Hotels build database with contest

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Boutique hotel chain Desires Hotels has launched an online contest to build its database and to drive bookings.

The “E-Escapes” contest, which runs through October, is part of Desires' promotional effort for the launch of its new site, Site visitors can enter the contest by booking an E-Escape or by registering to receive e-promotions. The grand prize is airfare and a three-night stay for two at any Desires Hotel; the chain also is giving away weekly prizes, including 80GB iPods.

“We've been concentrating on online marketing and PR, and we wanted to get out to the public to get them to gain an interest in Desires through this contest,” said Doug Carrillo, the chain's senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Because we've got hotels in some great destinations, in lieu of what's going on in the economy, we thought that consumers might like to learn about Desires by staying at one hotel for a quick weekend.”

About 75% of Desires customers are Millennials or Generation Xers with an average household income of $75,000, Carrillo said.

With help from its creative agency, Open Ocean Creative, Desires is e-mailing consumers using the hotels' collective databases with a “forward to a friend” campaign about the contest and is exploring other viral campaigns as well. The hotel chain also is considering cooperative opportunities with Web sites such as Flickr and Photobucket, which Carrillo said share many of the same audience demographics and attributes as Desires.

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