Hotels Discover Database Marketing Can Pay Off

Article excerpt

Database marketing, in which companies identify potential customers and mail them promotional material, has become a popular tool among hotels, particularly upscale ones, seeking to establish or expand their guest bases.

Among the hotels using such marketing to supplement or replace more traditional approaches are the ultra-chic Paramount, Royalton and Morgans in New York, Delano in Miami and Mondrian in Los Angeles, all managed by Ian Schrager, the nightclub owner turned hotelier; the SoHo Grand and the Trump International Hotel and Tower, two new hotels in New York, and Hyatt Hotels' North American and Caribbean hotels and resorts.

Hotels say database marketing provides an efficient way to deliver their message, whether it is intended for travelers or travel agents; they can use guest information obtained at check-in to tailor their message to the specific audience. Another benefit of targeted direct mail: Hotels can measure the return on their investment, something not easily done with ad campaigns in most other media. "As hotels' messages become more complex, they are moving to the micromarketing approach; they need to get the message out to the right people, which requires more than 30 or 60 seconds on TV, or an 8-by-10 ad in a magazine," said Steve Judge, co-managing director of Rapp Collins Worldwide Dallas, a direct mail agency that works with Hyatt. The agency is part of the Omnicom Group. One of the original and most creative proponents of hotel use of targeted direct mail is Schrager, a co-founder of the discotheque Studio 54 in New York in 1977 who turned to the hotel business in the 1980s. With the exception of a four-month-long $1.9 million television ad campaign by Wieden & Kennedy in Portland, Ore., which was begun on the Academy Awards telecast in 1992, Schrager has relied exclusively on direct mail to promote his hotels. His sophisticated direct-mail pieces, designed by Baron & Baron in New York, feature photographs and architectural drawings by Todd Eberle, Bruce Weber, Bruno Borione and others. They have covered the recent redesign of the Morgans by the French designer Andree Putman, illustrated in an elaborate portfolio of color photographs, as well as the opening of the Mondrian in December, displayed in a pad of drawings and photographs affixed to a high-tech clipboard. Both pieces quote reviews of the hotels by publications like The Los Angeles Times and Vanity Fair. Schrager is also using an illustrated storybook called "Delia at the Delano," a parody of Kay Thompson's tale of a mischievous girl named Eloise who charms and exasperates the staff of New York's Plaza Hotel; it features a trendy 8-year-old who lives at the Delano in Miami with a Prada ant farm and a French au pair. …


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