Levelling-up the Digital Presence of a Renaissance Italian Estate


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Design & Development



Social Media

Paid Advertising

Climate Positive Hosting & Management


Valsanzibio (full name The Monumental Garden of Valsanzibio and Villa Barbarigo) is a privately owned and managed estate, located approximately 50km south-east of Venice, in the Veneto region of northern Italy. It comprises two principal parts: the first is a monumental garden, designed by renowned architect L. Bernini; and the second a Baroque-era villa, both created in the 1600s.

The monumental garden features unique examples of Renaissance and Baroque-era statuary, numerous fountains and water features, rare and endangered plants and trees, and the world’s oldest original boxwood labyrinth.

Since opening to the public in 2007 visitors have been welcome at Valsanzibio between February and December every year, where they are free to explore the gardens at their leisure.

The Challenge

Between 2007 and 2017, Valsanzibio observed a steady increase in the number of visitors annually, year on year.

However, in 2018, this trend slowed, which led the owner to undertake a program of outreach and PR in an attempt to raise the profile of Valsanzibio, both in Italy and internationally.

One such piece of PR was an article in the UK edition of the Financial Times in July 2018, where Valsanzibio was featured alongside two other similar sites in the Veneto region – it was via this article that Global Bay became aware of Valsanzibio.

After making contact with the owner, and following a series of discussions and meetings (both virtually and in-person), it was evident that the then-state of Valsanzibio’s digital presence was likely contributing to the slowdown in growth of visitors to Valsanzibio. Principally, we identified:

  • A sub-standard user experience when using the website (both via desktop and mobile)
  • The inability to buy tickets online, to access the gardens
  • Inconsistency in the frequency and positioning of social media content
  • A lack of high quality visual content – photographic and video

Through market analysis and engagement with our network, we quickly identified other sites in Italy, both locally and nationally, that had addressed these areas and were now benefiting from an improved recognition and visitor attendance levels.

The Project

Starting in October 2018, Global Bay undertook a comprehensive overhaul of Valsanzibio’s digital presence which culminated in February 2019 with the delivery of:  
  • re-designed website, in keeping with Valsanzibio’s established and recognised brand, that provides a superior user experience, through improved content and usability, in comparison to competitor sites
  • An integrated online booking system, allowing visitors to intuitively purchase their tickets digitally to visit the monumental garden
  • A coherent and complete strategy for social media, with a focus on increasing international awareness and driving visitors to Valsanzibio
  • A high quality content resource library, featuring an extensive range of edited photo and video content to be used
  Since February 2019, Global Bay has been retained by Valsanzibio to provide ongoing digital marketing support, with a focus on social media strategy (paid and organic), website development and management, and search engine optimisation.

The Outcome

Since levelling-up Valsanzibio’s digital presence, we have observed:

  • A significant increase in both local and international web traffic from 2,500 to 10,050 visitors on average per month
  • Digital tickets become an integral part of Valsanzibio’s business model which helped the business survive the pandemic (see update below)
  • An increase in the size of Valsanzibio’s social media audience of 353% on Instagram and 171% on Facebook
  • An increase in Valsanzibio’s international audience on Instagram from 4% to 16% and counting
  • Valsanzibio has also been featured in the BBC series “Monty Don’s Adriatic Gardens”

These successes were, and continue to be, supported by high-quality photo and video content produced by Global Bay.

COVID-19 UPDATE Pandemic-proofing in the tourism industry

In the period 16 May to 30 June 2020, as Italy ‘re-opened’ following its COVID-19 induced-lockdown, we observed an increase in digital ticket sales of 806% compared to the same period in 2019.

By investing in their website and implementing online ticket sales pre-pandemic, Valsanzibio had placed themselves in a strong position to survive the challenges of the pandemic. During lockdowns, visitors were able to support the garden by buying tickets online to be used at a future date. Once the garden was reopened, visitors could also reduce their physical contact by purchasing their tickets online.

Based on this clear and evident shift in visitor buying behaviour, we can summarise that the projects successfully delivered by Global Bay helped shield Valsanzibio from a potential loss in revenue (when Italy was experiencing an overall downturn in tourism-related activities).

This conclusion has been confirmed by liaising with our network in Italy, where peers and contacts have confirmed that sites without the ability to offer digital tickets have seen a steeper decline in attendance, when compared to Valsanzibio.

Global Bay combines enthusiasm for the travel and hospitality sector with a comprehensive expertise in all things digital.

Not only did they deliver an impressive upgrade to our digital presence, but they ensured that it was integrated into our wider work processes too.

I would highly recommend Global Bay for internationalising your online presence.

Tenuta Valsanzibio SRL

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