Stay if you dare: how booking.com make the most of Halloween?

Everyone loves Halloween.

pumpkin-resized-600.jpgKids knock on neighbor’s doors and expect the candies. Teenagers hang out with a group of friends in the horror night at Universal Studio. Adults put on their costumes and indulge themselves in the Halloween parade after a long day’s hard work.

Holiday is not only the time for celebration, but also the perfect time to engage with the valued customers. According to Experian Marketing Services, a global information services company, 49 percentages of the marketers claimed to launch holiday marketing campaign before Halloween.

Here is the question: How do our beloved brands promote themselves during the fourth most popular holiday in the U.S.?

The brilliant Haunted Hotels Campaign, launched by one of the biggest online travel firm Booking.com, really stood out in this year’s Halloween creative idea. First, Let’s take a journey into the horror TV commercial focusing on the room 410 inside the haunted Queen Anne Hotel.

The big creative idea of the campaign is promoting staying in a room in one of American’s famous haunted hotels as an unconventional way to celebrate Halloween. This “Stay if you dare” challenge is a provocative hook that captured both the attention and curiosity of the young generation. The tagline is “with 350,000 accommodations including haunted hotels”. In this regard, the intention of the campaign is not to increase the haunted hotel sales, but to position Booking.com as a comprehensive and superior online accommodation provider.

Besides the movie-style TV commercial, the Haunted Hotels advertising campaign also design an online website featuring the seven haunted hotels(http://www.booking.com/haunted/) and  tailor-made posters displayed in movie theaters across the U.S.

               屏幕快照 2013-11-04 下午7.46.25

In my point of view, I consider it is a successful creative holiday marketing campaign. The first reason is that they capture the right emotion at the right time, which has not yet to be exploited by other travel companies. In contrast to traditional holiday marketing campaign capitalizing on happiness, Haunted Hotels campaign was trying to tap into the fear and curiosity among their target group. Unlike usual flat claims of online booking companies, Booking.com has focused on a niche and present it in an unexpected and intriguing way.

The second advantage is the wise use of storytelling technique. The campaign showcased the frightening stories of seven haunted hotels in a concrete and vivid way. Each story reveals the mysterious stories of how these locations came to be so ‘haunted’, guiding the visitor into a special travelling experience. The incorporation of horror stories will grab audiences’ attention at the first sight and also associate the brand with uniqueness and adventure. On the campaign website, travelers can easily book their next ghostly getaway and also share the scary stories with their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest.

How do you feel about this campaign?

Will the “scared to death” technique really work on the branding for Booking.com during the Halloween?

More importantly, as both Christmas and Thanksgiving are around the corner, we have welcomed the arrival of the biggest holiday season in the year.What is your own holiday shopping experience? Share some constructive insights about how to make your holiday marketing campaign stand out.

Sources:

1.49 percent of marketers  launch a holiday campaign before Halloween

2. Booking.com’s journey into fear this Halloween

 

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6 Responses to Stay if you dare: how booking.com make the most of Halloween?

  1. dipoalo says:

    Despite if one is interested in spending the night in a haunted destination onHalloween or not, this is a great move by Booking.com. There is so much competition with these travel sites that it is easy to be lost in the mix of people’s minds. The websites that usually come to people’s minds when it comes to these websites that have obliterated the travel agency world are probably Expedia.com, Hotels.com, and Priceline.com. This innovative idea that Booking.com has started gets their site in the mouths and minds of its potential customers. If this ‘Dare to Stay’ campaign works or not, this was still a successful idea.

  2. Wenjing Tang says:

    Thanks, Wan. The film-like commercial works impressively! I like the creative idea ‘stay if you dare’. By telling the haunted story behind each hotel, this campaign successfully transforms those hotels’ disadvantaged qualities into nothing less than unique selling points. This campaign also reminds me that timing is always important in marketing. Besides regular TV commercials, there are brilliant campaigns designed for particular time periods. For example, Mcdonalds in U.K. launched two time-specified promotions in paydays and holidays respectively when consumers are most likely to go out to eat.

  3. plama says:

    Wan, the video was really interesting and I like the launching time spot of Booking.com. Halloween is an important festival in USA. In my opinion, people also start booking for holidays during the end of October and this commercial can entertain the audiences. I do not know if this campaign could get the haunted hotels booked, but it definitely increased brand connection. One of their other 2013 advertisement, I felt was entertaining is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LusjsQGkKWA.

  4. shashali says:

    This really shocked me when I was watching the clip by myself at my apartment. It really works in terms of raising awareness and leaving impression, however, personally, it is doubtful for me to link travel directly to a haunted hotel. I agree with the importance of timing and I would say taking advantage of the famous holiday is a good strategy. However, I am not sure about the results, especially for a booking website. Plama mentioned in her comments that people tend to book tickets and hotels for holidays during the end of October, but are they doing so for Thanksgiving, not Halloween? Are they going to respond to “stay if you dare” for a holiday of Turkey and family reunion? So I am really curious the ROI of this commercial.

  5. Mirror says:

    It sounds very interesting. If I am a ghost lover, I will like this kind of campaign. However, most people do not celebrate Halloween in that way. As you mentioned that this campaign targeted a niche market, I wonder whether it will generate enough traffic and gross from that niche market. In addition, this campaign is for young generation. However, I guess the people who use Booking. com are not that young. As I made travel plan before, I found out most places Booking.com provided were relatively expensive places. For a young generation who usually choose hostels rather than hotels, I will use hostelsworld more often. Therefore, even though this campaign attracts young generation’s attention, they are still not major users of Booking.com since this website cannot provide what they need.

  6. Lilian Mak says:

    I think the video was very creative but I would not be willing to live in a haunted hotel. However, this reminds me of the different campaigns online booking sites do to attract people. For example, they might introduce hotels that had been filmed in movies or hotels that have the best Michelin food or number of famous artists staying at the hotel.

    Indeed, this might be attractive for the halloween holiday season but I will still be more focused in looking for cheaper bargains for hotels.