A Long Term Partnership for Growth: Alaska Wildland Adventures

The Challenge

Alaska Wildland Adventures (AWA) is a well respected and experienced Kenai-based Alaska adventure operator and owner of three high-end wilderness lodges offering soft adventure rafting, fishing, wildlife viewing and hiking trips.

  • After operating a successful adventure business since 1977, AWA’s sales fell by 25% following the events of 9-11 and by early 2003, AWA Owner and President Kirk Hoessle knew that organic growth (“evolving naturally and logically”) was no longer a feasible strategy for AWA.

LeapUp Leaps In

  • AWA first hired LeapUp to facilitate a strategic planning offsite, architect a new marketing plan, coach and mentor staff in action plan formulation and implementation and ongoing resource for fine-tuning specific creative, programs and partner relationships.
  • The LeapUp Marketing Solutions team educated AWA’s team about important trends in consumer behavior and sourcing of travel information online, reviewed the full scope of AWA’s marketing opportunities, helped AWA analyze destination market competitors, and identify differentiating qualities and key marketing messages for AWA and it’s destination market. LeapUp helped develop a new messaging strategy for AWA, distilling key marketing messages to just a few that most differentiated the company from its competitors.
  • LeapUp initiated a “migration” to the web as AWA’s key marketing medium; dramatically reduced the company’s dependence on printed collateral, branded media advertising and direct mail marketing.
  • LeapUp sourced and helped develop bid materials and evaluate the bids for 3 key resources to support the AWA marketing program: an advertising/graphic design agency, SEO campaign manager and web design/developer. These resources were critical supports enhancing the presentation of marketing messages to be more compelling, high impact and consistent across vehicles, both offline and online.
  • LeapUp planned and project managed the relaunch of the Alaska Wildlands website in early 2004 from development of the content architecture, keywords strategy and creative to additions of new features and functionality and beta site review. LeapUp educated the AWA team in the most important elements of search engine optimization from website design to copy writing, links marketing, source code and programming so that the AWA team could build this into ongoing content refreshes and additions.
  • LeapUp also worked with the new advertising agency to substantially revise the messaging and design of the company trip catalog. These two redesign investments have been leveraged over the past 8 years, requiring only periodic updates substantially reducing annual marketing expenditures for AWA.
  • LeapUp introduced AWA to the world of direct email marketing developing this program from the ground up. Finally, LeapUp helped AWA develop new performance metrics to understand the return on investment from all marketing programs.
  • Later in 2005 and 2006, LeapUp assisted AWA with SEO and pay per click marketing.
  • Since 2006, LeapUp has continued to assist the management team at AWA with ongoing marketing strategy development, search engine optimization, pay per click campaign development, promotional campaigns and new product launches:
  • Launch of Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge 2008-2009
  • AWA Strategy Review August 2011 resulting in new lodge-based brand strategy
  • AWA Brand Strategy Refresh April 2012 resulting in new investment in AWA’s fishing brand, social media and a “personality-based” lodge messaging strategy
  • AWA Marketing Strategy Retreat in June 2018 resulting in decision to relaunch all sites, add content marketing strategies, produce promotional videos for AWA and all lodge sites and leverage social media more comprehensively.

LeapUp continues to support AWA on an ad hoc basis with periodic marketing platform, program and campaign reviews.

LeapUp’s Leverage

  • AWA has experienced robust growth in sales after retooling its marketing program under the leadership of LeapUp.
    • Unique visits to the AWA website doubled within one year of the new website launch.
    • Pay Per Click traffic increased significantly as well as the average click through rate on text ads, average page position and ad conversions.
    • Email marketing continue to generate a significant number of new qualified leads. E-letter deliveries increased from a nominal number prior to AWA’s new marketing plan to 40,000 per year with AWA’s email inquiry list growing to nearly 25,000.
  • The launch of the new lodge-based strategy in 2012 fueled sales as well.

The AWA Director of Sales and Marketing reported:
“Sales are up in a huge way. The lodge-combinations are selling like crazy – everything is. The cross-marketing between sites and the custom lodge-combo’s – people completely ‘get it’. All that work we did…is completely paying off”. – Kris Miller, Former Director of Sales and Marketing, Alaska Wildland Adventures

Company President, Kirk Hoessle:

“Annie helped us totally re-examine our marketing approaches, develop new tactics, and refresh components that seemed to be working well. With both her direct help and her coaching of our staff and subcontractors, we were able to launch an entirely new trip catalog and coordinated website based upon the strategies that we developed together under her leadership. Our sales improved immediately and Annie has been our “Marketing Mentor” for continued marketing guidance and special projects ever since! 



Posted on

February 14, 2013