Best of Show: D-Day With The National WWII Museum

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards competition — celebrating creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations — honored its winners at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala in New York City on Jan. 21. The top honor of the night went to three Best of Show winners. Take some inspiration from one of them: The National WWII Museum’s “Owning an Entire News Cycle: D-Day With The National WWII Museum,” which was honored in the Public Relations/PR Campaign/Special Event category. (View all of last year’s Adrian-winning submissions here.)

BACKGROUND: Seventy-five years after Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, The National WWII Museum sought to take advantage of the media coverage surrounding the diamond-anniversary celebration of D-Day in June 2019 and generate impactful coverage of the museum and its subsequent events. Located in New Orleans, The National WWII Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the American experience in the war and educate all generations on the sacrifices that were made. The campaign’s goals were to inspire and educate visitors on the lessons that can be learned from WWII, position the museum’s historians as go-to spokespeople for WWII stories, and drive traffic and donations to the museum.

CAMPAIGN: To start, the campaign targeted a wide audience across the United States but focused on veterans and their families through placements in influential broadcast, print, and online outlets. Historians and WWII veterans were interviewed in both Normandy and New Orleans for the various media spots, telling specific stories of those who fought and providing a broader historical context for the events of June 6, 1944.

The stand-out part of the campaign began in late May, when the National WWII Museum launched two cruises following the path of Germany’s conquest of Western Europe and the subsequent Allied efforts to regain control and liberate the continent. The cruises culminated with a June 6 arrival at Omaha Beach to partake in commemorative D-Day events. Along with historians, WWII veterans were on the cruise, some returning to the beaches where they fought for the first time since they landed there 75 years ago. In New Orleans, more historians and veterans took part in another series of celebrations beginning with an H-Hour ceremony at 6:30 a.m. — the exact time of the D-Day landings.

RESULTS: The campaign generated more than 1.3 billion media impressions, the equivalent of more than $46 million in advertisement spending. Placements included 132 broadcast segments (192 million impressions), with pieces on Fox News, CNN, PBS, and a CBS News Special Report, as well as 13 national print placements (18 million impressions), including the front page of The New York Times, and 102 online placements (1.1 billion impressions). The museum’s website broke several records, including its highest number of visitors in one day — nearly 75,000 on June 6 — and highest number of visitors in the month of June, at 480,000. June 2019 also generated an increase of 37 percent in online donations and broke a record for museum visitation.

WHY IT WON: Adrians judges were very impressed with “Owning an Entire News Cycle: D-Day With The National WWII Museum.” Here is what several of them had to say about it why they thought it was the best of the best:

  • “It’s highly interactive, making the past relevant to the present and future. It educates and enlightens about what matters, and that was really powerful.”
  • The New York Times feature story really stood out, especially since it was timed to drop the day before the anniversary and helped cause the web traffic to double.”
  • “It was about storytelling. It wasn’t about ‘come see the new museum.’ It showed the power of what storytelling is and what PR does.”
  • “To incorporate the veterans’ and their children’s stories into this campaign was really brilliant. The narrative became ‘What do we learn from this in the current generation?’ It worked really well.”

HSMAI SPECIAL REPORT: Crisis Communications for Hospitality Marketing Professionals

In a crisis situation, business leaders don’t just need information. They need inspiration. They need success stories. That’s what this HSMAI Special Report — presented with the support of HSMAI’s Organizational Member companies — provides. While the coronavirus is still very much a developing situation, hospitality marketing professionals should be focusing on how they are positioning their properties, companies, and brands — not just right now, in the midst of the crisis, but in the aftermath.

To offer some ideas, we’ve turned to winners in the Crisis Communication/Recovery Communications category for Public Relations in HSMAI’s Adrian Awards competition. As the 10 case studies we have developed from these destinations’ and properties’ campaigns show, there is no such thing as a non-recoverable disaster. In the moment, your job is to communicate in a way that prioritizes the safety of your guests, your employees, and your stakeholders. And when it’s over, you let them know that you’re open for business — and better than ever.

Crisis Communication and Marketing Expert Insights

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales and Marketing International (HSMAI)

Hoteliers find themselves in an unknown environment as the coronavirus continues to spread and the situation evolves, creating a challenge when it comes to communicating with clients, partners, and other stakeholders. Laura Guitar, executive vice president and partner at rbb Communications, and Chris Davidson, executive vice president of insights and strategy at MMGY Global, shared their perspectives and tips for hospitality marketing professionals as part of a program in HSMAI’s Confronting Coronavirus webinar series called “Crisis Communication and Marketing Expert Insights” on March 12. Here are key takeaways from their presentation:

1. We are not overreacting as an industry. This is one of the most common questions that Davidson has been getting. The reality, he said, is that hospitality professionals have no idea how many people are already infected or how many asymptomatic people are walking around. “The reaction is appropriate,” he said. “It’s our responsibility to mitigate the impact.”

But because no one knows what’s going to happen, it’s hard to predict when things will bounce back. “How quickly we come out of this,” Davidson said, “is dependent on how widespread it becomes.”

2. Hotels have a responsibility to provide clear, accurate information. This, Guitar said, is difficult in an age when, despite all the news sources that are available, many people don’t trust the government or media — plus there is so much misinformation out there. Because hospitality marketing professionals aren’t scientists, it’s more important to point clients to the most reliable sources you can find, such as the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control, rather than spreading information yourself.

3. It’s important to have a crisis plan. Such a plan shouldn’t cover every single situation in detail, but rather should define the process that will guide decisions being made in high-pressure circumstances, Guitar said. Davidson added that crisis plans should include a chain of command for both getting and disseminating information. It’s also important to create a post-coronavirus toolkit, with plans and programs that can be used to target audiences when the crisis is over.

4. Focus on the business. This crisis is likely going to last at least six to eight weeks before it peaks, Davidson said. Therefore, it’s important not to let the issue absorb everyone’s time and thinking, but rather create a team of people to do that, so that others can focus on keeping the business running. “If you lose sight of the business, you’re going to have to rebuild on the other side,” Davidson said. “This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

5. There are still opportunities to pursue. Both Guitar and Davidson recommended pushing the idea of staycations, where people can feel as if they’re getting away by staying in a hotel in their own town. “The idea is hometown support and rallying around our community,” Guitar said. Davidson also recommended targeting road trippers, who could get to hotels without risking being exposed to the virus in airports.

For island destinations, Guitar said that more people are afraid of getting the virus on a plane than at a resort. She recommended partnering with an airline and promoting all the cleaning and sterilizing that planes are undergoing after every flight. “Planes might actually be the cleanest places in the country right now,” Guitar said.

Watch the entire HSMAI Confronting Coronavirus webinar “Crisis Communication and Marketing Expert Insights” here. For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources hub.

Corporate Social Responsibility: Rosen Tangelo Park Program

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards competition — celebrating creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations — honored its winners at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala in New York City on Jan. 21. It also included the Corporate Social Responsibility Award, which honors an organization using its resources to focus on issues that matter to a company’s employees, customers, and communities. Take some inspiration from this year’s CSR Award winner: Rosen Hotels & Resorts’ Tangelo Park Program. (View all of last year’s Adrian-winning submissions here.)

BACKGROUND: Harris Rosen, president and COO of Rosen Hotels & Resorts, has contributed to many charitable initiatives through the Harris Rosen Foundation, including supporting an underserved neighborhood called Tangelo Park, which is located near several Rosen Hotels in Orlando. A first-generation college student himself, Rosen committed to providing an education to the neighborhood children, who were growing up in a crime-ridden area, with few opportunities to succeed.

CSR PROGRAM: In 1993, Rosen promised to pay the full college or vocational school tuition, including room, board, and books, for any child graduating high school, and to provide free pre-school for two- to four-year olds. Last year, he opened the Rosen Tangelo Park Preschool, a building with several classrooms where he funds the teachers’ salaries.

Rosen has continued to create opportunities for students to receive quality educations. Most recently, he implemented a similar program in the Orlando neighborhood of Parramore, committing to the same scholarships and funding the Rosen Parramore Preschool. Additionally, he funded the building of the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida, funds three scholarship to Rollins College, and provides free college scholarships to his employees and their children after three years of service.

RESULTS: A 2016 study showed that every dollar Rosen has invested into the neighborhood has returned seven-fold. The high-school graduation has increased to 99 percent. Many of the more than 200 students whose college education Rose funded have gone on to graduate school and enjoy successful careers as teachers, lawyers, social workers, and more.

Generation Alpha and Family Travel Trends

The Lightning Round is a signature program at HSMAI’s Marketing Strategy Conference — giving six marketing executives just six minutes and 40 seconds each to share a best practice, strategic insight, or big idea. At the 2020 Marketing Strategy Conference on Jan. 22, Derek Price, director of business development in North America for Expedia Group Media Solutions, focused on how families travel in a Lightning Round presentation called “Generation Alpha and Family Travel Trends.”

KEY TAKEAWAY: Generation Alpha is made up of kids born after 2010 — and they’re already having an impact in the travel space. According to Price, they love to travel and are actively involved in planning trips with their parents. Most families need help planning their trips, and the biggest opportunity is using appealing imagery in digital marketing which attracts Gen Alpha as well as their parents. “Everyone wants to be entertained and everyone wants to have fun,” Price said. “They’re making their decision based on the destination activities available.”

Best of Show: #JOURNEYSAFE by Super 8

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards competition — celebrating creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations — honored its winners at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala in New York City on Jan. 21. The top honor of the night went to three Best of Show winners. Take some inspiration for next year from one of them: Super 8’s “#JOURNEYSAFE,” which was honored in the Digital Marketing/Digital Campaign/Integrated Market Campaign for Consumers (B2C) category. (View all of last year’s Adrian-winning submissions here.)

BACKGROUND: Driving when tired, or drowsy driving, can be just as dangerous as driving while drunk or distracted, with exhausted drivers being three times more likely to be in a crash than alert drivers. With more than 100,000 accidents each year caused by drowsy driving, Super 8 launched a campaign to raise awareness of this issue and position the brand as a trusted place for drivers to rest and refuel along the highway.

CAMPAIGN: The digital campaign kicked off in New York City during National Sleep Awareness Month in March 2019, with speeches from psychologist and sleep expert Dr. Janet Kennedy, founder of NYC Sleep Doctor, and philanthropist and actor Giacomo Gianniotti, who plays Andrew DeLuca on Grey’s Anatomy, calling on drivers to journey safe and pull over when they need to. The campaign highlighted the dangers of drowsy driving, pointed out Super 8’s many convenient locations that allow travelers to safely rest up, and communicated that “the safer you are, the further you can go.”

Over the following months, the campaign amped up during high-travel periods in the spring and summer via digital video, social media, website, email, and integration with the mobile navigation app Waze. The campaign targeted travelers who spontaneously (with less than three weeks) plan driving trips, drivers who are constantly on the road for business, and families who don’t take risks when they travel but also don’t plan very far in advance. All of the targeted guests are travelers who look for fair prices in a convenient location and want to keep their loved ones safe, and about half are drive-up traffic when going to hotels.

RESULTS: The campaign was a huge success. More than 49,000 Waze users navigated to Super 8 locations via the campaign, exceeding all benchmarks. Within the first month of the website’s launch, more than 13,000 visitors checked it out, while on social media, campaign videos were viewed more than a million times, with more than 20,000 engagements. More than 39 media placements delivered another 110 million impressions.

WHY IT WON: Adrians judges were very impressed with Super 8’s #JOURNEYSAFE. Here is what several of them had to say about why they thought it was the best of the best:

  • “Super 8 gets most of their stays from drive-in traffic. They know people are driving long distances and often driving when they’re quite tired. They took that and turned it into a public-interest campaign. They educated people on the stats of drowsy driving, educated them on the consequences of it, and provided a solution.”
  • “It connected a core aspect of their business, a great public-service message, and really quality creative as well. It had all the elements of a solid integrated marketing campaign.”
  • “The Waze integration, how they were able to demonstrate bookings from their target audience was a differentiator from other entries.”
  • “You could only do this in a digital context. It’s not going to work as a print campaign, or a display, or television campaign. Digital is the only way this is going to work, where you’re getting people when they’re mobile, in their car, late at night, and you give them the message in their moment of need. That was really impressive.”

A Revenue Leader’s Response & Best Practice in a Crisis

By Limin Cheng, Vice President HSMAI Asia Pacific, previously, Director of Revenue for Marina Bay Sands in Singapore

The rapid spread of the coronavirus from China and beyond has caused a rapid and sudden halt to tourism throughout Asia. Travel, as a luxury expenditure, is often one of the first things we choose to limit when a crisis hits. In times like this, the revenue leader’s response during this time could be crucial on a few different levels. The following are some simple tips and reflections.

1. Use data to tell a story to manage panic and fearful expectations

Whilst optimizing revenue isn’t a top priority during a time of rapid cancellations and widespread declines in tourism arrivals, most revenue leaders are in the position to monitor data. By the simple routine of running daily pick-up reports, monitoring booking pace and reviewing the forecast, the discipline of these reports equips us with information to understand the severity of what is happening. At times like this, it’s more important to provide context to the data. For example, noting that there are 50 cancellations a day is not as important as being able to say ‘We are observing an average of 50 cancellations a day, this is 120% more than the typical daily cancellation factor we observed. Key source countries the cancellations are coming are from XYZ.’ Accurately providing context to these figures is important to provide a succinct perspective, no matter how dire.

2. Research historical macro trends of a similar crisis

Unfortunately for the world, the coronavirus outbreak is not the first virus epidemic in recent history. SARs, H1N1, and MERs still bring back chills for countries that experienced these epidemics acutely. If you are in a country that has experienced any of these before, review the historical decline in tourism arrivals in comparison to the same time in the previous month or previous year.

As an example, during the SARS outbreak, Singapore experienced a decline of 19% year-on-year in tourist arrivals. However, they are forecasting a decline of up to 30% in tourist arrivals due to the coronavirus. These macro-tourist trends are an indicator of the expected decline you might expect for your own hotel business. It’s also important to account for variations due to impacts on different market segments – larger conventions may be canceled or shifted completely, whilst smaller meetings or independent travelers may not see as large a shift depending on their purpose of travel.

Understanding the macro-perspective may be cold comfort in the face of lost revenue, but it provides a realistic picture of performance and could be useful in dealing with anxious comments from far-away head offices.

3. Focus on cash flow, find different sources of revenue if possible

Rather than spending time clawing back cancellation fees or lamenting the loss of a great potential piece of business, it’s important to divert your sales or distribution efforts to other sources of revenue.

For groups or guests who wish to cancel, allowing a postponed trip will be helpful.

Think about the psychology of people responding to this type of crisis now. Most people are fearful of attending a large event of 100 people for fear of that 1 stranger who was unaware and has the virus. But some people are probably more comfortable meeting in smaller settings where they know there are people they can trust to be responsible.

However, in a crisis, cashflow is king. Unfortunately, it’s also time to reduce unnecessary spending to ensure the hotel is in a decent cashflow position to weather the next few months.

4. A crisis is still a moment-of-truth

In the hospitality business, we are often in the business of holidays, celebrations and great service. The crisis is the antithesis to any form of celebration, but we all need to remember that these are also ‘moments-of-truths’ that we need to manage. If we respond to a cancellation request with patience, compassion, and anticipation that they will return, your guest is likely to return when they can arrange their next trip.

If we respond in a petty way to reject refunds or charge cancellation fees, you might get the money but you would have lost the customer forever and left a bitter taste in their mouth. Whilst saying that, I recognize that all businesses need to balance compassion and cashflow management.

I often think to myself ‘How would I respond if the person on the line is my family calling to cancel the booking?’ With that in mind, it should define the spirit of compassion we will be able to empower our front-line staff to deal with the cancellations coming in.

As much as we would like to minimize revenue loss, if there is any time we should reconsider the SOPs and break the rules, it is a time of crisis.

Visit Business Traveller for a collection of responses from hotel businesses worldwide responding to the coronavirus.

5. A time to ‘separate the men from the boys’

A somewhat less politically correct phrase coming from a female writer, but I do sincerely believe that a crisis defines a leader and separates the men from the boys. Our truest colors show under intense pressure. As a revenue leader, this is the time to show the rest of the hotel team that we are more than statistics, increased prices and overbooking levels. It’s a time to use data to paint realistic expectations, whilst strategizing for the turnaround when it comes.

It’s a time to use facts to calm panic. Or look at the data and panic first, before sharing everything in a much more composed and methodical manner.

It’s a time to show compassion and focus on supporting fellow colleagues in the best way possible.

It’s a time to learn and record down the trends and stories under these extreme circumstances because when the turnaround comes, you’ll want to be able to look back and reflect on how this process made your teams stronger and more resilient.

Finally, it’s important to remain prepared for the comeback. Fortunately for us, historical statistics also show that there is always a turning point. Although it may feel far away now in the midst of the fallout, as the team looking at booking pace and daily-pick up reports, you’ll also be the first one to be able to report the good news. Be prepared for that.

Visit HSMAI Asia Pacific to view the post and learn more about the author LiMin Cheng.

Data & Analytics for Sales Leaders: Tips for Success

At HSMAI’s Sales Leader Forum on Nov. 5–6, Dr. Kelly McGuire, principal with McRevenue LLC, presented a breakout session on “Data and Analytics for Sales Leaders.” Here is the third of four key takeaways:

In order to get into the groove of data-driven, fact-based decisions, McGuire recommends asking for proof in order to have stronger, more accurate data. “Get it built into your culture,” she said.

Second, all data is filthy. Data cleanliness initiatives take a long time, McGuire said, but you can’t wait until the data is perfect or you’ll be waiting forever. Third, get used to using visualizations beyond spreadsheets to more clearly illustrate data, especially when sharing with others.

Best of Show: Stellar Dining Series by The Ritz-Carlton

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards competition— celebrating creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations — honored its winners at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala in New York City on Jan. 21. The top honor of the night went to three Best of Show winners. Take some inspiration for next year from one of them: Marriott’s “Stellar Dining Series by The Ritz-Carlton,” which was honored in the Advertising/Advertising Campaign/Experimental Category. (View all of last year’s the Adrian-winning submissions here.)

BACKGROUND: Upon realizing that Ritz-Carlton is one of the luxury hotel chains with the most homegrown Michelin-starred chefs, The Ritz-Carlton embraced the opportunity to leverage this asset in a new way by creating an innovative concept that offered unique experiences to drive brand awareness and differentiation: Stellar Dining Series.

In top Asian capitals, fine dining with friends and family has become increasingly possible due to an increase in disposable income and a cultural shift favoring more social gatherings. According to a MasterCard survey, one in three millennials eats at a fine-dining restaurant at least once a month. The Ritz-Carlton also studied reports on the evolution of how consumers define luxury and travel to better understand the trends and mindset of the audience.

In 2018, The Ritz-Carlton invited guests on rare culinary journeys in food-centric cities including Singapore, Osaka, Hong Kong, and Beijing, and in 2019, the company presented events in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Guangzhou. The series will continue this year, with the ultimate goal of building Ritz-Carlton into a sought-after culinary destination.

CAMPAIGN: A series of phenomenal culinary encounters specially curated by Michelin-starred chefs and culinary talents, the Stellar Dining Series targeted potential guests in key source markets in order to broaden the awareness of the brand. Two targeted groups were “The Global Affluent Tribe,” who reside or travel in the cities involved in the campaign, and “The Editors/Influencers,” who shine a spotlight on the lifestyle and entertainment scenes in those cities. Both groups are always searching for the newest, finest, and most exclusive experiences as they collect meaningful stories and are inspired by travel.

The Ritz-Carlton developed an integrated marketing strategy across consumer funnels and leveraged OTVs, digital banners, and the WeChat mini app to drive traffic to a mini-site with inspirational content. To amplify the campaign, Marriott used social media in several phases of storytelling creative, and invited pan-regional and local media to the events to drive PR and online buzz. For the broader public, strategically produced sleek content conveyed the uniqueness of each experience, in partnership with respected publications and influencers. The Ritz-Carlton also used its loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, to amplify the campaign.

RESULTS: Over the course of 14 days in 2018, the Stellar Dining Series hosted more than 50 luxury dining sessions and generated total revenue of $503,000, with a 57-percent YOY increase. The campaign was also a huge success, with 112 premium media attending the premiere events in 2018, generating more than 170 clippings that drove nearly 750 million PR impressions. Publications such as the Michelin Guide, Condé Nast Traveler, and GQ ran positive reviews of the experiences, which along with the social and digital campaigns delivered above the expected KPI a total of 78 million impressions, 0.45% average CTR, and more than 3 million social media engagements, and contributed to all of the Stellar Dining experiences becoming fully booked.

WHY IT WON: Adrians judges were very impressed with the Stellar Dining Series by The Ritz-Carlton. Here is what several of them had to say about it why they thought it was the best of the best:

  • “I liked the fact that it was very true to the Ritz-Carlton brand, but it represented the brand in a contemporary, fresh context. I thought the whole alignment, bringing together chefs from around the Asia-Pacific capitals and the reference point done digitally in an elegant, sophisticaed fashion, worked digitally and through videography. It created a cool experience for those who had the opportunity to consume the experience, but for those who didn’t, it created some fascination with respect to what a Ritz-Carlton experience from a dining perspective is all about. It created an immersive experience as well as an aspirational one that made me want to stay at a Ritz-Carlton and have that experience.”
  • “It was super seamlessly integrated, so you could easily consume the content from your smartphone.”
  • “I think they did a great job of creating an emotional connection with the target audience from within three seconds of the video starting. The narrative felt very compelling throughout. They were about to thread many of the aspects of the campaign in a very interconnected and consistent way. It felt very aspirational and highlighted one of the key differentials of the Ritz-Carlton — the F&B component.”
  • “People who stay in hotels know you don’t eat in hotel restaurants, and this is taking that convention and turning it upside down.”

8 Strategies to Prep Team Members for Different Economic Conditions

By Juli Jones, CAE, Vice President, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

How are you, as a revenue leader, coaching team members on how to deal with a potential downturn in the market, which many of them have not faced? HSMAI’s Revenue Optimization Advisory Board (ROAB) tackled that question at its annual retreat and identified 8 strategies that they are employing in their own businesses:

  1. Define and differentiate between an economic downturn versus a decline in demand.
  2. Increase communication both internally and externally by defining KPIs and knowing the source of your information in order to know how much to trust it.
  3. Provide a guide for best practice levers you can pull once you’re sure it is a downturn.
  4. Look beyond pricing to manage through a downturn (i.e., find new business).
  5. Read case studies and white papers based on the past.
  6. Train employees — focus on influencing, storytelling, instilling confidence, and making strategic decisions going forward.
  7. Use new metrics — don’t chase an index that might not be truly valuable.
  8. Plan for different scenarios.

The advisory board also discussed emerging trends. These issues and more will be addressed at HSMAI’S ROC on June 16-17, 2020 in San Antonio, Texas.