The Challenge: Aussie Accommodation Provider Hit by Bushfires and then COVID-19 

Choice Hotels is a leading accommodation provider with over 200 properties under its umbrella, with a significant footprint in regional hubs across Australia and New Zealand. Choice Hotels’ core customer base is predominantly business travelers, followed by leisure travelers. Its properties include Ascend, Clarion, Comfort, Quality Inn and EconoLodge brands.

Bastion Effect was engaged by Choice Hotels to help increase brand awareness and get leisure travelers to consider Choice Hotels and its suite of brands as an ideal ‘no fuss” affordable accommodation option for short breaks away. 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for the travel and hotel industry.

First, they were hit with the devastating bushfires and more recently the COVID pandemic. As a result, many people have had to put their holiday plans on hold for the foreseeable future, ultimately heavily impacting hotel bookings.

Choice Hotels landing page

Our Approach 

In all the mayhem of the current events, Choice Hotels’ silver lining in the pandemic is that many people have had to put their overseas travel plans on hold, creating an opportunity for holiday makers to consider taking a domestic holiday to replace their overseas trip – what would have been 10 million Australian travellers heading overseas this year will now hopefully convert to an increase in hotel stays at home.

The campaign idea was to instill excitement and desire amongst Australians to explore our own backyard, and in doing so also helping to inject much needed funds back into our economy and support regional communities, including Choice Hotels’ property owners.

To help us reignite our love for regional travel, we have curated a list of 100 Untold Stories – an ultimate bucket list of top 100 hidden and untold regional travel destinations and experiences from across  Australia and New Zealand.

Taking inspiration from Choice Hotels’ more than 200 hotel locations that stretch far and wide across both Australia & New Zealand, the inaugural 100 Untold Stories list shines light on the hidden gems, intriguing stories, fascinating people and must-visit experiences that are the beating heart of regional areas.

The 100 Untold Stories campaign launched in June with a big media push, supported by a media buy with Triple M. The campaign also has a dedicated webpage where you can discover all 100 Untold Stories: https://needabreak.com/stories/

Results

Since launching the campaign in June 2020, the campaign has delivered 22 media hits and reach of over 14 million – including a front-page feature in the Herald Sun. The campaign is set to run well into the year, continuing to inspire travelers to holiday locally in 2020.

In Australia, web traffic was up 20% month-on-month, with reservations up 7% month-on-month. July is on track to achieve a year-on-year increase of 5% in direct online reservations. While in New Zealand, the results are even more promising with web traffic up 65% month-on-month, reservations up 20% month-on-month, and revenue up 32% month-on-month.

Bastion Effect achieve coverage on the front page of Herald Sun for Choice Hotels

We think you’ve done a fabulous job with this campaign and very happy with landing the Herald Sun piece. Our CEO is over the moon. Hopefully, together, we can keep up the momentum.

Kari Hunter, General Manager, Marketing, Choice Hotels Asia-Pacific