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It's no exaggeration to say that if you missed the opening of the Ned hotel, the collaboration between Sydell Group and Soho House & Co and the largest and most ambitious hotel to launch in the City in 2017, you must have been living under a rock.
The 252-bedroom, 30,000 sq m property managed to drum up excitement and awareness both nationally and internationally, within and outside of the hospitality industry, making it a clear choice for the winner of this year's Best Marketing Campaign.
The Ned managed to cultivate a huge social media following through establishing clear objectives and defining its target market. On top of flooding social media feeds, it produced carefully placed interviews and exclusives, staged a teasing and cinematic social media campaign and engaged with key influencers, meaning it had nearly 43,000 Instagram followers within two months of opening.
In the seven days ahead of the launch in May, the hotel held dinners and parties for movers and shakers across media, music and fashion. The 1,500 ‘founder members' of the Ned's private club were invited to a free Sunday Feast all-day lunch, turning its members into ambassadors and creating a concept that now has an eight-week waiting list. The week was rounded off by a glittering opening party with nearly 2,000 guests, including A-listers and royalty, defining the Ned from the outset by filling its halls with influencers.
The hotel also used traditional media formats, publishing 15,000 copies of its own broadsheet-style newspaper, which it distributed throughout the building and offices across London and Manchester. It told the stories of the former Sir Edwin Lutyens-designed Midland Bank building, the facilities on offer and the neighbourhood.
What is perhaps most impressive about the Ned's launch campaign is the modest budget with which the team achieved their success. At no point was the hotel's social media campaign supported through paid advertising; all activity was organic.
As a result of this powerful marketing strategy, the Ned has run at an average occupancy of 87% since opening its doors, with an admirable average spend per guest reflecting the extremely high levels of resident retention across its various outlets.
The nine ground-floor restaurants, for example, serve more than 30,000 covers a week and a similar number for drinks at the bars. The hotel takes more food and beverage revenue than any other single site in the whole of central London, with average weekly F&B sales of almost £1m.
The hotel has also elevated its neighbours, bringing previously unimaginable weekend trade to the City and allowing surrounding businesses to extend their opening hours. This makes the Ned not only the most talked-about opening of the year, but also a huge driver behind the ongoing transformation of the City of London.
What the judges said
"This was the hotel everyone was talking about and everyone wanted to see. Yes, it's a great building with a fantastic heritage and history, but the launch was brilliantly planned and brilliantly executed."
"Fantastic PR coverage from a modest launch budget. Everyone was talking about this hotel, which was a clear objective that it set out to achieve. Very well-constructed and delivered."
Thaikhun, Thai Leisure Group
The Ned, London
The Refuge by Volta, Principal Manchester
Libby Andrews Head of marketing and PR, Pho
Ann Elliott Chief executive, Elliotts Agency
Anita Murray Chief executive, William Murray Communications
Sue Pimblett Marketing and communications manager, University of Leeds
James Newman Marketing director, Gusto
Samantha Ratcliffe Sales and marketing director, Oddfellows Hotels
Paul West Chief executive, Ignite Hospitality
Stephen Wilkinson Area manager and senior inspector, the AA
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