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Holiday Inn Express relies on mobile to build social media engagement

By
June 25, 2013

Holiday Inn Express is rolling out the second phase of a campaign to connect with consumers via digital and mobile, with platforms such as Vine and Instagram playing a key role.

Consumers can access a new microsite at http://staysmart.ihg.com/, which is optimized for mobile and desktop devices. According to the company, 50 percent of the its social activity now takes place on mobile devices.

“Most people within our target audience of smart travelers are working professionals, and they tend to stay connected digitally 24/7, therefore digital and mobile is a key media channel for us,” said Heather Balsley, senior vice president of brand family, Americas at Holiday Inn, Atlanta. “In fact, more than half of all Holiday Inn Express brand social activity takes place via mobile.

“This campaign gives the Holiday Inn Express brand a chance to engage with its guests in an entirely new way,” she said. “The commercials were just the first step in a campaign that is truly embracing digital and social media, and that is why we are launching the Smart Thinking platform as the second phase of this campaign. From booking a room online or via our mobile app, to communicating with our guests via Twitter, Facebook, and now StaySmart.com, we know we need to be where our guests are in order to engage with them.”

Driving brand awareness
Holiday Inn Express’ StaySmart.com is aimed at aggregating content about consumers’ stays at the hotels via social media, pictures and videos.

Holiday Inn Express has also partnered with comedian and The Daily Show star Jason Jones on the campaign as the brand’s spokesman.

The brand originally launched its Stay Smart campaign earlier this year with a digital video campaign that included placements across mobile, tablet, online and video (see story).

Consumers are prompted to create short videos and upload photos via the site that show their knowledge and tag it with the hashtag #staysmart via the site.

Vine, Instagram and Twitter are all ways that consumers are encouraged to upload content. Additionally, users can submit YouTube videos that are less than 15-seconds long.

Consumers can also answer weekly questions such as, “What’s the most surprising piece of information you’ve ever received?” The questions are meant to help consumers grab a handful of quick inspiration while on the go.

The site also includes a tab called Stay Smart, where consumers can watch commercials from Holiday Inn Express and download the brand’s mobile app, which is available for iPhone and Android devices.

Additionally, Holiday Inn is using its microsite and campaign to spur mobile bookings. A button in the top right-hand side of the screen encourages consumers to make a booking and links to the homepage of the company’s mobile site.

Users can then find a nearby hotel and reserve a room on the spot.

Mobile past
Holiday Inn Express has been active in the mobile space for quite some time, particularly with its advertising and marketing.

The company is not the only hotel brand leveraging mobile and social this summer.

Hampton Hotels, for example, is debuting a video this summer that shows how Millennials share their vacation experiences via their mobile devices (see story).

Given the large percentage of social media activity that takes place on mobile devices, optimizing all parts of the Holiday Inn Express campaign for mobile is a given nowadays.

“The Holiday Inn Express brand understands how important it is for our guests to feel connected, even more so while traveling,” Ms. Balsley said.

“Mobile provides them with that smart, trusted adviser whenever they travel to new destinations,” she said.

“The mobile optimization of the Smart Thinking campaign on smartphones and tablets was a crucial component, and it takes it one step further by providing an entire community life lessons and Smart Thinking in a fun, light-hearted way.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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