Holiday Inn Campaign Rouses Slumping Reservations

Spend a night at a Holiday Inn in Britain and you could wake up richer by 1,000 pounds, or $1,400.

Called the “Thousand Pound Pillow,” the $1.7 million promotion offers business travelers the opportunity to pick up a voucher worth that much if they stay Monday through Thursday night at a Holiday Inn.

“They have really been struggling because of the mini-recession, and their reservations have fallen off,” said Gary Sharpen, creative partner of Holiday Inn interactive agency Leonardo, London.

Holiday Inn has 105 hotels and 16,000 rooms across Britain.

“It's really just the whole travel marketplace has been hit, but it's not Sept. 11. It's just that the marketplace is slackening,” said Jane Griffiths, business director at Leonardo.

So, through May 9, Holiday Inn will place an envelope under a pillow in every room. Each envelope will contain a prize. In all, the giveaways include 48 1,000 pound prizes, 1,008 envelopes with 15,000 Priority Club points and another 1,008 envelopes with 10,000 points. Every envelope will contain at least a voucher for 1,000 points.

“The thought is, 'Look under your pillow and you might not be so sleepy,'” Sharpen said.

Priority Club points can be redeemed at Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Court Hotels worldwide as part of the Six Continents' Priority Club. Six Continents Hotels owns, manages, leases or franchises more than 3,260 hotels in 100 countries and territories. Brands owned by Six Continents include Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Inter-Continental, Centra, Forum and Parkroyal.

To rouse support for the “Thousand Pound Pillow” program, Holiday Inn has mailed 70,000 Priority Club members and nonmembers in Britain. The goal is to encourage repeat visits, particularly from business travelers.

The call to action in the one-time self-mailer is to specifically invite recipients to reserve a room at Holiday Inn. Advertising on British radio stations through Newslink and Trafficlink will support the promotion. Holiday Inn has also taken out ads in national daily and Sunday newspapers like The Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Times and The Sunday Times.

Online, plugs in e-mail newsletters to Holiday Inn's database and pop-ups ads on a promotional area on will round off the marketing effort.

“Again, everything's driving people to reserving at Holiday Inn,” Griffiths said. “All online advertising drives the reader to to make a reservation.”

Holiday Inn approached Leonardo in December about the campaign. The chain's goal was to increase weekday occupancy before the end of its financial year in March. Leonardo took eight weeks to deliver the campaign from brief to material.

“We also needed to increase membership of the Priority Club,” Sharpen said. “We have just heard that week one has resulted in a 110 percent increase.”

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