Travelodge relaunch campaign focused on digital PR, says comms chief

The UK's largest independent hotel chain brought in Halpern and Eulogy to boost the cut-through of a major ad campaign lined up following financial troubles last year, its communications director Shakila Ahmed tells PRWeek.

Halpern's 3D postcard idea (pictured at Waterloo) supported the 'Get Up & Go' ad campaign
Halpern's 3D postcard idea (pictured at Waterloo) supported the 'Get Up & Go' ad campaign

The £25m 'Get Up & Go' ad campaign comes after a £57m investment in modernising the company's estate, including everything from the online booking process to the look and feel of the actual hotel rooms.

The campaign, which was created by CHI & Partners, was heavily weighted towards television and supported by OOH and social media activity, according to Ahmed.

"We're on a journey to become the UK's favourite brand for value," says Ahmed. "Historically people thought of us very much as a roadside chain but today less than 20% of our estate is roadside.

"Travelodge has changed – we started the modernisation programme in March 2013 and by this autumn 82% of our hotels will have gone through that – so we felt it was the right time now to tell the public 'this is a new Travelodge' and to inspire them to get up and go."

To support the ad campaign, Ahmed enlisted the help of Halpern, which is part of the same group as CHI & Partners, and Eulogy! to work alongside Travelodge's in-house PR team.

Ahmed says: "I had a small amount of money left [from the campaign budget] and Halpern came up with an idea that took us out of our comfort zone and really used social media as the bedrock of a PR campaign.

"I also wanted to do something to send out to 200 journalists and Eulogy! came up with the idea of a box of bespoke marshmallows called 'Flavours of Britain', which I found money out of my own budget to do."

Halpern's idea was to use 3D street art allowing people to be photographed either abseiling down the white cliffs of Dover or waterskiing along the Thames. It was trialled at London Waterloo railway station on 22 May.

"The idea was to give the public a photograph that they could straight away upload to social media to create a digital buzz and also to make them think about actually going out and trying something exciting," says Ahmed.

"We don't see ourselves as the final destination – we think of ourselves as an enabler; we know you're not coming specifically to stay in our room but that you need somewhere to stay when you're going to a wedding, to visit family and friends or going to a football match.

"That's what makes us different to other hotel brands that try to keep you in their rooms. Our brand proposition is to give you everything you need for a good, clean, comfortable stay and to enable you to go and do something special, like have dinner at The Ivy or go to see a show with the money you've saved from not having to spend hundreds of pounds on a hotel room."

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