InterContinental Hotels, the luxury brand of the InterContinental Hotels Group, has embarked on a three-year campaign to target affluent leisure travellers for the first time, having previously focused on business guests.
The Secrets of the City campaign revolves around the idea of ‘Insider Experiences’ across food, culture, art and fashion which have been curated by the managers of individual hotels.
At an exclusive launch event hosted in the Royal Suite of its London Park Lane hotel, brand director Clare Chapoulet told The Drum that the leisure traveller accounts for circa 52 per cent of InterContinental’s European business.
To delve deeper into how they should be targeted Chapoulet invited the most frequent guests and members of its Royal Ambassador loyalty scheme to a private dinner.
“It was a session on what they thought was unique about InterContinental. They said that our hotels have been around for such a long time, are ingrained in the heritage of cities, and the general managers know those discreet places that people want to go to,” she explained.
Born out of this insight, the ‘Insider Experiences’ are based on partnerships which have been cultivated with local businesses. For example, in London a ‘Made in Mayfair’ experience takes guests on an exclusive tour of Royal perfumery Floris or on a visit to Foster & Son, London’s oldest bespoke shoemaker.
“Secrets of the City is not about getting the best seat at the theatre, or getting into the best restaurant,” she said. “It is about those really special, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”
Central to the campaign is a short film from creative agency JWT and director Marco Gentile which aims to capture the essence of a luxury guest experience and how InterContinental can ‘open the door’ to them.
It will be seeded across social and digital channels, with Mindshare handling planning and buying, as well as print across Europe and USA. Locally, people have been encouraged to suggest their own city experiences on social using the hashtag #intercontinentalsecrets.
This is the first piece of activity to come out of a three year plan to target leisure guests. It will initially launch in London, Paris and Tel Aviv with more cities set to be added in the coming months.
Chapoulet said an above-the-line campaign had not been ruled out, but initial research suggested the guests it has targeted are time-poor and have a tendency to consume content from luxury brands on digital channels.
“When we talked to them about where they were experiencing Chanel or Louis Vuitton they said they were multi-screen people and the content they pick up is digital. Also, dwell time on digital is so much longer and these are stories need to be told,” she added.
InterContinental will also target people using its loyaly scheme with personalised emails and messages through its mobile app.
Chapoulet declined to comment on the investment, but said: “You can see from the quality from the assets we’re producing that we’re investing heavily for the future.”
The hotels industry has seen increasing competiton from the likes of Airbnb. The accommodation-rental site positions itself as a way to let travellers 'live like a local' and last year made no sectret of its intent to offer experiences to its users.
Chief executive Brian Chesky said: “We think there’s huge opportunities for other services on top of accommodation. If I’m coming to London, what do I do in London? We think we have an opportunity to enhance your trip and enhance your experience,”
It is expected that the new service will allow locals to sell tours and other experiences, although the plans are still under development.