Holiday Inn on the Hill, a 343-unit property on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC wanted to reach a younger demographic more affluent than the typical Holiday Inn guest. It targeted travelers who typically stay at boutique hotels but also want the traditional Holiday Inn value, reliability and family appeal.

The hotel undertook an extensive renovation featuring an unconventional interior design scheme — contemporary and playful, sophisticated but not intimidating. Uniforms also had a new look — jet black and cobalt blue.

The challenge was how to communicate this updating to its key market, upscale families, while retaining the values of its traditional client base. It hired E-site Marketing for a comprehensive Internet marketing program, an approach it considered the most efficient. The reasons: young people use the Internet extensively, and in 2003, 67 percent of net users who travel went online for information on destinations, prices and schedules.

E-site Marketing designed a new, interactive website to appeal to both parents and children. The theme of blue water bubbles in the hotel lobby was reinforced throughout the site for brand consistency. The Holiday Inn logo was downplayed to a small color version on the bottom right of every page.

Site elements include a family section featuring a submarine game and scrapbook for the kids, a list of family activities and itinerary planning packages for the parents and a “bubble me” blue martini recipe.

To position the site as a resource for travel information, E-site developed partnerships with other sites such as brides.com, Restaurant Row, Washington, DC Wedding Guide, Time Out Washington, Military USA and Aardvark Travel. It also executed an e-mail marketing campaign for special fall rates, targeting members of SMERF (social, military, educational, religious and fraternal groups), government and professional societies and unions.

A search engine advertising campaign was also developed with a special offer for families visiting Washington. This highlighted a special rate and value-added features, and a “landing page” showcasing the offer provided an opportunity to click-to-book in one easy step.

As a result of these initiatives, Holiday Inn on the Hill acquired a strong online presence and brand awareness from the new target market. Among the successful metrics:

  • Overall traffic between October 2003 and August 2004 increased 252 percent.

  • The search engine advertising campaign produced an average increase in traffic of 24 percent, a two-percent CTR (click-through-rate) that exceeds the industry standard and, in its first full month, it increased overall revenue by three percent. The hotel's main website also won several awards during the past two years.

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