • Each cabin’s unique built-in butler’s box allowed guests to receive meals & more without direct staff interaction.
  • Once guests were directed into their private cabin, they did not have to interact with anyone else during their stay.

Solution 1: March Campaign

Swift marketing adjustments were required to adjust to the new normal. The Barbauld Agency developed a “Yes, We’re Open” social media campaign that focused on Serenity Spring’s unique accommodations which allowed visitors to enjoy their experience while maintaining proper distance from others.

Social media ads in Chicago and Indianapolis targeted adults in committed relationships. The campaign aimed at couples without children believing they would have more flexibility to visit Serenity Springs during the quarantine period.

, Marketing Through The Shutdown
, Marketing Through The Shutdown

The Result

March campaign results:

  • Clicks to website: 16,105
  • Reach: 290,000
  • CPC: $.11
  • CPM: $1.64

In the first 6 days of “Yes, We’re Open”:

  • Website visits: up 53%
  • Clicks on Facebook ad: up 467%
  • Link clicks to website: up 263%
  • Page likes: up 256%
  • Engagement: up 341%

Solution 2: April Campaign

The social media campaign in April shifted to “Buy One Night, Get One Night Free” for reservations Sunday through Thursday in April. The Facebook campaign had two ad sets. The first re-targeted page fans and website visitors to leverage the incredible audience growth in March. The second targeted a lookalike audience of page fans and website visitors to find new potential customers.

, Marketing Through The Shutdown
, Marketing Through The Shutdown

The Result

The campaign ran from April 2 – 15. Key results include:

  • Clicks to website: 4,889
  • Reach: 99,870
  • CPC: $.18
  • CPM: $2.83

The campaign ended on April 15th when Serenity Springs sold out all cabins for reservations Sunday through Thursday for the month of April.


Even under normal circumstances, the results of the March and April social media campaigns would be impressive. Under the current conditions, the results of the March and April social media campaigns were incredible.

During a national pandemic we successfully demonstrated that Serenity Springs could continue to cater to customers while providing safe accommodations. The response from customers was overwhelmingly positive.