Special Report: In-store marketing: Apple, CP link for in-hotel promotion

Last month, the international Council of Sales Promotion Agencies met in New York City to determine the finalists in its annual awards competition. Twenty finalists were chosen in 10 categories, from among hundreds of entries submitted by agencies around the world....

Last month, the international Council of Sales Promotion Agencies met in New York City to determine the finalists in its annual awards competition. Twenty finalists were chosen in 10 categories, from among hundreds of entries submitted by agencies around the world. Three of the finalists were Canadian. This report will consist of case studies of the three Canadian programs. Each has an in-store element.

For most business travellers, lineups are the bane of their existence.

The idea that these travel-weary ‘road warriors’ would line up for anything by choice is hard to imagine.

Yet, that is just what 50,000 of them did, at CP Hotels across the country, for the chance to win an assortment of prizes put up by Apple Canada and Canadian Pacific Hotels & Resorts, joint sponsors of the ‘in-hotel’ promotion.

The delivery vehicle for the sweepstakes was a waist-high interactive display – installed in the lobby of 23 cp hotel properties – which incorporated an Apple PowerBook computer and a printer.

An interactive software program designed specifically for this promotion introduced the strategic alliance between Apple and CP Hotels, outlined the prizes available, and encouraged the user to take part in the contest.

Business travellers who wanted to enter the sweepstakes were asked to type in their name, title, company, address, and phone and fax numbers.

They were also asked whether they would like to receive further information on Apple business products.

Once they had finished entering the pertinent information, the computer printed out either an instant win voucher for a $25 gift certificate to be redeemed for food or accommodation at any cp hotel, or a confirmation the individual’s name had been entered in the sweepstakes.

Sweepstakes prizes included three Apple PowerBook computers, 23 Newton message pad computers and 10 cp vacation packages.

The objective of the promotion was two-fold, says Barbara Ferrell, director of partnerships and international marketing at the Toronto-based hotel chain.

Ferrell says that was to position CP Hotels & Resorts as a top-of-mind choice for the younger business traveller, and, to lend Apple, which tends to be the computer of choice for young creative types, but less so for traditional business users, the equity associated with cp’s established, and establishment, image.

‘We knew from research we had done with business travellers, that although it was widely recognized that we had spent a great deal of money in refurbishing our products, and restoring our hotels to their original luxury, there was still a need to position them as a top-of-mind choice for the young, fastpaced business traveller,’ Ferrell says.

‘On the other side, CP Hotels & Resorts is a brand that has considerable equity in the Canadian market and Apple felt there was some value being aligned with that,’ she says.

‘It seemed like a great marriage.’

Ferrell says a secondary objective was to build a database of frequent business travellers, which both parties could use in future separate and joint marketing initiatives.

The joint promotion came about at the suggestion of The Gaylord Group, a division of bbdo, the Toronto-based ad agency that holds the Apple and CP Hotels accounts.

Kevin Astle, president and chief operating officer of Gaylord, says the bbdo account group had known for some time it was in the interest of both companies to talk to frequent business travellers, but no one had thought of a way to do it.

‘We said the best thing we can think of doing is emphasizing the relationship by creating a promotion that allows our target market to interact with Apple products in CP Hotels,’ Astle says

The contest, and the strategic alliance underlying it, were heavily promoted through newspaper advertising, airport signage and outdoor advertising.

As well, the contest was promoted on-site through inserts in guests’ registration folders and on posters.

And, finally, CP Hotels mailed its database of frequent business travellers a package advising them of its new relationship with Apple and inviting them to enter the contest.

As for results, in addition to obtaining valuable information on the 50,000 business travellers who entered the contest – not to mention the 4,800 more who filled out the coupons in their guest registration packages – CP Hotels saw a 9% increase in business over the promotion period, when compared with the previous year.

This was done without reducing rates, meaning CP Hotels was able to increase its net revenues.

‘We like to think that [the promotion] contributed to our results in the fourth quarter,’ Ferrell says.

‘You would be hard-pressed to demonstrate that in black and white, absolutely and finitely – but you have to believe it had something to do with it,’ she says.

The promotion ran last fall from Oct. 23 to Dec. 31.

Given its success, phase two is being rolled out now.