Case Study: Starwood Hotels & Resorts

Overview

With Starwood Hotels & Resorts, John Brown Novus created a stand-alone, data-driven content hub that would disrupt the travel narrative, engaging aspirational travellers with world-class content and driving bookings to its multiple brands in Asia-Pacific.

Discovery

Today’s travellers are drowning in a litany of pedestrian — often dubbed "inspirational" — travel content. Starwood’s challenge was to find a way through this noise. Partnering with sister agencies iProspect and Isobar, we performed a deep dive into the industry to come up with a unique content proposition that engaged travellers early on in the consumer journey to influence behaviour and bookings. Using consumer behaviour data, the mobile-first responsive hub gave people what they were searching for — authentic, valuable travel content without overt branding. Starwood was on board with the idea of creating a content hub and removing the brand to create content that would become a persuasive presence in the consumer’s life, outside of any travel-purchase cycle.

The Idea

We introduced Momentum, a platform with minimal branding; a magazine-style site with a willingness to entertain and engage the traveller, at its heart. We put storytelling first, to net not only traffic, but trust and engagement. Much of the content was unbranded: destination features, human interest stories, interviews, thought pieces and photo spreads. Any branded content was curated by our editors to ensure a Momentum tone of voice. Working with our sister agencies, we used a science-meets-creativity model that was driven by data. This allowed us to get close to the audience with consumer behaviour data, tracked engagement and an ability to follow readers through the purchasing funnel with targeted advertising.

Creation

The vetting process for any story was simple: branded or not, did it add value to Momentum? Editors at JBN acted as the gatekeepers, responsible for creating and commissioning content. We also analysed search trends and looked at keyword insights, social conversations and segment profiling to learn more about our readers. Each month we produced an average of 30 pieces of content, long- and short-form articles, photo galleries and videos. Our network of expert regional writers with a social following extended our organic reach. Where branded content entered the mix, we liaised directly with brand teams to tease out the angle that would remain true to Momentum’s brand proposition — the interests of our audience.

 

Outcome

In six months Momentum went from zero to registering 2.8 million page views. Through a tested and measured amplification strategy, Momentum registered 485 million impressions on social media, four million video plays and an engagement rate of 4.2 percent. The combined efforts of content distribution, amplification and retargeting led to 10,527 bookings across Southeast Asia, achieving a revenue of over US$5 million.