If a family is 50 miles out of Yellowstone National Park, filling up at a gas station, Best Western wants to send them a message about any vacancies nearby. To this end, an ad for the Best Western Desert Inn in West Yellowstone could pop up on a digital billboard on the highway, gas station screen or mobile phone app.
“That’s when we can get really creative with the brand,” said Price Glomski, executive VP of emerging media at digital agency PMG, speaking about how the agency works with Best Western to connect data, like location information, to marketing. In 2020, PMG started working with Best Western, when the pandemic was raging and the travel industry was among the hardest hit. Best Western had to get smarter about how it markets 4,500 hotels across the world to increase the value on higher demand locations like ones at U.S. National Parks and beaches, and understanding when to shut off marketing for locales that didn’t need it.
“When the world kind of came to a stop in travel,” said Dorothy Dowling, senior VP and chief marketing officer of Best Western Hotels and Resorts, “what we wanted to do was make sure we had very strong investments in performance-based marketing.”
At first, Best Western pulled back on digital marketing, refraining from even running ads on Facebook and Instagram, for instance, Dowling said. The company was focused on search and “meta-search” advertising, which appears on third-party travel sites. When the vaccine rates started going up in the U.S. in 2021, Best Western returned to Facebook and Instagram.
The company has used PMG to incorporate more data, across the world in real time, to guide its marketing. “It’s enabled us to look at a lot of data in traffic, regional data, weather data, vaccination data,” Dowling said. “That allowed us to make decisions about where we wanted to invest, but also allowed us to have a deeper understanding of the business.”