What Quest is doing to switch its lens from B2B to B2C engagement

Quest Apartment's marketing chief shares the brand rethink around local needed to win in the current accommodation market

For almost 33 years, Quest Apartment Hotels has forged close relationships with corporate clients, with its serviced apartments becoming a default option for business travel programs. But as employers have become more responsive to the whims of their staff, they have also begun offering more choice as to where they stay.

According to Quest CMO, Jeff Baars, this trend has been playing out for a number of years now, leading Quest to think more broadly about how it presents itself to the wider world.

“We had to start building preference and a connection with end consumers,” Baars tells CMO. “Research was showing us that while consumers loved Quest for the practical aspects – they told us we were spacious, convenient, and clean – they didn’t have that emotional connection with our brand.

“This provided us with a clear opportunity for change, because more and more of our customers are going to be able to choose their own brands and where they want to stay on business travel.”

Working with the independent creative advertising agency, The Core Agency, Quest examined its other assets, and specifically its franchise model.

“All of our 170 hotels are owned by individual business owners,” Baars says. “While they run them according to our business format franchise, they have skin in the game.”

Baars says this means owners have strong knowledge of their locality, and often have strong ties into the local business community. And it is this hyper-local knowledge and connection that is being leveraged in Quest’s new brand platform.

The second insight Quest is tapping into is its ongoing work to make staying with the group as effortless as possible.

“What we found is consumers love brands like Airbnb because it provides this really localised experience,” Baars says “But it is quite tricky, because until you have checked in, you don’t know how clean it is going to be.

“At the other end of the spectrum, you have these international hotel brands that are maybe a bit soulless or corporate and they don’t have that local component at all. So we can provide our guests with an effortless experience across 170 locations brought to life by business owners who can give our guests a local insight into the location where they are staying.”

Quest has now launched a new brand campaign featuring television advertising and content partnerships with publishers including The Guardian, showcasing some of Quest’s local business owners and their communities. Baars says the new brand platform is also reflected in the guest experience.

“It is ensuring what we stand for as a brand is being delivered at a local level consistently and showcased in a really clear way,” Baars says. “We are working really hard with our business owners to ensure we highlight those components to every single guest.”

Quest is also investing in display advertising and is working with micro influencers to showcase the unique of locales.

“That model of contracting with corporate customers will remain a really important part of our strategy,” Baars say. “We are just recognising the fact that end consumer ultimately has a much bigger say in where they stay. And so we know we need to do both.”

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