Cateys 2022: Best Marketing Campaign Award: Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course

05 July 2022 by
Cateys 2022: Best Marketing Campaign Award: Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course

Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course wins Best Marketing Campaign Award, sponsored by Braehead Foods

Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course won this award for its Dine Under the Stars initiative, for which the hotel invested in five outdoor domes, increasing restaurant capacity from 560 to 814 covers during the pandemic.

The domes received a lot of press coverage and bookings after the initial launch in 2020 and the hotel decided to prolong this interest with the launch of its Titan Sky Bar – the UK's largest dome bar at 80 sq m. It opened in November 2021, and can hold up to 40 guests at cocktail tables or 32 for private dining.

But Meldrum was determined to further capitalise on the domes and use them to attract a new clientele to the hotel – both residents and non-residents – who wished to try a new luxurious experience. The marketing team used social media to target younger consumers, using the dome's Instagram appeal, which led to hundreds of new bookings – 65% of dome diners were non-residents with a significant shift to a younger 25- to 45-year-old audience which may not have previously visited the hotel.

Different packages were created, including a Time To Celebrate, a night at the hotel and dinner in a dome; Dine Under the Stars, based around a special dome menu; and Wish Upon a Star, aimed at guests who wish to propose to their partner, offering dinner in a dome followed by Champagne in the private 400-year-old dovecot, where 100 candles are lit ready for the guest to pop the question.

Catey judges described the campaign as "innovative and comprehensive", while press coverage involved rapturous praise from the likes of OK! magazine, The Times Scotland, Luxury Lifestyle, Daily Express and Master of Malt, as well as being featured in The Times Top 100 UK hotels in Oct 2021.

The return speaks for itself. The hotel spent £200,000 installing the four domes and the Titan Sky Bar, while only £10,000 was budgeted for all marketing initiatives, with £3,500 of this spent on a video for the website and a further £1,500 on photography.

At the time of nomination, the hotel has seen £280,000 from dome hire and 23,852 people have dined since July 2020, with an average spend of £42 per head, equating to just over £1m in revenue. The hotel estimates this will hit £2.25m by the end of the financial year. The hotel has also seen a 25% increase in people staying overnight, while the campaign has also created five new full-time positions and eight part-time jobs. A huge return on investment during a turbulent time for the industry.

What the judges said

"The Meldrum team knew they would have to think innovatively to meet changing consumer needs and achieve business objectives. I was impressed that they weren't afraid to change, improve and invest further to increase return. It was brilliant to read how this successful example of collaboration and innovation will continue to motivate their team ambitions in the future." – Sarah Collins

"This is an innovative and comprehensive marketing campaign with strategic grounding and strong evidence of clear, measurable objectives that delivered exceptional ROI." – Alix White

The shortlist

  • Crerar Hotels
  • Meldrum House Country Hotel & Golf Course, Aberdeenshire
  • Northcote, Lancashire
  • The Goring, London
  • The Coniston Hotel Country Estate & Spa, North Yorkshire
  • The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, Bath

The judges

  • Sarah Collins, marketing manager, Rick Stein Group
  • Jeremy Gibson, marketing director, Hospitality Action
  • Diane Howarth, director, Cottage in the Dales
  • Alix White, director of communications and marketing, the Seren Collection
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