Companies often pay top dollar to PR and media agencies for help to gain exposure and increase brand awareness. With so many self-proclaimed social media gurus and experts tweeting and connecting in Facebook, you would think there are more successful campaigns out there. This is just not the case. When a campaign is truly successful, it deserves a nod. So this post is dedicated to a highly successful brand awareness campaign of 2010 – The Anywhere Challenge by Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG).
The Anywhere Challenge has Brought Great Excitement to Members
Like elemental Magnesium, online marketing campaigns and user contests are ubiquitous these days. Some perform well but The Anywhere Challenge put on by IHG has performed exceedingly well. There are still two weeks left in the contest and it has brought great excitement and user participation to IHG members.
The object of the contest is to bring awareness to the Hotels Anywhere program that allow Intercontinental Hotels Group members to redeem Priority Club Rewards points for any participating hotel, even competitors of IHG.
“Hotels Anywhere, is the first and only hotel industry redemption option that allows members to redeem loyalty points for more than 73,000 hotels all over the world, even our direct competitor.”
What a neat concept! I can now use my Priority Club Rewards points to book any one of the tens of thousands of participating hotels worldwide, including a direct competitor of the IHG family (Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn / Express, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge and Candlewood). Imagine if the airline industry also introduced a share-a-point system? There would be a lot more happier travelers out there.
The contest gives an opportunity for members to try and correctly guess a worldwide location for prizes and Priority Club Rewards points. Each new day of the weekly contest, members receive an additional clue along with a few photo elements that are revealed in a Flash based slideshow. Here is an example of what a typical week’s clues may look like:
To see the actual clue slider in action, you can view The Anywhere Challenge here.
Increasing Brand Awareness and User Engagement
There are a few online conversations that closely follow this contest but the most active one is located at FlyerTalk.com. Each day, many users compare and trade tips to try and figure out the answer. The contest has only been running a few weeks and the FlyerTalk.com thread has already accumulated over 3,000 replies and 500,000 views! In fact, this thread is so long, the administrators created a second thread to make it easier for users to discuss the remaining weeks of the contest. It is actually a surprise to see this contest getting users to talk more than just contest answers. Here are a few fun examples of users discussing potential future vacation travels and even a quick history lesson:
- mealto – fun history lesson of Malaysia – addressed to the creators of this contest
- gpapadop – contest inspired him to possibly visit a new location
- Motors – attempt to crack the code by extracting images from the Flash file
- imchaz – identified matching Shutterstock.com images used in contest
- DealDetective – doing some great sleuthing
- margharita girl – dashboard of answers and winners
With all of this attention on The Anywhere Challenge contest, there is no absolutely no denying that IHG increased brand awareness over the last few weeks. So does all of this extra awareness translate into?
Increased Brand Awareness is Always a Good Thing
It would be difficult for anyone not working at IHG to figure out their global sales but, I do know IHG has gained at least 1 more loyal customer. Not only did this contest allow me to earn a few extra points for my own Priority Club Rewards account, I now know I can use these points towards any hotel that is participating in the Hotels Anywhere program. In fact, the extra few thousand points from this contest allowed me to achieve Ambassador status so you can bet I am going to choose Intercontinental Hotels where possible on future trips to take full advantage of all benefits that come along with this status upgrade. This coupled with the fact that IHG has been running a Friends and Family discount deal over the last year has made IHG properties my first choice of hotels for all my travels.
During this worldwide economic downturn where hotels are no longer fully selling out rooms and are more often than not are selling them at a reduced rate, The Anywhere Challenge contest is a great driver to try and fill some of these unbooked rooms. Yes, IHG does give out massive points for this contest but if it brings in more customers, more often and helps to fill some of those empty rooms, it can only better IHG’s financials come year end.
For a contest that generates this much attention for IHG, a well-deserved pat on the back goes out to the creators of The Anywhere Challenge contest. This is truly a great example of a highly successful brand awareness campaign.