Holiday Inn and Courtyard by Marriott have both defined a class of hotels. Holiday Inn was the original interstate hotel and Courtyard followed three decades later as the hotel for business travelers.
The two brands have recently gone through brand refreshes and are taking different, yet equally effective, approaches to getting their message out. Holiday Inn, as American as apple pie, formed a partnership with Major League Baseball and is using the national pastime to help market its brand. Courtyard has taken a less traditional approach, using a mostly viral marketing campaign to spread the word.
Holiday Inn hotels became the Official Hotel of Major League Baseball three years ago when InterContinental Hotels Group and MLB formed a three-year sponsorship.
“There is an innate connection between Holiday Inn and Major League Baseball,” says John Merkin, senior vice president of brand management for Holiday Inn brands in the Americas. “The partnership brings together two iconic brands — Ametica's favorite hotel and America's favorite pastime. Linking (the two) was a natural and logical move.”
Last year Hall of Famer Cal Ripken became the personality behind the brand's Look Again integrated marketing campaign. This year he filmed another commercial focusing on the brand's More You Stay, More You Earn program that earns Priority Club Rewards members $40 worth of MLB merchandise or tickets after eight nights at a Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express.
The deal with MLB is up after this year, but Merkin says “the partnership has been a success and we continue to explore the best way to work with Major League Baseball and its teams.”
Courtyard by Marriott recently introduced a modern new look and changed its brand tagline from “Redesigned by Business Travelers for Business Travelers” to “It's a New Stay.”
“Taking business out of the tagline showed that we know business travel is evolving,” says Gini Gladstone, the brand's senior director, marketing strategy and programs, “and that our guests are looking to engage with the hotel in non-business ways as well.”
Courtyard debuted its TV advertising campaign during the NCAA basketball finals with two commercials, one focusing on the brand's free WiFi and the other on its market, which is open round the clock.
Versions of those spots are also used online at sites like CNN and TripAdvisor. Courtyard is taking it a step further with an innovative new website, gocourtyard.com, that introduces the new lobby with an interactive tour and a blog from Brian King, Courtyard's vice president/global brand manager.
“It is creating conversations,” says John Wolfe, Marriott's senior director of public relations. “Courtyard is synonymous with listening to customers and we wanted to carry that on.”
Wolfe says you'll see lot more of these kinds of social media from Marriott and the efforts will extend to other brands.
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