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At Customer Expo 2018, Fred Pratt, Director of Marketing for Best Western Hotels & Resorts, gave presentations that shared how his brand was able to create customer loyalty through awareness and collaboration. With 4,200 properties in 100 countries, Best Western has much to gain and much to protect, in terms of loyalty.
Pratt noted the increasing number of “cord-cutters,” people who have dropped traditional TV and cable in favor of streaming services. With this trend, even companies with high-levels of brand-recognition, like Best Western, need to find ways to reach cord-cutters, who can no longer be reached with broadcast advertising. “That’s a strategy you had to look at,” said Pratt. “How do you connect with a customer where you and get them, in a meaningful way, to book direct and see the value of what you’re offering them?”
Pratt and the Best Western marketing team devised a three-pronged approach to confront this change. “In 2018. . . we built a strategy that has three elements to it: routine, non-routine, and innovation.” The “routine” category includes investments with predictable returns, such as Google ads. The “non-routine” category is less predictable; it’s comprised of things like social media advertising. “Innovation,” said Pratt, “is where you’re pushing forward. You’re looking beyond what you’re currently doing, where the customer is starting to move, and you haven’t been there yet.”
This division enabled the company to make informed decisions in allocating resources while ensuring that it reached all valuable audiences through diverse media. Pratt and team found that 87 percent of people looking at travel destinations did so on mobile devices. As such, Best Western had to be as present as possible on mobile.
On the innovation side, the company partnered with YouTube, Amazon Fire, TripAdvisor, and IBM Watson Advertising to perform tests that would determine where customers would be in the near future. One result of these partnerships was a new ad campaign that used YouTube Director Mix so that users would see ads that were based on their search words. For example, if users searched for country music, they would see an ad encouraging them to “two-step [their] way out of town” and into a Best Western Hotel.
Pratt reported that the various innovations that these partnerships yielded has led to increased engagement with the Best Western brand. The company plans to continue employing the three-part approach to marketing in coming years.
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