We are seemingly breaking records every day.
Giving every advantage to lead through data and digital innovation
In 2020, Best Western Hotels & Resorts brought on PMG to help shape the brand’s digital transformation and help the company evolve to embrace digital. The partnership began just as the global pandemic was giving rise to an unprecedented downturn in business and leisure travel. To help pave the road to recovery, Best Western leaned heavily on PMG’s data-driven approach and media expertise to ensure every dollar counted toward attracting travelers to its properties.
In January 2021, eight months after much of the world went into lockdown, the outlook was still grim for travel, with an AHLA report finding that only 56% of respondents were likely to travel for leisure and half of U.S. hotel rooms were projected to remain empty. However, search data provided strong indicators of a travel recovery. Hotel queries were down only 10% Y/Y (despite ad impressions being down 39%), with many people interested in short road trips to nearby destinations that were well-served by Best Western properties.
PMG and Best Western developed an agile, opportunistic omnichannel strategy in anticipation of an impending (and robust) return to travel, and together, we innovated new approaches to prediction modeling and media buying to put Best Western ahead of its competition.
First, we moved to help Best Western weather the worst of the pandemic by capturing as much of the limited hotel bookings occurring as possible by targeting those with a clear indication of travel booking interest with paid search and metasearch.
Then, to ensure we were spotting consumer behavior trends in near real-time and best positioning Best Western to move quickly when people were ready to travel, we leveraged PMG’s Alli technology to build a custom dashboard that visualized the expected timing of booking revenue driven by PMG managed media. The predictive dashboard enabled us to look across regional, foot traffic, weather, vaccination and other data trends, to identify any changes in booking behaviors from years past and to signal opportunities to capture surging demand.
To maximize a core component of Best Western’s business — walk-in business — we developed four unique dashboards utilizing foot traffic:
We measured overall national trends in foot traffic across hotels, gas stations, and airports, leveraging upticks to identify opportunities for increased media investment.
We overlaid media investment with overall visits to analyze the impact of media on footfall by state and city, which helped us quantify the value of investments and find optimization opportunities between channels and partners.
We measured total and incremental walk-in reservations driven by linear TV and programmatic media using a custom measurement solution to exclude those who booked online.
We evaluated the impact of linear TV on foot traffic, allowing Best Western to gain insights on how different networks, DMAs, and dayparts impact visits.
Once vaccinations started to hit their stride and the signals for an impending recovery were strong, PMG moved quickly to launch a full-funnel campaign to drive demand and consideration. We leveraged audience data to create targeting profiles, and mixed in a range of strategies to extend the impact of Best Western’s investment. The integrated campaign included linear and streaming video placements on Hulu, Roku, HGTV, CNN, Food Network, and Lifetime, as well as audio, display, social, and in-car campaigns, while we maintained a strong presence in paid search and metasearch.
Our plan targeted video across addressable, OTT and CTV — with a robust measurement strategy looking at reach and frequency against key guest segments, cost per booking, and incremental foot traffic to properties — allowing us to maximize every dollar. We also embraced innovative partnerships and approaches to create new advantages:
We partnered with AMC Networks and The Trade Desk to be among the first to buy live TV inventory with advanced programmatic buying technology, giving Best Western a first-mover advantage to linear TV advertising.
We leveraged in-car placements with Waze to reach road-trippers in relevant DMAs during one of the busiest summers for road travel.
We relaunched Best Western on Facebook and Instagram for the first time since Q1 of 2019 through a mixture of dynamic prospecting and dynamic retargeting strategies, while capitalizing on increased travel intent in Q3 to expand traffic-focused campaigns on Pinterest and Twitter.
For the first time, Best Western was able to sequentially message consumers as they moved down the funnel by connecting TV and audio retargeting with display.
PMG gave Best Western confidence in taking bold, innovative, data and insights driven approaches to its media investments while competitors wavered, giving the brand significantly higher visibility in searches nationwide, creating demand, and increasing consideration among people looking to travel.
Our measurement strategy helped quantify video’s impact for Best Western in unprecedented ways, by tying bookings directly to digital video campaigns, understanding how CTV works in the booking journey, and measuring foot traffic and walk-in reservations without an online booking through a custom solution developed in tandem with Foursquare — all down to the network, daypart, day of week, and demographics spanning age, income, presence of children, and regionality.
The aggressive move into upper funnel channels like linear TV and video contributed to record bookings in lower funnel channels of search and metasearch — up 27% compared to 2019 pre-pandemic — in the summer of 2021, and revenue followed by jumping 50% compared to Siteminder's World Hotel Index report that U.S. hotel booking momentum remained between 70%-90% of 2019 levels. Meanwhile, relaunching on Facebook and Instagram led to a 20 point lift in Ad Recall (156% above the Facebook Travel norm). In a highly unpredictable travel year marked by pandemic recovery and nationwide variations in travel behavior, sentiment and vaccination rates, Best Western saw multiple days of record e-commerce and net revenue, making it a relied on destination for travelers in 2021.
Moreover, PMG’s custom dashboards proved to be more than just an advantage in terms of campaign planning and optimizations. They are enabling data democratization internally at Best Western, making data easily accessible to all teams and departments at the company, and furthering the company’s ongoing digital transformation and competitive advantage.
We are seemingly breaking records every day.