Co-Founders Ben Elliott and Hector Hughes launched Unplugged in the summer of 2020, creating an idyllic cabin digital detox retreat just an hour from London. But unlike other rural escapes, Unplugged comes with a twist: guests hand over their phones and devices at check-in, immersing themselves instead in beautiful natural surroundings and fully switching off from the outside world.
Ben describes the origins of Unplugged:
“After feeling burnt out from work, Hector did a silent retreat in the Himalayas and got back feeling super recharged. We talked it over... and after initially thinking it wasn’t for me, I started to realise how much time I was spending on my devices. I considered the many people I’d worked with on startups who never took any true time off and an idea was born.”
Check out the video below to learn more about their story:
The concept is proving to be increasingly popular, however, Ben and Hector knew that a great concept alone wasn’t enough to succeed, especially when facing a pandemic. They had to be focused on their customers’ needs in order to generate sales and meet their main objective: 80% occupancy rate.
In their first year, Unplugged surpassed their goals, achieving 90% occupancy rates, with expansion plans already underway. Here’s how they did it.
Devising a killer strategy for launch
Launching with the right platform, built for experiences
Ben and Hector originally set up Unplugged on Wordpress with a booking system attached. But they found it too slow and clunky – website changes required a developer, which became too costly and time-consuming. In the end, they switched to Easol’s all-in-one platform. Ben explains:
“Easol has enabled us to build a much better looking website with a really great booking experience, allowing us to focus on the more important things such as actually making sure the guests have a great experience.”
It only took 5-6 days for Ben and Hector to launch their new website – from payment setup to site customisation. The results were a quick and seamless launch for Unplugged with a highly optimised booking journey for conversion.
For example, instead of a calendar that doesn’t create a sense of scarcity, Easol displays accommodations in blocks clearly marked with “Sold Out” or “X Cabins Left”. This prompts urgency has helped Unplugged convert potential customers into paying guests.
Winning customers with personalised recommendations
With their website looking great and well-optimised, Unplugged quickly shifted their focus to increasing conversions.
For this, their favourite platform feature is “recommendations”. These are pre-built baskets that allow you to save a particular experience or accommodation for a potential guest and add a personalised note. They are similar to custom quotes, except they’re much faster to make, as they’re integrated with the experience products on your CMS. Plus, it’s connected to your booking engine to encourage direct bookings.
Recommendations can be sent as a link or embedded in an email, allowing your potential customer to review the quote and purchase in one seamless step.
“[Recommendations] really helps us to increase the number of bookings we get from our enquiries because they’re personalised. We actually convert 75% of people that we send a recommendation to.”
Boosting customer confidence with flexible payment terms
To combat unpredictable pandemic restrictions, Ben and Hector have given their customers as much flexibility as possible when booking their stay at Unplugged.
“We hope that customers reschedule rather than cancel and – on the whole – people have done just that, which is great. We’ve always given people flexibility to cancel and we don’t charge people to cancel – we felt that giving more at this stage will reward more in the longer term.”
With Easol, Unplugged can also enable customers to pay a deposit when booking as opposed to paying for 100% of their experience upfront. This has helped ease any potential customers’ concerns, without sacrificing cash flow for the business.
Turn pent-up demand for experiences into sales
What Unplugged shows us is that experience creators don’t need to wait around (not even for a pandemic) to successfully sell experiences. Their strategy combining a beautiful, well-optimised website, personalised quotes, and flexible payment is a surefire way to launch and grow an experience business.
Want to learn more? Book a demo today and see how Easol works to accelerate your experience business growth.
Chief Creative Officer