When Revenue Professionals Return to Work

Darline Dondl is associate director of reporting for Marriott Vacations Worldwide, which is based in Orlando, Florida, and a member of the board of the HSMAI Central Florida Chapter’s Board of Directors. Her office transitioned to work from home, and she has been working reduced hours throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Dondl offers tips for revenue optimization specialists and other hospitality professionals who will be returning to work after COVID-19.

1. Apply what is relevant. With the myriad trends and data that have been shared for today’s changing landscape, it is important to find the nuggets that can be applied to your business. Approach the article or report as a way to broaden your perspective, then compare that information to the trends in your property and market. The data is changing at a rapid pace and is presented in multiple views that may not be helpful; be sure to focus your time on what will be impactful to your team.

2. Embrace what you learned. There has been new technology introduced, work-from-home etiquette, and revelations from training that we can take with us as we return to our routines. The times that we complained of too many meetings were replaced by cleared calendars. Were the virtual meetings more efficient than multiple emails? Was productivity changed by working from home, or impacted by more distractions? Did you have more of a routine to maximize your workday with adjusted hours? What were those key takeaways you had during a webinar that you intended to implement? Focus on the positive impact you can have on your new schedule.

3. Reevaluate your “normal.” We tend to get in a routine, so just like you do with a fresh start every new year, take this time to review your normal reports and see if they are still beneficial. Is there a new report that the team relied on to navigate during this time of abundant change and will it be useful moving forward, or can changes be captured, so it will be more comprehensive when reviewing trends? In order to capitalize on everyone’s time, make sure the reports that are being produced are being used — and ask for feedback, because they will tell you!

4. Balance of the year will be a new understanding for the industry. Flexible cancellations and delayed vacations have skewed the trends we have relied on to make our forecasts, but the data will continue to give us new markers in the trends. A deeper dive into the data will show us the change in our mix of business, the adjusted booking window, or the channel that is still producing strong. A little repetitive, but we can’t rely on the same reports — the trends may not be obvious — so changing the report filters to room type or channel can help the sales and marketing teams execute strategies that can be captured in the forecast revisions.

5. Budgeting for 2021 will present a unique challenge. Prepare for the need for more data than just “same time last year” or “prior year.” Understand the data that your revenue system or your property’s reports use, so when you’re developing a useful strategy there are no surprises or line items you have to continue to explain each time they’re reviewed. It may be more useful to build your strategy at an average of a few years until the markets return. Remember to adjust your corporate negotiated rates to align more closely with retail rate strategy that was most likely impacted. Collaboration with sales, marketing, and revenue teams will be essential to get everyone’s support for success and profitability.

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

10 Tips for Getting Back to Group Sales

By Alan Kilker, Senior Sales Executive, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa

More than ever in group/convention sales, relationships count. As we think about the interactions we’ll be having with our valued clients as we all get back in the office, energized to restart business as usual, it’s important as hotel sales professionals that we remember that everyone has been through some trauma associated with COVID-19. While some have been affected more than others, we must be sensitive and compassionate as we build up our sales teams professionally and emotionally and work to put business back on the books.

For me, imagining what this looks like comes down to a list that I’ve developed and plan to keep mentally handy as a daily reminder. I’m also sharing it with colleagues who will join me in stepping back into an industry that has been hard hit in a way that none of us could have foreseen. Here’s my take on getting back to business:

1. Show genuine concern. We need to understand and empathize with the current health and economic conditions of the meetings industry.

2. Remember, it is about partnership. Confirm and continue to build those close, personal partner relationships that are important today and in the future.

3. Keep what’s best for both parties foremost in mind. It is a two-way relationship, and that’s often what turns business partnerships into lifelong friendships.

4. Maintain honesty and integrity in all communications. Being a trusted resource for your clients means full transparency.

5. Stay in touch and be persistent, but be patient. Sales professionals shouldn’t be pushy or inconsiderate. Work closely with planners to clear away any obstacles to moving forward; ask yourself what you can do to assist them.

6. Reinforce the value of working together. Through collaboration, both parties are helping each other keep convention business moving forward. By maintaining our mutual commitment to the future, both parties’ needs and objectives can be met.

7. Remind clients that future meetings require planning now. Acknowledge that planners have had to handle frustrating short-term challenges, but urge them not to forget about the long-term health of their organizations. The future will be here before they know it, and working together, you can ensure that their meeting plans are set and secure.

8. Be reasonable and your clients will return the favor. We can continually show the hospitality industry’s commitment to the meetings industry by offering honest, reasonable, and suitable terms and conditions, so both parties win any negotiations.

9. Put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Many parties are involved with meetings decisions — especially now. Boards of directors, committees, and others often provide input or vote on meeting destinations and other planning details. By going out of your way to be helpful and asking your contacts directly, “What can I do to assist you in moving this decision further ahead?,” you will be providing support and assistance that will elevate their meeting decision as a top priority.

10. Offer a positive vision of the future. Be generous with assurances that by booking future business now, your clients are playing a big part in the entire convention industry’s recovery. A mutual commitment will bring the hospitality industry back to work full force, assuring its financial health and future. Show the benefits of securing great dates before first choices are snapped up.

I always sell with two key ingredients at the forefront: empathy for the needs of my clients, and years of honed business acumen that keeps my eye keenly trained on the responsibilities I have to my property and to my sales team. While these 10 reminders likely won’t fundamentally change the foundation of how many of us do business, they may recharge our conviction that the services we provide our clients are highly customized to prioritize their safety and comfort. And, of course, sitting with my clients — whether virtually or in person — I will begin each interaction by acknowledging that their meetings are crucial gatherings that are often at the center of their organizations’ heart and culture.

So, what is my job today, in a world still fraught with pandemic worry and uncertainty? More than ever, it will be to continue to make my clients’ meetings relaxing, educational, joyful, and comfortable — and an experience where their teams, association members, and leadership are truly positioned to excel through today’s challenges and beyond.

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best Practices for Hotel Management Company Sales and Marketing Professionals

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI hosted a Hotel Management Company Sales & Marketing Virtual Roundtable on April 30 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on HMCs. After being in the trenches for more than a month, HMC sales and professionals shared their best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for continued success. Here are five of their suggestions, presented in their own words:


  • “I think leadership matters. Making your people feel good about what they’re doing makes them work. It is an interesting dynamic seeing who goes out there and fights to get one room filled and who sits around saying, ‘Nothing’s coming in.’”
  • “You need to remember to be positive and move forward and use your time well, but understand how the environment is impacting them personally. Do they have kids at home they have to take care of? It’s all over the place with the gains, but it begins and ends with great leadership and great compassion.”
  • “We’re always talking about sprinkling sunshine on the guests and listening and finding creative solutions so they walk away feeling good, and we need to do the same for each other. We have to keep our employees’ energy high whether they’re on furlough or working with us shoulder to shoulder now.”
  • “I think the biggest lesson I’ve learned is the power of personal interaction. We got so tied up with sending quick emails to clients, guests, employees — with everything slowing down, I’ve had the time to call all of my directors and check on them. It makes them feel like they’re more than just a number and they work harder when know they’re appreciated.”


  • “It’s given us some time to reevaluate what our sales and communications message is to our customers. The new message is softer, more emotional, and what the root of the business is in hospitality. We will take care of you, ensure you’re safe, and make sure your experience is extraordinary. That’s different than what we were pushing out a few months ago.”
  • “When it comes to salespeople, the cream really does rise to the top. When you get back to basics, you understand persistence and aggressive selling are who you’re looking for. Now is the time you find out who your true salespeople are and who you want moving forward.”
  • “We need to simplify and just focus on taking care of the customer.”


  • “It’s a good time to review processes and make sure what we’ve been doing is the best way of handling different situations. Revenue, sales, and marketing are working even closer together, and it has given us ways to rethink how we work together moving forward.”
  • “We see the importance in having some type of plan in place in the event that there’s another economic downturn. Everyone was blindsided by this thing. We’ve made some SOPs to deal with things like this. We’re adding to our file on a daily basis and will have it for many years, so we can access that if something happens again.”


  • “We have been writing notes to all of our clients, top accounts or local rewards members, and it has paid off because it’s going to people’s homes. We’re getting phone calls saying that this blew them away. Not asking for business, just checking in with them and letting them know we are there for them when they are ready to come back.”
  • “Our hotels in New York have been completely decimated. The power of teamwork in that environment has been amazing. We had one hotel underperforming, and every one of our employees participated in advertising on their social media pages. I gave a $100 gift card to who got the most likes, but they donated it to a healthcare worker in need. The stories I hear every day make my heart happy.”
  • “Think outside the box to keep in touch personally with clients. It’s interesting to see how I’ve always complained about the younger generation communicating via email or texts instead of in person, but now we’re having to do what what they been telling us to do in order to communicate with clients, and we have to learn how to better incorporate that sales aspect.”


  • “One of the things we did before this was constantly innovate, and this gave us a better space to do this. We’re not out of this yet to know all the changes, but the more we can ideate and test things, the better. At this point, we have nothing to lose. Fail fast and fail forward.”
  • “This is very dynamic and changing at breakneck speed. I caution everybody to be very careful about making assumptions on service. There will be a temporary normal, but then normal. When there’s a vaccine, we’ll get back to handshakes and things will slowly come back. In general, we need to get through week-to-week right now.”

The virtual roundtable participants included representatives from these 22 hotel management companies:

Atlific Hotels; Chartwell Hospitality; Crescent Hotels and Resorts; CUSA Hotel Management; Dimension Development; GF Hotels & Resorts; HHM; Hostmark Hopitality; HVS Asset Management; LBA Hospitality; Library Hotel Collection; M&R Hotel Management; Marcus Hotels and Resorts; OTO Development; Prism Hotels & Resorts; Pyramid Hotel Group; Regency Hotel Management; Remington Hotels; Sound Hospitality Management; Staypineapple Hotels; Summit Hospitality Group; and Wright Investments.

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best Practices for Hotel Loyalty Professionals

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI hosted a Chief Loyalty Officer Virtual Roundtable on April 3 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on hotel loyalty programs. CLO participants shared best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for preparing to accelerate as quickly as possible. Here are three of their suggestions, presented in their own words:


  • “Go back to basics. Consumer behavior is going to look different, and that’s something we have to take into account with our loyalty programs and business in general.”
  • “What we have learned is the customer appreciates working with us directly. Some booked through OTAs and weren’t able to cancel their reservation. That’s an opportunity for us.”


  • “We have been making decisions quickly and taking out layers of bureaucracy to do what is right. We have to be flexible with our thinking in ways that we weren’t in the past.”
  • “Act decisively. We’ve been making sure to treat guests with empathy and really changing how we communicate with guests to highlight the things we’ve been doing from a community perspective to generate goodwill. We’ve had to learn how to operate in a very different way. There are a lot of takeaways on operating more effectively.


  • “We’ve been doing daily check-ins. Everything is changing so fast, and getting on video chat with different groups every day helps keep things moving.”
  • “We hosted four town halls for our hotels in the Americas, the U.K., Europe, and Japan. We covered a lot of topics. It was an opportunity for our hotels to hear directly from us and know what we were hearing and what were planning to do. A lot has changed, so we will be doing additional ones in the coming weeks, but the strength was connecting with member hotels. We are an extension of them, their eyes and ears.”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best Practices for Hospitality Marketing Professionals

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI hosted a Chief Marketing Officer Virtual Roundtable on March 31 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on hotel marketing. In addition to discussing key indicators they are using to track how the hospitality industry is doing, CMO participants shared their best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for preparing to accelerate as quickly as possible. Here are four of their suggestions, presented in their own words:


  • “There seems to be a race to the bottom. How can we set everything so aggressively we can survive the next few months? But you also have to keep in mind coming back out. I’m interested to see how companies manage through that. I imagine if you let everyone go, when you decide to bring them back, there’s a process that won’t be very efficient and you may not have an engaged group to help you recover quickly.”
  • “If we’re going to cut off our nose to spite our face right now, we have to be ahead of the recovery with our planning and strategy and building and implementation. If we start to cut our teams too aggressively, we’re not going to be out in front of it.”
  • “Hotels that dropped rate in previous downturns were the slowest to recover, so we are working to make sure owners and managers know they should hold rate and help them understand that undercutting everyone isn’t going to help them in the long run.”
  • “We’re trying to maintain a hyper focus on our customers and understand where they are emotionally. We want to understand what consumers need from us. We’re hoping this approach will take us through the long term and we will be there when they are ready to purchase again.”


  • “We have close engagement with our ownership groups, since they’re funding a lot of the efforts. We’ve been very close in forecasting with them, so they’re prepared and feel engaged with us and we can get our teams back in place.”
  • “We’re making sure management and ownership are aligned. It allows you to make tough decisions and gives you support when reopening. Engaging with folks really helps.”


  • “I think this is a world where we’re going to have to reinvent. We’re focusing on capabilities that have value and efficiencies. A lot of it is around automation.”
  • “We’re treating it as if we’re a new company and questioning everything. When we open back up, it’s not going to be the same as we were before. We have this opportunity to rethink everything going forward.”
  • “The importance of knowing who your key players are. That way you can understand what your team is going to look like. It’s making me stop and rethink a lot of roles and where those roles sit within the organization.”
  • “We’re looking at this as an opportunity to reemerge differently by accelerating some capital projects, and we plan to come out of it in a stronger position.”


  • “In China, they were in the process of closing for three weeks. We’re still in that three-week period. Then they went through four weeks of being closed, but eventually after that four-week period, they started opening again and most are open now. So, we could be opening back up around mid-May, but April is going to be really tough.”
  • “We’ve had the benefit of seeing the China strategy. It’s provided some calmness, because we can anticipate what things are going to look like.”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.


Best Practices for Sales Professionals Responding to COVID-19

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI hosted a Chief Sales Officer Virtual Roundtable on March 26 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on hotel sales. In addition to discussing key indicators they are using to track how the hospitality industry is doing, CSO participants shared their best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for preparing to accelerate as quickly as possible. Here are four of their suggestions, presented in their own words:


  • “That human element is what’s in the core our DNA. Keeping in touch with our clients and staying connected on a personal level is important — not asking about business, but just saying, ‘I hope you’re okay.’ Everyone is going through something they never in their wildest days thought they’d be going through.”
  • “We’re encouraging our teams to be compassionate with both colleagues and customers and taking a caring approach. It’s uncertain times and we’re all in it together.”
  • “We’re focusing on empathy. People’s lives are changing in ways that were unimaginable. We had to furlough a lot of employees, and we want to maintain good relationships with them.”
  • “It’s about communication. I’m seeing now how much that’s making a difference to everyone on the team. I’m communicating with them all day long. We can get so invested in our own lanes and I overlooked reaching out to others, and I’m realizing it’s about the bigger world, not just me.”


  • “Be flexible, whether it’s an incentive plan or with people working at home, or for customers, with how often you service their rooms. That flexibility is critical. We need to be simple in our planning, so when it’s time to execute, we can make a quick change.”
  • “We’ve never experienced this. A strategy that you have Tuesday could change by Thursday. Being nimble is critical. The ability to be flexible and to change and adapt is what’s going to bring us forward.”
  • “There’s no black-and-white answer right now. Every group and every situation is different, so we have to understand everything as much as we can. Be flexible and look at each situation.”
  • “You really know what your team is made of when they are agile and adaptable in times like these. You can work with people for years and not know what they’re really made of. It’s easy to work in the good times, but in times like these, I’m really seeing the importance of hiring well.”


  • “There needs to be a two-prong approach, not just operationally right now, but also capitalizing on the future and coming out of it. We balance how we’re dealing with today, but also being proactive on having a strategy to execute.”
  • “Things are going to look a lot different coming out of this. We have to tap into the tools and resources we have available.”


  • “One of the things we started right away was sharing fun things on our Zoom calls, such as favorite cocktails. Taking it away from the business side of it is important, because people are so concerned and worried these days. Everyone is going through the same thing, and there needs to be a bit of fun through all of this.”
  • “In a few short weeks, we’ve gotten good at sharing any bright spots or wins, no matter how small.”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best Practices for Hotel Management Company CROs Responding to COVID-19

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI hosted a Hotel Management Company (HMC) Chief Revenue Officer Virtual Roundtable on March 25 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on hotel revenue optimization. In addition to discussing key indicators they are using to track how the hospitality industry is doing, HMC CRO participants shared their best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for preparing to accelerate as quickly as possible. Here are five of their suggestions, presented in their own words:


  • “We’re lucky enough to still have 90 percent of our corporate team, but completely redeployed our team into a secure division, a support division, and a succeed division. Succeed is focused on ramping back up — procedures, staffing, strategy plans, markets to proceed with, staffing messaging, communicating with properties. It’s been our main focus.”
  • “Our best practice is the way we now engage with each other. We’ve had to become a baseball team like no other. Everyone has a specific role, but we have to toss the ball to each other in a way we haven’t had to before. Our culture is usually to make sure hotels have final say on strategy, but we’ve had to make some across-the-board decisions for all hotels, immediately going to implementation.”
  • “We’ve formed a response team right away that has a representative from each discipline across the company that’s a resource for anyone to come to. It’s worked well across the field.”


  • “We have been focused on a solid post-COVID plan, taking as much information across markets as we can to build that. We’re also synergizing our efforts across markets and sharing knowledge across markets. We’ve been heavily focused on our weekly forecast across all markets, so we’ve come up with a market-level focus for each market as well. We are also gathering a lot of digital information and consolidating it on a common forum.”
  • “A lot of hotels have been mandated to close, so what we have done is create more efficiencies to share contacts across different markets. We’re having a daily sales, marketing, revenue, and ecommerce call with everyone. We’ve had to move the call center to remote, and that’s working very well, so that it will probably remain like that instead of moving back to a building.”


  • “It’s been exciting to see my team in the field step up. They’ve been sharing what trends they’re seeing, leads that come in. We’re trying to focus on the good things we’re seeing.”
  • “The ingenuity I’ve seen from our sales team has been unbelievable. We’ve been able to see who the hunters are. I was blown out of the water a few weeks ago by one of our directors of sales. The ingenuity and the hunting have been phenomenal.”
  • “We had to lay off a lot of employees last week, but those who have remained showed great compassion and empathy toward those who were furloughed. They’re all having to learn different brands that they never thought they would have to know three weeks ago. This is a great time for cross-training, and they are willing and open to learning.”


  • “We streamlined our process for responding to leads, so we can respond to them more quickly. Long-term, we are developing several rules as things get rebooked into the second half. We want to make sure we are layering appropriately to avoid displacement.”
  • “Our biggest change has been the multiple versions of forecasts — making a best case, worst case, etc. It’s helped eliminate some of the day-to-day forecasting and saved us time.”
  • “A lot of it is having the team go back and focus on the basics of the business. The only function of the sales department is to go out and find business and sell to them.”


  • “Anything that we can put together that’s hopeful or positive looking forward is more important than ever and is better received by employees. I look forward to putting that together for each property.”
  • “Out of every catastrophe comes permanent change. We’re looking at where we’ve cut costs and what we can use as an opportunity to cut savings moving forward.”
  • “We’re focusing on when we are going to reopen and what happens then, instead of focusing on right now when we’re closed. We’re cross-training our revenue team with other departments who can’t work remotely. We’re also making sure we’re educating teams that discounting isn’t the best way to go.”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best Practices for Brand Revenue Professionals Responding to COVID-19

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI hosted a Brand Chief Revenue Officer Virtual Roundtable on March 24 that focused on the impact that COVID-19 is having on hotel revenue optimization. In addition to discussing key indicators they are using to track how the hospitality industry is doing, brand CRO participants shared their best practices, lessons learned, and ideas for preparing to accelerate as quickly as possible. Here are six of their suggestions, presented in their own words:


  • “You have to have a date [that hotels are closed/open], but every time the date shifts, you have a lot of work ahead — to cancel reservations, move things around, reconfigure selling strategies — and if you don’t have someone tethered to that property, you’re not going to be able to do that effectively. What we don’t want is a hotel, even one that’s closed, to have no revenue management oversight.”
  • “We’re streamlining the process to respond to local government requests so we can provide rates faster, which requires revenue managers to be on hand at the hotels, so it’s a really good opportunity for revenue managers.”


  • “We’re encouraging people to make the most of their time to be productive, even if they’re on furlough. There’s lots of online learning resources available. Use the time to get to things you never have time to get to.”
  • “Our situation is unique, but nobody has been furloughed and everyone is on the clock. They all have a laptop, so we have the expectation they will be advancing their training and skillsets. I think we’ll be a lot better equipped when we come back.”


  • “We came up with a national healthcare rate for all hotels. It makes it easier for traveling nurses and doctors. Another business we still have is government travel and extended-stay travel, for travelers who can’t go back home.”
  • “We’re looking for areas of opportunity to drive rate in the future, Q4 and 2021 in particular, with all the pent-up demand. There have been so many events canceled, so I think that there is going to be an opportunity to drive more than the traditional year-over-year rate increases.”


  • “Our agents sent out 6,000 calls to let customers know that we were closing and offer to rebook them at a later date instead of just sending out a mass email. The feedback was very positive, and it kept our call-center employees employed.”
  • “Early on we set up daily calls with all our teams, to make sure we’re all touching base and giving reassurance to our revenue managers about how we’re supporting our teams. It’s important to go out there consistently and make sure everyone knows what our strategies are.”
  • “We’ve been having town halls with all of our member hotels, showing them the value we have is important, and we’ve had a high level of participation. We’re sharing what our strategies are and what’s happening and giving them some reassurance. We want to show our hotels we have their backs.”


  • “Have a date and work back from it. Know what you need to do leading up to that, because you do not want to be caught flat-footed coming out of this. I really think that revenue management is going to be a part of the solution and ensuring we come out of this strong.”
  • “We’re sharing best practices with not just the revenue teams but the hotel operators. Discounting does not create demand, so we’re making sure we’re setting ourselves up to come out of this and not digging ourselves into a bigger hole.”


  • “We’re consolidating revenue management for our closed hotels and using regional teams to cover some of our hotels, because they know the hotels pretty well.”
  • “We’re having directors of sales work the front desk when guests are checking in, so they are selling to those guests. We’re trying to imprint on them that it’s business as usual, you just have a smaller target. They’re driving through town and seeing who is staying in town, so everyone can focus their energy on those targets. They’re still bringing in negotiator rates. It’s old school, but everything is on the table right now.”

For additional information, insights, and tools, visit HSMAI’s Global Coronavirus Resources page.

Best of Show: D-Day With The National WWII Museum

By Kaitlin Dunn, Writer, Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)

HSMAI’s 2019 Adrian Awards competition — celebrating creativity and innovation in hospitality advertising, digital marketing, and public relations — honored its winners at the Adrian Awards Dinner Reception and Gala in New York City on Jan. 21. The top honor of the night went to three Best of Show winners. Take some inspiration from one of them: The National WWII Museum’s “Owning an Entire News Cycle: D-Day With The National WWII Museum,” which was honored in the Public Relations/PR Campaign/Special Event category. (View all of last year’s Adrian-winning submissions here.)

BACKGROUND: Seventy-five years after Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, The National WWII Museum sought to take advantage of the media coverage surrounding the diamond-anniversary celebration of D-Day in June 2019 and generate impactful coverage of the museum and its subsequent events. Located in New Orleans, The National WWII Museum is dedicated to telling the story of the American experience in the war and educate all generations on the sacrifices that were made. The campaign’s goals were to inspire and educate visitors on the lessons that can be learned from WWII, position the museum’s historians as go-to spokespeople for WWII stories, and drive traffic and donations to the museum.

CAMPAIGN: To start, the campaign targeted a wide audience across the United States but focused on veterans and their families through placements in influential broadcast, print, and online outlets. Historians and WWII veterans were interviewed in both Normandy and New Orleans for the various media spots, telling specific stories of those who fought and providing a broader historical context for the events of June 6, 1944.

The stand-out part of the campaign began in late May, when the National WWII Museum launched two cruises following the path of Germany’s conquest of Western Europe and the subsequent Allied efforts to regain control and liberate the continent. The cruises culminated with a June 6 arrival at Omaha Beach to partake in commemorative D-Day events. Along with historians, WWII veterans were on the cruise, some returning to the beaches where they fought for the first time since they landed there 75 years ago. In New Orleans, more historians and veterans took part in another series of celebrations beginning with an H-Hour ceremony at 6:30 a.m. — the exact time of the D-Day landings.

RESULTS: The campaign generated more than 1.3 billion media impressions, the equivalent of more than $46 million in advertisement spending. Placements included 132 broadcast segments (192 million impressions), with pieces on Fox News, CNN, PBS, and a CBS News Special Report, as well as 13 national print placements (18 million impressions), including the front page of The New York Times, and 102 online placements (1.1 billion impressions). The museum’s website broke several records, including its highest number of visitors in one day — nearly 75,000 on June 6 — and highest number of visitors in the month of June, at 480,000. June 2019 also generated an increase of 37 percent in online donations and broke a record for museum visitation.

WHY IT WON: Adrians judges were very impressed with “Owning an Entire News Cycle: D-Day With The National WWII Museum.” Here is what several of them had to say about it why they thought it was the best of the best:

  • “It’s highly interactive, making the past relevant to the present and future. It educates and enlightens about what matters, and that was really powerful.”
  • The New York Times feature story really stood out, especially since it was timed to drop the day before the anniversary and helped cause the web traffic to double.”
  • “It was about storytelling. It wasn’t about ‘come see the new museum.’ It showed the power of what storytelling is and what PR does.”
  • “To incorporate the veterans’ and their children’s stories into this campaign was really brilliant. The narrative became ‘What do we learn from this in the current generation?’ It worked really well.”