NEW YORK—Humans begin exploring from a young age. Whether it’s crawling into another room or touching the flowers, a young child questions the unknown and, as a result, often pushes boundaries. Humans continue this need to understand uncertainty by pushing limits and, as they age, many of these restrictions are lifted, one of which opens up opportunity for travel. One hospitality group wants to take the guest’s hand to help them to do just that—wander.
Stephanie Casanova, director of brand and marketing at Loews Hotels, explained why the hospitality group, which owns and/or operates 24 hotels and resorts across the United States and Canada, needed to go through a brand relaunch: “I think we were at a point in time where we knew we needed to elevate overall awareness for our brand.” Following its decision to reposition itself, Loews reevaluated the way it had been externally sharing its story with customers and determined a new creative campaign was in order.
Loews selected Mono as its agency of record last fall after a competitive review process. The luxury hospitality company charged the creative agency with developing a campaign around Loews Hotels’ rebranding and positioning efforts, which had been put into place to “beef up overall brand awareness,” Casanova pointed out.
“We were immediately drawn to the luxury aspect of the Loews brand, as well as the fact that it seemed it had the potential to do more,” said Jim Scott, founder and managing partner at Mono, a Minneapolis-based firm. “As we investigated the category, we quickly understood the challenge of carving out a space that can stand apart from both the giants who continue to merge to form massive chains, and from the one-off independents who pride themselves on being quirky and unique. How could a brand of 20-plus hotels compete as others move to extreme ends of the spectrum? For a creative agency, that’s an awesome assignment.”
Mono got busy immediately to learn more about what the hospitality group had to offer. “We visited hotels and met with team members and learned that Loews properties are uniquely individual and their locations are extremely desirable within each city,” Scott explained. “What makes a stay particularly special is that Loews team members are empowered to provide truly personal service to guests, and that both team members and guests share a view that travel is a basic human want and need.”
The two collaborated and, after months of fine tuning their project, launched, in June, “A Wonderful Place to Wander.” The hospitality group’s national advertising campaign aims to build equity, drive bookings and strengthen retention and loyalty for the brand. “A Wonderful Place to Wander” attempts to embrace the human side of travel and celebrate the nomadic nature of people by encouraging guests to explore and wander.
The concept of travel being a human need stemmed from a year-long positioning exercise Loews Hotels conducted in partnership with Winkreative, a New York City-based branding agency, before moving onto the creative advertising campaign with Mono. “I think we looked at that [concept]because if you think about how we’re in the age where everything is digitized—everything is going ‘fast and furious’ to technology—we can lose that human element in all of that technology,” Casanova noted. “We think we’re perfectly poised to really bring that human, personal side back to travel, and we think that ‘A Wonderful Place to Wander’ really represents just that.”
While many industries are fixated on automation without the human element, Loews is leveraging technology in another way. “We see ourselves as utilizing technology to help us have more of a human interaction with our guests,” she explained. The goal is to have guests feel more relaxed, more comforted and have a sense of authentic belonging when they step onto the hospitality group’s properties.
The campaign plays off of the hospitality group’s locations—each has its own “authentic sense of place and belonging,” she said. Striving to bring each location to life, “A Wonderful Place to Wander” highlights each property’s distinctive attributes and attractions. For example, Loews Chicago Hotel is situated in the center of its destination. Guests can easily explore Navy Pier or Millennium Park by walking there.
“You’re at the perfect portal to anywhere in the city that you want to explore, but we don’t just look at ourselves as the portal, we really look at ourselves as the destination itself—so you don’t have to just wander out of our doors,” she said. “You can wander down the elevator to the city’s largest rooftop terrace, Streeterville Social. You wander through a cocktail menu. There are numerous ways you can explore while you’re on property, and we like that duality of ‘A Wonderful Place to Wander,’ where the destination itself is a wonderful place but the hotel is, too, and that you can wander the destination, and you can wander our property. It really shows how we are able to provide our guests both pieces of that puzzle.”
There are creative elements to the “A Wonderful Place to Wander” campaign, including high-impact digital units, banner ads and local print ads—which will run in select local markets throughout the years. “The bulk of our efforts is really on high-impact digital marketing to drive awareness with key target audiences for us and then ultimately drive direct bookings,” Casanova pointed out.
Loews’ new advertising campaign also has three new video spots. Internally, the hospitality group references the videos as the campaign’s “manifesto videos,” she said.
The advertising campaign’s videos are being shared via paid media, and paid and organic social primarily. Each video highlights some of Loews’ top destinations through the eyes of guests. “They’re very visual,” Casanova said. “They have a nice voiceover that really explains the sense of exploration—that travel is really a human need.” The spots broke in June as a digital pre-roll on YouTube, Facebook and elsewhere.
“I think what makes this work very well for Loews Hotels is it’s 100% true to who we are,” Casanova said about the campaign. “When we’re focusing on that travel as a human need, it’s something that we can wholly lay claim to. It’s something that we can bring to life on each and every one of our properties. We are a unique brand. We do offer that authentic sense of place and belonging to all of our guests, and we think it’s just something that’s very, very intrinsic and key to who we already are.”
According to Loews’ brand and marketing director, the hospitality company has been receiving a great reaction from guests and those less familiar with the brand. The overall feedback has been “very positive to date,” she noted.
Loews expects to expand the “A Wonderful Place to Wander” campaign throughout the rest of 2017 and into 2018, reviewing creative executive and adjusting headlines to focus on target audiences. “We do think that ‘A Wonderful Place to Wander’ is a perfect kind of campaign for us to really relaunch our brand,” she said. “I mentioned before that we’re perfectly poised to bring that human touch back to travel. We think this campaign is really helping us get there, and we’re excited for where we can go from here.” HB