Restoring consumer confidence: How Accor landed its latest campaign proposition

Chief commercial officer talks through the hotel operator's 'It's all good' campaign and the lessons from 2020 that have inspired both the creative and campaign platform being employed

The need to instill confidence in customers and reflect the new norms of travel have triggered a fresh campaign strategy from Accor focused on flexibility, cleanliness and membership rewards.

The hotel operator this month debuted the new ‘It’s all good’ campaign across Australia and New Zealand, an acknowledgement of the headaches and heartbreak associated with travel over the past year aimed that also aims to give customers peace of mind about domestic travelling in 2021.

Accor chief commercial officer, Renae Trimble, told CMO the campaign was critical to driving domestic tourism, which in turn supported Australia’s economic recovery and protected jobs. With more than 380 properties across A/NZ under brands such as MGallery, Art Series, Pullman, Swissotel, Grand Mercure, Peppers, The Sebel, Mantra, Novotel, Mercure, and ibis, Accor is the largest region hotel operator and a significant employer.

“Australia and Kiwis want to travel again, and we know there is pent-up demand. But people need to feel reassured,” Trimble said. “This campaign says we know you want to travel, but that you want confidence. We’ve seen so many false starts, and while many are desperate for a holiday, they’re struggling to commit. Which is understandable.  

“We also got to the realisation that this is our new normal. Border closures are a new reality… that’s 2021.”  

The ambition is to take the stress and angst away from booking domestic trips and give customers something back, Trimble said. The best way to do that is through flexible cancellation, something Accor has offered for some time but is emphasising in the new campaign.

“We know from our own travel experiences that you want to know you can get your money back and cancel if you need to. Accor has a lot of properties we can move you to, so if you can’t go to Queensland, there are lots of location in Victoria or South Australia. That confidence you can cancel, and that we’ll work to find the best option for you, was a key message to deliver,” Trimble explained.  

The second path to restoring confidence was cleanliness and highlighting Accor’s ‘Allsafe’ hygiene program across its properties. Trimble said reinforcing the diversity of Accor’s properties, from luxury to economy, apartments, hotels and resorts, further highlighted the choices available.

The other ambition was to hero the Accor Live Limitless loyalty program and ecosystem.  Launched at the end of 2019, the refreshed program sees the traditional customer loyalty membership offering united with website and ecommerce in one platform.

As part of the latest ‘It’s all good’ campaign, a loyalty offer is available giving members of All – Accor Live Limitless double status nights and status points, plus double reward points when booking on the eligible rates.

Landing on the new campaign proposition

For Trimble, the catchphrase, ‘It’s all good’, felt like a no-brainer to expressing all of this creatively. “It’s in our vernacular and it felt easy and right. It was something, that was acknowledging this is our new norm, but that we can get through it. It’s a simple and nice way to share what are functional messages,” she said.  

Behind the scenes of the campaign, marketing, digital and loyalty teams have worked closely together to build out the propositions behind the program.

“I think once you’ve set your mind to this being the new norm and realise this is going to just keep happening, it’s much easier to say we know this is the case, and these are the pain points for our consumers to solve,” Trimble commented. “We then worked on how we message that. We wanted it to be simple, and to be in a way we know we can talk to A/NZ customers.

“Flexible cancellation and Allsafe were already things we had in the business, so it was a matter of bringing those things together. This was coupled with remaining adamant we were going to deliver for our customers in the long term.”  

The new campaign and market conditions did, however, trigger a rethink in Accor’s campaigns approach. Traditionally, the group executed big campaigns around key timeframes such as winter or summer.

“We have built a framework with this campaign so there are elements can be completely adapted for a region, hotel or city, as an example. That was the key part of getting that flexibility,” Trimble said.

“Yes, we want consistent national messaging, but we needed to be able to turn things on and off. For example, it might just be we stop at a city level, or that we re-segment our database. Within the framework, there is huge flexibility for hotels to do bigger stay packages, city escapes, stay longer and save propositions, doing things around special events like Mother’s Day, or food and beverage packages. It’s a far more flexible and nimble approach.”

In addition, Accor has reshaped spend and activity towards digital channels. The ‘It’s All Good’ campaign runs from now until 31 May 2021 and includes paid digital media such as broadcaster video on demand (BVOD) television and digital advertising, social media and video content.

Alongside this, there’s a tactical promotion of Accor’s flexible rates across the Pacific, with rates starting from $105 per night in Australia and $81 per night in New Zealand. Accor is also giving away five all-inclusive ultimate Australian holidays, with total value of over $25,000, via a national competition on breakfast show, Sunrise.

ROI on the campaign is ultimately about continuing investment to drive tourism. “That’s essential for us to recover and protect jobs. This campaign does that,” Trimble said.

“We want full cities, full regional locations, resorts everywhere. Because everyone is better, and tourism is better, if we have that.”

Loyalty and partnership

The group also wants to see significant growth in Accor Live Limitless engagement. According to Trimble, the program is the foundation for an ambition to engage with members and customers not just when they stay in an Accor property, but more generally in their everyday lives.

“We’re building this through experiences and have been generating a huge amount of content this year for this program, plus food and beverage experiences, as well as building partnerships in this ecosystem,” she said.

One example is a fresh rewards-based partnership signed with Qantas in late 2020 and launching later in 2021 giving members from both sides the opportunity to earn reward points when they’re flying and staying. Accor has also built partnerships with the likes of the NRL, AFL and Kudos Bank Arena to cover the key pillars of sports and entertainment.

It’s this power of partnership Trimble sees as one of the biggest positives to come out of a different year for Accor. “We are now working with partners on a different level because of this need to be so agile,” she said. “Having strong, flexible partnerships has been very important.

“For example, we had a long-standing partnership with the Sunrise program. That was an incredible partnership this year – some things were in the plan for eight months and we had to keep changing. They shifted and moved with us, came up with different ideas. We also collaborated particularly well with tourism partners and state bodies.

“With ad budgets tight, we needed to be really efficient as well as flexible as we couldn’t waste a dollar. Working with partners was essential to that. That expanded our reach while ensuring we were more efficient and not climbing over the top of each other.”

Trimble said Accor also worked with new partners to reach customers differently in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic. One of these was Subaru, which Accor partnered with on a campaign providing a $1200 Accor gift card for purchasing a new car.

“It allowed Subaru to leverage the customers want, which was travel and doing what was possible, and to sell new cars, and was great marketing exposure and a good fit for us. Those sorts of new things that came to us was the other positive to come from 2020 and something we’ll continue to pursue,” Trimble said.

“We will keep a lot of this even in this new normal – we wouldn’t go back to what we had been doing.”   

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