If you’ve ever found yourself in a crowd of kids, you’ll know how noisy it gets when each one talks louder and louder in an attempt to be heard. While this blog post is not about kids, this analogy is an example of what hotel marketing can feel like sometimes! Can you relate?
Marketing emails, social media posts, and hotel blogs are tried and true methods that can boost your hotel’s bottom line. When all your neighboring hotels are following the same “best practices” in their marketing, your hotel’s marketing efforts might become just part of the noise.
Sometimes—just sometimes—you need to break free from the mold and try something different to stand out from the crowd. Check out these weird and wonderful hotel and travel campaigns to get your creative juices flowing and inspire your own outstanding campaign.
The Peninsula – Peninsula Perspectives
The campaign: The Peninsula hotels brand is known for its luxury accommodations within idyllic settings. But the brand recognizes what truly sets them apart is its employees. Welcoming, generous and with a wealth of knowledge, it is The Peninsula’s staff that makes a guest’s stay truly special.
The campaign features a series of videos, stories, and portraits that convey an individual employee’s perspective on hospitality, their hometown, or their personal story as it connects to the hotel. In one video, Janset Barlas, Director of Rooms at The Peninsula Istanbul, says, “In my city, we say ‘Strangers are friends you have yet to drink tea with.’ If you are here, you are home.” Tell us you didn’t get the warm fuzzies reading that!
Why it works: This campaign is rooted in human connection, which is something we all long for. It also evokes strong, positive emotions. When we share emotions with another human (even virtually) it creates an instant bond in our brains. Not to mention that emotional ad content has been shown to reap double the success of rational content.
The Hilton – 10 Minutes on TikTok
The campaign: No, that’s not a typo. While most hotel TikToks are more like 10 seconds, The Hilton produced a 10-minute TikTok video that went viral! The video features a variety of short videos stitched together from celebrities and influencers making fun of themselves, plus employees! And it’s also just weird enough. Otherwise, it kind of defies description! Just watch it for yourself!
Why it works: You know our noise analogy? A long-form video on a short-form platform is one way to surely stand out from the crowd! While a long-form video would normally die on TikTok, The Hilton’s video was genius by formatting it in a way that simulated a scrolling experience to keep viewers captivated (and giving their thumbs a rest!).
In the spirit of the platform, The Hilton also leveraged a very Gen-Z approach to this campaign, moving away from traditional marketing messaging (even satirizing it) and leaning into authenticity and self-aware humor. Oh, did we also mention that at the beginning of the video, viewers are challenged to watch to the very end in order to earn Hilton bonus points and swag? No cap, as the kids say these days.
QT Hotels & Resorts – Curious Currencies
The campaign: QT Hotels and Resorts certainly stood out from the crowd with their Curious Currencies campaign last year. During the campaign period, guests were asked to pay for their stay with their most unusual items for a chance to win a year’s worth of free stays at any of their properties in Australia or New Zealand.
Whether a tiny horse, Mick Jagger’s cigarette butt, or a prized marble, it wasn’t so much about the item but the story connected to it, and the quirkier, the better! Anything was up for grabs—if not the big prize, participants could simply earn a cocktail at the bar. But it doesn’t end there. The strangest of contributions will be displayed at the hotels before being auctioned for charity, with proceeds going toward the Australian Cultural Fund and New Zealand Arts Foundation. It’s a curious campaign with a cause!
Why it works: This campaign works for QT Hotels and Resorts because it’s perfectly aligned with their brand as a leader in “quirky luxury” and is the very definition of thinking outside the box. It’s the kind of campaign that not only gets people talking (we bet you’ll share this story at your next marketing meeting!) but it’s memorable, too.
The Hilton – Expert Smartphone Photography Waitstaff
The campaign: The Hilton Waitographer campaign is unusual but also very practical! How many times do guests ask the waitstaff to take their picture? Well, a picture says a thousand words so it’s worth investing in. The Hilton’s waitstaff in the UAE has been expertly trained to take great smartphone pictures to best capture those special moments. The portmanteau “waitograher” appears on name tags so guests can identify and ask for their picture to be taken by a pro.
Why it works: We already know how important reviews, testimonials, and user-generated content is on social media. An expertly taken photo of your guests will only increase its chances of ending up online for other prospective guests to see.
The Hilton also says it’s a wonderful way to build more in-human connections, the lack of which we’re all still craving after the last few years we’ve had! It enriches the staff experience, too; hospitality attracts a giving bunch with big hearts who want to help create special and memorable moments—this campaign does this in a very simple and tangible way.
KAYAK – KAYAK Deniers
The campaign: In this polarized world we’re living in filled with fake news, the KAYAK Deniers campaign is a clever tongue-in-cheek series of ads that feature people who refuse to believe they’re getting the best deal on KAYAK. “Do the research!” and “open your eyes!” shout characters who utterly disbelieve that this platform can find the best travel deals.
Why it works: As the expression goes, laughter is the best medicine. This campaign came along at the right time, offering the opportunity for everyone to laugh at themselves and let off some steam. Is it controversial? Well, the YouTube comments are turned off but the commercial still stands, meaning KAYAK knows their target audience well enough to get away with this one.
Each of these campaigns illustrates a sense of creative play. They work not only because they stand out from the crowd, but because they’re aligned with their brand and their target guest segments. By showcasing their personalities and unique offerings, these hotels and travel brands are able to connect with their guests and instead of convincing them to book, inspire them to stay. So go ahead and get creative! Who knows, you might just go viral.