How Choice Hotels excelled by convincing overworked Australians to take a break

Case study: Australia and New Zealand have some of the highest rates of unused annual leave among the world’s developed nations. Choice Hotels Asia-Pacific’s ‘Need a Break’ campaign encouraged workers to take short breaks.

This article originally appeared in The Serve Issue, our October/November print edition of Marketing magazine. 

 

Campaign: Need a Break

Client: Choice Hotels Asia-Pacific

Agency: Gravia Media and Akkomplice Group Australia

 

Background

Choice Hotels Asia-Pac has more than 250 properties across Australia, New Zealand and Singapore.

According to Roy Morgan Research, Australians have 134 million days of annual leave accrued between them, amounting to 16 days each. In fact, more than one third (34%) of the nation’s 8.5 million paid workers have four or more weeks’ worth of annual leave accrued.

Both Australia and New Zealand have some of the highest rates of unused annual leave compared
to other developed nations and, accordingly, our paid workers suffer stress due to various key factors such as work and family responsibilities.

Recognising this as a strong marketing opportunity, Choice Hotels Asia-Pac began internally brainstorming how best to use these reports and ultimately encourage Aussies and Kiwis to use their annual leave for domestic getaways. In 2017, Choice Hotels Asia-Pac and agency partners, including Gravia Media and Akkomplice Group Australia, began laying down the foundation for their new integrated marketing campaign, ‘Need a Break’, as a catalyst for a short break mentality.

The campaign launched on 5 June.

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Objectives

  • Inspire Australians and New Zealanders to take regular short breaks of one to three nights,
  • develop a strong, multi-channel, lear-long campaign to encourage the population to take short breaks in order to safeguard their mental wellbeing and better manager stress levels from day-to-day life, and
  • position Choice Hotels Asia-Pac as a leader in the ‘short break’ leisure market within the Australian and New Zealand hotel industry and be top-of-mind for consumers looking to these types of getaways.

 

Strategy

With the release of the Roy Morgan report, the decision to create a campaign around using annual leave was apparent. After several internal discussions with various stakeholders, Choice Hotels Asia-Pac decided on a short break focus, in which an emphasis would be placed on getting people to go on short getaways ranging from one to three nights away from home.

  • Why short breaks as a focus?

MK1017 200Short break getaways are more affordable and therefore more achievable for households of all incomes and demographic profiles. Choice Hotels Asia-Pac wanted to provide solutions to alleviate stress for everyone. Short breaks are also far easier to plan and this was an important consideration when offering solutions to the time-poor, stressed out population.

With research (Choice Hotels’ ‘Need a Break’ report) showing that a short break is the most desired way for people to relieve stress and with Choice Hotels having such a wide range of accommodation offerings all over the country, focusing on short breaks was a no-brainer.

The first step in getting the campaign off the ground was to ensure messaging would resonate with consumers. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to promote that Australians and New Zealanders are in need of a break from stress if they’re not actually stressed.

Choice Hotels Asia-Pac commissioned independent researcher First Point Consulting to conduct an online survey of approximately 1000 Australians and 1000 New Zealanders in March 2017. The aim was to garner insights into the motivations, interests and barriers of those taking short breaks, identifying behavioural and attitudinal trends.

The research surveyed males and females aged 18 and older, from households earning a minimum of $50,000, across every state and representing a diverse range of professions.

The main target audiences were split into three age groups – Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers. Through the ‘Need a Break’ report, Choice was then able to further understand the different stress factors and solutions of each generation given age gaps and behaviours.

The results were astonishing.

Over two-thirds (67%) of Australians were experiencing moderate to extreme levels of stress. This led to almost a quarter of Australians (24%) not taking a single break in 2016.

Even outside of the workplace, Australians do not seem to be taking breaks, with 40% of families with children agreeing they could not go away on short breaks due to activities and other commitments.

The ‘Need a Break’ report identified that across the board, regular short break holidays were the number one preferred solution to relieving stress, ranked above exercise, alcohol, shopping, sleep, a bath, food and even sex.

The report showed that 75% of Australians felt they had a greater work-life balance back in their lives, with most of them feeling happier and experiencing a closer connection with their partners and children.

 

Execution

Following the survey results, Choice Hotels Asia-Pac went all-in to develop elements for its integrated, ultilayered campaign. In Australia, the campaign included key initiatives such as the launch of a new website (needabreak.com), the branding and wrapping of a Jetstar plane, a new TVC, sponsorship on Channel Nine’s Today breakfast show, large-format location-specific outdoor advertising, targeted radio advertising within the Hamish and Andy Drive Show, digital, social media and PR.

The overall campaign elements included the following initiatives to create awareness and heighten the importance of taking short breaks:

  • Website: needabreak.com provides Australians and New Zealanders with inspiration, tips and advice for taking short breaks. The content hub includes destination reviews and a unique itinerary planner. It also incorporated a quick and easy booking facility to all Choice properties.
  • TVC: Choice secured a daily TVC sponsorship with Australia’s top-rated morning breakfast show Today. The clever creative shows an office descending into chaos after a seemingly innocent and relatively innocuous source of irritation sets off a chain reaction of events, ultimately ending with a photocopier in flames being thrown out of a building. Additionally, Choice secured an on-air segment highlighting the benefits of short breaks.
  • Plane wrap: this same creative theme is replicated onto a branded Jetstar plane, which flew across Australia and New Zealand, carrying travellers to a wide range of destinations. The image used for the plane wrap emitted the same emotional theme that was portrayed in the TVC.
  • Outdoor: advertising also used the creative theme of an office descending into chaos. Billboards highlighting the campaign were placed around targeted locations. Through location-specific advertising, Choice targeted those who may be stuck in traffic.
  • Radio: Choice secured a partnership with Austereo to sponsor the drive time traffic and news segments during the Hamish and Andy Drive Show in Australia. This hit peak hour drivers – often the time when they desire a getaway the most.
  • Digital and social: while the above the line elements of the campaign were targeted towards driving awareness, digital and social elements were aimed at converting hotel reservations. Choice invested heavily in setting up an attribution model and sophisticated tracking to ensure it could measure the impact needabreak.com was having on converted sales through choicehotels.com.au and choicehotels.co.nz.

Programmatic display advertising drove consumers to the needabreak.com platform and then through understanding their destination interests and desires, retargeted them with booking offers.

Key social media channels, predominantly Facebook and Instagram, were then used to feed out and promote the content within the needabreak.com platform.

 

 

Results

To date, the needabreak.com website has had over 75,000 visits since its launch in June and, by tracking the user journey, Choice Hotels has been able to largely attribute this campaign to current YOY reservation growth of over 20% through the Choice websites.

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