Hotwire.com: Hotting up response through TV

  • Hotwire.com had an unfamiliar business model and wanted to launch in the UK
  • TV’s huge reach was used to launch the brand and drive response 
  • The response volumes were exceeded by 77% which led to further investment in TV

Challenge

Hotwire.com is a travel website that offers low priced deals on hotels by selling off unsold rooms at discounted prices. When hotel rooms go unsold, hoteliers use Hotwire.com to sell them. Hotwire does not identify the participating hotels until after the purchaser has paid so as not to directly compete with regular retail sales of the travel partners. This “opaque” sales model is very new and unheard of by the vast majority of the UK online travel consumers.

The challenge for Hotwire.com was to launch a new brand and new business model in the UK. To do this, the brand needed to educate its target market and explain the “opaque” form of purchasing a hotel room. Would UK audiences understand, accept and ultimately have trust and confidence in not knowing the hotel they were going to stay in? Coupled with this were ambitious and aggressive response targets in a fiercely competitive marketplace. £27m was spent on TV by their competitors who were the hotel aggregators and hotel chains direct in 2011, and a further £45m was spent by tour operator giants.

Hotwire.com and Total Media identified that the best time to launch would be when people tended to book short term holidays – in the summer months from Easter onwards and in particular leading up to the May Bank Holiday. They also knew the target audience were savvy short-breakers who were affluent, urban professionals aged between 25 and 44 and didn’t have children.

The Solution

Coupled with the planning insight data, Total Media identified the dayparts and channels in which their target audience were most likely to search during for deals online. They knew that their audience were watching TV whilst using other devices such as laptops and tablets. TV was used to build fame and educate and was integral in generating high coverage to create an instantly recognisable brand nationwide. 

The campaign launched just after the May bank holiday and ran until the end of August 2011. The airtime was paused for two separate weeks in June to test the true immediacy and carry over effect of TV. The creative was a 30” that ran on multichannel and there were c.80 Adult TVRs per week across the campaign. Sundays and Mondays were uplifted taking into account the planning insights, and the campaign achieved 87% 1+ cover for adults and the campaign appeared in the El Classico on Sky Sports (Real Madrid v Barcelona) as well as More4, Sky1, ITV2 Sky Atlantic and sport on ITV4.

Results

  • 42.6m adults saw the Hotwire TV advert at least once (high frequency of 14.3 OTS)
  • Response rates surpassed all predictions
  • Clear relationship demonstrated between TV and brand search
  • Through modelling and spot analysis, Total Media found that TV delivers a 48% incremental uplift on rolling baseline response
  • Hotwire.com are back on TV in 2012

Being a new player in the UK online travel market, Hotwire had the challenge of educating the public on our brand and business model as well as driving transactions. Our 2011 TV campaign resulted in an incredible amount of response and solidified TV as an integral part of our marketing in 2012

Annie Winship, Director of International Marketing, Hotwire.com

Databank

Sector: Travel and Transport

Brand: Hotwire.com

Campaign objectives: Build awareness, launch brand, drive responses, make brand famous, accelerate sales

Target Audience: All adults

Budget: £1m - £2m

Campaign Dates: May – August 2012

TV Usage: 30”

Creative Agency: dw+h

Media Agency:  Total Media

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