Best Western said that bookings from “lower funnel channels of search and metasearch” were up 27% last summer compared to 2019, before the pandemic. Best Western also said it saw success with brand advertising goals when it returned to Facebook and Instagram last year. He studied “ad recall,” how many people remembered seeing ads, and said it was “156% above the Facebook Travel norm.”
Best Western is an example of how major brands are making adjustments to the new data regulations, and how companies are coming out of the pandemic with a new mindset. At the height of the pandemic, US hotel occupancy rates fell to about 20%, and it has been creeping back up closer to pre-pandemic levels, but the comeback has been jagged. To start the year, the omicron variant stalled the return of business travel, for instance.
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Glomski points to another example: Best Western is using data to predict when a guest is likely to cancel, which has been one of the major problems during the pandemic. “We needed to go and adjust our CPMs [cost per thousand views of ads]—our bids, our frequency capping, our creative,” Glomski said, “when we predict this is actually a consumer that’s in the market versus one that’s potentially going to cancel because there is an uptick in COVID.”
Best Western would not reveal details about its marketing budget in 2022, like how much it spent compared to 2020 or how much goes toward search, social, connected TV, TV and out-of-home. Best Western works with third-party location services like Foursquare, which owns PlaceIQ, to help track when ad views lead to fulfilled bookings. And Best Western’s programmatic ad buying across the internet and connected TV goes through The Trade Desk, the demand side platform, Dowling said.
PMG has to “ensure that they’re not burning cash and that we’re really buying effectively for each property and each room, every night,” Glomski said.
Best Western plans to launch a TikTok account over the summer, Dowling said, gaining a foothold in one of the fastest-growing social channels. The hotel chain has already been active on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. The bigger push this year is into loyalty programs, as most hotels have seen the writing on the wall in terms of needing to generate closer relationships with consumers.
“This is the year of loyalty,” Dowling said. “The loyalty program is the focal point of the recovery, for all the reasons that we know, with cookies going away for privacy,” Dowling said. The loyalty program helps “integrate our advertising in a much more sophisticated way.”