Custom GIFs and Other Secrets of Hospitality Marketing Innovation

Custom GIFs and Other Secrets of Hospitality Marketing Innovation

Hospitality marketing has always been a fast-moving game. To help the industry stay ahead of the curve, HSMAI created an Innovation category in its Adrian Awards program, which honors creativity in hotel advertising, digital marketing, and public relations. A new HSMAI Special Report profiles this year’s Gold winners in this category, offering insights and best practices for hospitality marketing professionals at every level. Here are three — one each for advertising, digital marketing, and PR:

ADVERTISING: Pushing out a survey.

Partnering with AFAR travel media platform, the Aruba Tourism Authority surveyed visitors on what makes them happy — so it could make them happier and increase visitation, particularly among an affluent base in key U.S. markets. The Travel Happiness Survey launched with newsletters, emails, social media, and website takeovers. More than 15,000 people took the survey, the results of which were revealed on and in AFAR magazine’s 10th-anniversary “Happiness Issue,” with an Aruba sponsorship print ad introducing the results spread.

The project exceeded benchmarks in many categories, including 30,000 page views, 15,000 entries, and five minutes or more spent on the survey page. Email blasts were 69 percent higher than the AFAR benchmark, while newsletters were 99 percent higher. A total of 12,000 emails were added to the Aruba database, and Aruba has used the survey results to better target visitors — and as a result, U.S. visitation is up by 9 to 10 percent in 2019, RevPAR is up 7.8 percent, and on-island spend is up 5 to 6 percent.

DIGITAL MARKETING: Having fun with social media.

In 2018, W Hotels partnered with GIPHY to create W-themed GIFs, reaction GIFs, and GIF stickers. Building off that work, in 2019, W and GIPHY created GIFs to drive awareness for Wake Up Call (WUC), a W Hotels music festival, and distributed them via GIPHY Search Keywords, Search Categories, and Trending Rotational placement — capitalizing on search terms related to “wakeup calls,” music, and key emotions related to WUC, namely excitement. W and GIPHY also engaged VIP festivalgoers by allowing them to produce their own personalized GIFs and GIF stickers at WUC.

W’s 133 GIFs have amassed 1.5 billion organic views across GIPHY and its API partners, including Instagram, Snapchat, FB Messenger, and iMessage. The campaign’s paid media component generated 27.3 million views of WUC-related GIFs and drove a 3.5-percent engagement rate on GIPHY Search (compared to W’s 1.89-percent benchmark), and a Nielsen Brand Lift Study showed lifts across all attributes.

PUBLIC RELATIONS: Making beautiful music.

Travel Michigan created Pure Sounds of Michigan, an ambient album, to showcase the sounds of Michigan through its state parks and inspire travel to these locations by highlighting diverse elements of the Wolverine State, including local artists. Produced with Assemble Sound, a Detroit-based media company, Pure Sounds of Michigan spawned three singles that were promoted via outlets including Billboard magazine and the website Stereogum, with paid audio ads on streaming platforms used to drive traffic to

After debuting at number nine on Billboard’s New Age chart, Pure Sounds of Michigan has been streamed/downloaded more than 88,000 times on Spotify and Soundcloud, while paid campaigns on Soundcloud, Pandora, and Spotify delivered more than 3 million impressions. More than 190 media placements led to an additional 10 million impressions, with social media posts producing another 4 million.

Download Innovation in Hospitality Advertising, Digital Marketing, and Public Relations, an HSMAI Special Report, here.

Categories: Marketing, Advertising, Digital, Public Relations
Insight Type: Best Practices, Reports