How putting 'Kids in charge' revived a Malaysia hotel's fortunes

Case study: Go Communictions gave kids power over a hotel renovation project, significantly boosting the establishment's occupancy rate.

The work described here won Product Brand Development Campaign of the Year in the PRWeek Awards Asia.

Objective

The brief was to educate and advise the target audience that the Thistle Hotel resort in Port Dickson was changing its focus to become a family hotel. In addition, explain that the hotel would undergo a multimillion dollar renovation to accommodate the family experience. Another challenge was to publicise that the hotel had a new name—Thistle—which was relatively unknown to the target audience and media in Malaysia and the region. Port Dickson once a thriving resort destination for Malaysians particularly from Kuala Lumpur had over the last few years lost its shine and ‘must-go’ destination for Malaysians. There were also few attractions in Port Dickson in the hotel to entice visitors. Port Dickson had quickly been overtaken as a resort destination by places like Langkawi,Terengganu and Penang. These destinations had heavy publicity campaigns with major advertising spend. The occupancy was below 50 per cent and the hotel had a rather tarnished image resonating form the previous owner.

Strategy

The strategy was to create a world first campaign called ‘Kids’ In Charge’ to show the hotel was changing its focus to a family destination and undergoing renovations. Through the media a publicity campaign was undertaken to invite ‘kids’ between the age of 8 and 14 to apply to become ‘Directors’ of the Thistle Port Dickson resort. All candidates who applied were interviewed by the Thistle Hotel General Manager and Agency Chief Operating Officer as to why they would like to become a director and what they can contribute. Following the interviews 10 kids were chosen to become directors. At each Board Meeting the kids were given a specific agenda as to what they would like to see and experience in a family hotel. All the kids were given a Director’s uniform to wear and use during the board meetings. Selected media were invited to observe and report on the Board Meetings.

Results

The media publicity during the campaign period exceeded RM 9 million. The return on investment was over 13,000 per cent. The occupancy rate at the hotel increased from below 50 per cent to over 90 per cent two months into the ‘Kids’ In Charge’ campaign. Through the high impact publicity in all media from print, online and television the hotel ranked number one on Trip Advisor for Malaysian hotels.

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