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Best Group Marketing Campaign

Holiday Inn

For a marketing campaign to increase sales by 25%, to up online bookings by 90% and to grow a loyalty scheme’s database by 223% is no mean feat. What’s more, this success came during a huge dip in the hotels economy, at a traditionally slow time of year and feeling the impact of 11 September.

The judges were unanimous in awarding Holiday Inn’s massively successful “Under the Pillow” promotion this year’s Best Group Marketing Campaign Catey. They called the results of this carefully targeted, uncomplicated campaign “simply incredible”.

“To achieve £9.12m from a £2m investment is amazing,” commented judge Andrew McKenzie, managing director of the Vineyard at Stockcross, Berkshire.

The promotion came at a crucial time for the group, with trading difficult. Holiday Inn had recently bought the Posthouse chain, increasing from 25 hotels to 105, and was under pressure to show positive financial results by the end of its financial year in September 2002. “We needed more heads on beds… and fast,” the group admitted in its submission to Caterer.

The aim of the promotion was simple: to increase sales by 20%, to drive membership of its Priority Club; to increase unprompted awareness; to increase profitability of customer nights and to have a return of one-and-a-half times the investment.

Target market was clearly defined, too – midweek business travellers in the UK. And the group knew that staff had to be enthusiastic about the initiative to make it work.

So what did the campaign involve? A prize under every pillow during the campaign period created excitement and gave customers an instant reward – prizes varied from 1,000 Priority Club points to £1,000 in cash, and customers were asked to register with the Priority Club to claim their prize. The campaign also supported the Holiday Inn brand by promoting one of its key hallmarks as “a better night’s sleep through choice of pillows”.

The campaign was supported with radio and press advertising, direct mail, banners on the Holiday Inn website, and point-of-sale in every hotel reception and bedroom.

Return on investment was 400% over target, and not only were sales up, unprompted awareness rose from 44% to 52%, and online bookings increased by 90%.

“This entry shows quantifiable, legitimate figures,” said judge Pamela Carvell, owner of Pampas Training and Marketing.

“The results of this campaign are multidimensional,” added McKenzie. “They were achieved by a range of mechanisms, including radio, direct mail, digital newsletter, point-of-sale, internal briefing packs and the prize envelope/letter under each pillow.”

“This was a gamble that paid off and gets my top score,” said Hans Lindh, of American Express Establishment Services.

The judges were also impressed by the video and a short case history submitted to the Catey panel. All in all, a thoroughly professional campaign, they concluded. 


PAMELA CARVELL Owner, Pampas Training and Marketing
HANS LINDH Director of hotels and restaurants – Europe, American Express Establishment Services
ANDREW McKENZIE Managing director, the Vineyard at Stockcross
DAVID MENEER Marketing director, the Eden Project
MICHELLE OLIVER Head of marketing, Initial Catering Services
JACQUIE PERN Owner, the Star Inn

Previous Winners:

2002 Initial Catering
2001 Whitbread Hotel Company
2000 Debenhams Food Services
1999 Granada Food Services
1998 Perfect Pizza
1997 Radisson Edwardian Hotels
1996 Jarvis Hotels
1995 Roadchef Motorways
1994 Kirklees Metropolitan Council Catering Service
1993 Victoria & Albert Hotel, Manchester
1992 The Brewery, Chiswell Street
1991 Compass Services UK
1990 The Savoy, London
1989 Wimpy International British Telecom Catering
1987 Crest Hotels International
1986 Crest Hotels International
1985 Compass Services UK
1984 Berni Inns

Sponsored by: Nestlé FoodService

Sponsor message:

Nestlé Foodservices is delighted to be sponsoring the Catey award for the Best Group Marketing Campaign.

The out of home market continues to grow, with over 30% of all food and beverages consumed in the UK, now consumed out of home, and capturing a share of this growing market is becoming ever more challenging, with new outlets opening daily.

In order to help our customers build profitable businesses in this challenging marketplace, Nestlé is continuing to develop brand drived solutions, supported by clear consumer communication to generate interest and demand. The synergy this has with the Catey award for the Best Group Marketing Campaign, is the foundation of our continued support.

In today’s crowded world, effective communication is essential to success in business. Consumers have much more choice than before, so creativity, clarity of communication and excellence of execution are essential elements of consumer marketing strategies. This is particularly so when the recruitment of new customers and maintaining the loyalty of existing ones, is such an essential ingredient of success in the hospitality industry.

However, it is the results of the Campaign which really define its success. The Catey award for the Best Group Marketing Campaign is therefore presented to the company which is best judged to have achieved exceptional success, having set challenging objectives and implemented an innovative and exciting marketing campaign, while demonstrating a clear understanding of their customer needs.



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