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Media buying strategy – branding of Condé Nast Traveller 13th Edition – ensures success for Dorchester Collection

Dorchester Collection is a truly unique collection of luxury properties. Although people were aware of the properties individually, there was a lack of awareness of the Collection as a whole. Initiative’s challenge was to build this awareness. Our goal was to help DC stand out amongst the world’s most prestigious brands, reach an extremely lucrative high net-worth audience, and ultimately drive bookings.

Research showed that our target audience has a passion for collecting, and we know that Dorchester Collection is bursting with wonderful collections – from Michelin-starred restaurants to luxurious spas.

Editorial content around elite collections would definitely appeal to our audience. So we created a bespoke “collecting” media environment – the Condé Nast Traveller magazine Collectors’ Edition. This was a complete replica of the standard CNT magazine, but themed entirely around collections. DC owned all advertising and advertorial space in this 13th edition.

The new platform subtly weaved the nine DC properties together as a single entity in the minds of our audience, boosting brand awareness, whilst continuing to highlight each hotel’s uniqueness through seamlessly integrated advertorials.

A multi-media campaign used to launch the editions included taxi advertising, micro-sites, online videos and bespoke launch events. We also supported the editions with adverts and advertorials in other luxury press.

In the UK, among those who read the edition, 92% agreed that it increased their awareness of Dorchester Collection, and 4% were actually encouraged to book a room. In the US, 60% said they are likely to book in the future.

Background to Campaign
Dorchester Collection (DC) includes nine of the world’s greatest hotels. Unlike its rivals, DC is a unique and distinctive collection of super luxury properties, rather than simply “another upmarket chain”.

Our audience, the high net-worth global traveller, was aware of these prestigious properties individually, for example The Beverly Hills Hotel in LA and The Dorchester in London, but awareness of the Collection as a whole was low - due to DC being a new brand entity. Our brief was to cement Dorchester Collection in the minds of our audience, as a brand comprised of some of the world’s most historic and alluring hotel destinations.

Our challenge was to build brand awareness globally, but particularly in the US and UK, with a budget dwarfed by our competitors’. In the words of a senior DC executive: “I want the person sitting next to me in 1st class of any plane to know of Dorchester Collection and what it represents.”

A print campaign in 2009 had delivered desirability for individual properties. But our audience did not understand that, combined, these hotels were part of one of the world’s ultimate luxury hotel collections.

Rigorous research showed that this audience is media savvy, with strong established preferences towards specific channels and publications. But they are time-poor with a limited interest in overt display advertising, so cutting through the high-end clutter and communicating with these people in an environment that they relish, and in a manner that they appreciate, would be our core objective.

Our goal was crystal clear – to help DC stand out amongst the world’s most illustrious brands, to grow recognition amongst our lucrative high net-worth audience, and ultimately to drive room bookings in each of DC’s nine unique properties.

As this audience is defined by their preferences in destination, hotel, food, people, and every other facet of life, Dorchester Collection was confident that once they experienced their signature hotels, restaurants and spas they would become loyal guests of the wider Collection for life.

Extensive research showed that our high net-worth travellers are driven by a passion for collecting, everything from travel mementos and life experiences to antiquities and fine art.

We also know that Dorchester Collection is bursting with wonderful collections – from Michelin starred restaurants and unforgettable bars to luxurious spas and architectural masterpieces.

Editorial content around elite and fascinating collections from around the world would definitely appeal to our audience. By creating and owning relevant “collecting” media environments we would be able to develop a communications platform that would connect with this audience in an appealing, interesting and impactful, but most importantly unobtrusive, manner.

The new platform would subtly weave the nine properties together as a single entity in the minds of our audience, boosting brand awareness for the Collection, whilst at the same time continuing to highlight their unique and distinctive features.

Dorchester Collection already had some extremely impressive creative. Five DPS executions featuring 21 of the Collections’ historic celebrity guests such as Albert Einstein, Andy Warhol, Grace Kelly and Brigitte Bardot had wowed in 2009.

Implementation of Strategy
Using our strategic “collections” platform, we developed a solution that took the brand in a whole new direction, allowing us to bring these beautiful creative assets to life in a new setting and maximise impact.

Our solution: Dorchester Collection would partner with a high net-worth targeted magazine, Condé Nast Traveller (CNT), to create a truly bespoke Collectors’ Edition for our key markets – their first ever 13th edition!

PR and editorial coverage in CNT had always generated uplift for Dorchester Collection, and the magazine has the highest reach against the DC traveller audience. There was a great affinity already in place and from a media targeting perspective; wastage was at an absolute minimum.

In terms of style and format this 13th Edition was a complete replica of the standard CNT editions. From the opening Editors’ letter to the closing “Room with a View” feature, it included all core sections and columns. But, in this edition everything was focused on a collecting theme and DC owned all advertising and advertorial space.

The US and UK editions were distributed to the full circulation of the main titles, on news-stands and subscriptions, with prominent DC branding throughout. Run-ons were also distributed in all DC hotels and still grace the rooms today.

CNT, as an organisation, had never collaborated on an international project of this scale. Having both the editorial and sales teams working together in multiple markets was not only a massive task, but also a media first for the group.

It was the perfect platform to showcase all DC properties. As DC had sole rights to all advertising pages, we were able to place all 5 DPS ads in one publication for the first time, increasing the awareness of each hotel and its distinctive features, whilst simultaneously binding the Collection together under one brand.

Bespoke advertorials were then used to tell the story of the prestigious collections within the group. This seamless integration of editorial and advertising created an unforgettable reader experience, and the results speak for themselves:

A multi-media campaign was used to launch the Editions including taxi advertising, micro-sites, e-blasts and online videos. Bespoke Collectors’ Edition launch events generated buzz amongst the elite hotelier community, which was amplified further through social media.

We supported the editions in other luxury press, using ads and advertorials simultaneously to reinforce the collection theme. We used relevant contexts for each title; i.e. the collection of DC interiors was explored in House & Garden, and the collection of DC spas was showcased in Travel & Leisure.

Our campaign has successfully reached high net-worth travellers and exceeded all expectations in both raising awareness, but also importantly in driving bookings.

In the UK, 44% of CNT readers read the Collectors’ Edition, and a further 24% planned to do so soon – Among those who read it:

  • 92% agreed that it increased their awareness of the Dorchester Collection brand
  • Unprompted ad-recall rose from 24th to 7th position in the hotel category – above Four Seasons and Sheraton, DC’s two key competitors.
  • 92% agreed that the advertorials told them more about the Dorchester Collection hotels and facilities
  • 67% agreed they would research further for information on Dorchester Collection.
  • 38% planned to book into one of the Dorchester Collection hotels on their next holiday/business trip.
  • 4% actually booked or intended to book a room at a DC hotel in the near future –13,000 new guests (based on total CNT readership).

In the US, 70% of CNT readers read the Collectors’ Edition, and 98% of these were interested in the content – Among those who read it:

  • 58% agreed that it increased their awareness of the hotels that make up Dorchester Collection
  • 33% kept the Edition for future reference
  • 60% said they are likely to book a room in a DC hotel in the future.

Client Testimonial
“The finished product belies all the ground work that went into its creation and into all of the supporting initiatives. It is a joy that so much effort was so well received and that the finished article looks even better than we could have imagined.”
Helen Smith, Vice-president Sales & Marketing, Dorchester Collection

This case study was awarded a Commendation in the category of media planning and buying strategy at The Drum Marketing Awards

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