Carlson's new push aims to boost traveler appeal

MINNEAPOLIS: Carlson Hotels has embarked on a national brand awareness campaign to boost the appeal of its brands, Radisson and Country Inns & Suites, to business and leisure travelers.

MINNEAPOLIS: Carlson Hotels has embarked on a national brand awareness campaign to boost the appeal of its brands, Radisson and Country Inns & Suites, to business and leisure travelers.

The efforts, which will cost about $250,000, were developed after internal research showed Radisson lacked brand awareness, and Country Inns appealed primarily to leisure travelers, according to Joan Cronson, director of PR and communications at Carlson Hotels Worldwide. Based on the data, Radisson refocused its services to suit business travelers by offering free Internet and breakfast, and flexible check-ins, Cronson said. These changes are intended to appeal to businesses that are cutting travel amid economic uncertainty, she added.

It promoted these changes by reaching out to business newspapers, travel publications and sites, and bloggers, targeting Generation Y and X travelers and baby boomers. Next, the team is conducting broadcast outreach targeted at radio stations in the top 25 metropolitan markets. Plans also include incorporating messaging in feature stories in the next issue of the hotel's Voyageur magazine, Cronson noted.

For Country Inns, Carlson is targeting business travelers and families looking for budget accommodations. The hotel chain, which has about 450 hotels nationwide, has the strongest brand awareness among female business and leisure travelers, added Laurie Bauer, senior PR director at Carlson Hotels Worldwide.

"Based on that trend, we thought there was probably a big opportunity to appeal to a broader business audience," she says.

Country Inns is conducting an SMT and reaching out to local morning news shows and travel bloggers. The brand is also venturing into social marketing through two microsites set to launch this June. One effort, through YouTube, invites the public to send videos about how they represent business casual.

"When we say business casual, it's not... how you dress, but it's asking, 'Do you do things differently when you're on the road?'" Bauer notes.

The other site will provide family travel tips and solicit visitors to send videos of their family vacations.

Axiom Marketing Communications and Fast Horse assisted on the campaigns.

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