Having bought Butlins from The Rank Organisation in 2001, Bourne Leisure
conducted research which found visitors wanted more 'stylish'
accommodation. It invested £10m in the construction of its first
hotel - the Shoreline Hotel - at the Bognor Regis resort and hired
Launch PR to unveil it.
To create a newsworthy story that challenged traditional perceptions of
Butlins and to drive bookings.
Strategy and Plan
Realising that a hotel launch was not newsworthy in itself, and mindful
that the media might have an indifferent attitude to Butlins, Launch PR
decided to target news and travel sections by juxtaposing 'old'
Butlins - literally - with the new.
It built a replica 1930s Butlins chalet in the garden outside the
Shoreline Hotel, complete with furniture and fittings, so journalists
attending the 16 August opening could see for themselves how different
the new accommodation - with king-sized beds and plasma TVs - was.
Pinpointing B-group families as potential new customers, as well as
Butlins' traditional C1, C2 and D demographic, the team used 'from
chalet to Shoreline' as its slogan.
Invitations depicting a chalet alongside the Shoreline logo were sent to
news, travel, consumer affairs and features editors on all national
publications, trade and consumer magazines in mid-July. Two weeks later,
60 sets of Shoreline-branded bathrobes and slippers were sent to
national newspaper and consumer magazine travel editors, as well as
trade magazines, hinting at the plush service at the new hotel.
Launch followed this up by pitching directly to journalists, while the
in-house team focused on trade media. Journalists were treated to a day
of activities at the Shoreline, including live entertainment from
Shaolin monks, African and Russian acrobats and a photocall with
Tours of the hotel and interviews with Butlins MD John Dunford,
entertainments director Mike Godolphin and operations director Richard
Bates were also arranged.
Measurement and Evaluation
Romeike counted 29 articles in national newspapers including The Times,
The Sun, Daily Star, The Independent and Daily Mail. National
broadcasters including BBC TV, Radio 1, 2 and 4, ITV and Five covered
the event,as did consumer and trade magazines.
Web coverage featured on visitbritain.com, iVillage.co.uk, Guardian
Unlimited and bbc.co.uk. Launch claims that all mentions of the
accommodation were positive.
Eighty-eight journalists attended the launch and the 160-room hotel was
fully booked for its first month within a week of going live. This was
against fears that it would not sell out at all.
More than £17,000 worth of bookings were made at the £79 a
night hotel on the first day alone. Butlins is reportedly considering
two more hotels at its Minehead and Skegness property.
The Sun travel editor Lisa Minot says: 'The PR agency made an effort to
give us an exclusive story about a couple who had been to the resort 50
years earlier and returned for their 50th wedding anniversary. The
chalet idea worked well because it gained Butlins coverage in papers
such as The Daily Telegraph and The Independent.'