Best Western and Disney Channel Get Real

For many families, summer is a season reserved for sticky, popsicle-stained fingers, days lounging by the local pool, and family vacations—which means big business for hotel chains. David Greenberg, director of advertising and creative services for Best Western International, says June to August is the prime time to target families and leisure travelers. Hence, the global hotel chain partnered with cable network Disney Channel to launch an augmented reality app designed to appeal to families and drive brand engagement.

Hotel guests who download the Best Western ALIVE! app, powered by augmented reality platform provider Aurasma, can pose next to a “standee” (a self-standing display promoting a movie) featuring stars from Disney Channel’s new musical movie Teen Beach Movie, and then use the app to choose which character they’d like to take a picture with, wait for the character to “come to life” and strike his or her own pose, snap the photo, and share the photo on their social networks.  Greenberg says Best Western has partnered with Disney Channel before, such as by promoting its TV program Shake it Up last year, and says that the app and social shares rejuvenate the 67-year-old hotel brand.

“It’s always good anytime you have folks taking these pictures [and] putting them on social media. It continues to put our name out,” he says. “Best Western is an amazing brand, and it’s been around for quite a long time. At the same time, we want to do everything we can to make sure that the brand is contemporary, vital, and youthful. And anything where we’re having folks share and talk about things on social media and things that are high tech and cutting edge is a great way to do that for Best Western.”

And because Disney Channel’s programming primarily targets kids between the ages of six and 14 years old, Best Western included an age gate that prevents kids under the age of 13 from sharing photos via the app to abide by COPPA regulations.

Greenberg also notes that the app is an experience for families already staying at a Best Western hotel rather than a promotion to lure families into staying at their hotels. Hence, Best Western is only promoting the app via its email marketing and website instead of its mass media channels. Greenberg adds that the app aligns with Best Western’s “Stay with People who Care” advertising.

Although Greenberg declined to reveal how many downloads the app has generated, it has earned a 2.7 out of five star rating, according to Google Play.

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