La Quinta: Targeting Business Travelers With The Point Solution Vs. The Stack

LaQuintaLa Quinta Inns & Suites knows while most travel within the United States is leisure-based, business travelers offer more lucrative messaging opportunities for marketers.

These individuals travel more frequently than recreational visitors, rack up more repeat visits to the same hotels and are less subject to price sensitivity, which are attractive qualities for hotel chains, said Amy Bartle, director of media and digital marketing at La Quinta.

“With the advent of better communication and proliferation of mobile devices, while we have more ways to reach people, audience identification has not really lived up to the promise of the technology,” said Bartle, who has worked in brand management and marketing roles at La Quinta for 16 years. “What I was looking for are ways to find a pre-qualified, business travel audience in an uncluttered environment.”

La Quinta turned to LiveIntent, which operates a programmatic email exchange with access to 70 million unique visitors across 3,000 email newsletters from 300-plus premium publishers. The hotel chain realized the opportunity to reach business travelers with content they were already interested in and subscribing to. Bartle said this amplified content marketing as opposed to pushing a sales message.

La Quinta was particularly interested in increasing brand awareness among 25-64-year-old men with an annual household income of $75,000 and up. The company ran a pre-roll video campaign on 19 publishers as well as banner ads placed in premium publisher newsletters like The New York Times, The Weather Channel and NBC Sports using LiveIntent. As a result, it increased brand lift by 4.68%.

What stood out to La Quinta during the campaign, said Dave Hendricks, president of LiveIntent, was the fact that the email channel offered the brand a highly verified business audience.

“The LiveIntent exchange is the only one that places these tags in newsletters, so we’re not competing with a bunch of [Web-based] exchanges and can provide access to a really proprietary audience,” he claimed. “The Web display world is challenged by impressions generated by machine-scanning pages. However, in travel, when you book a hotel or flight, you have to provide an email. You don’t have bots subscribing to newsletters and reading them.

Although Bartle acknowledges that LiveIntent has consistently delivered from the initial run of campaign a very high percentage of its desired audience (90%), she is skeptical about some large vendors’ claims to “do it all.”

Asked whether she, as a digital marketer, prefers the point solution vs. the full-suite digital marketing stack, Bartle said the notion of using one technology to deliver a fully integrated, cross-platform customer interaction is still nascent. But this is not relegated only to the enterprise platform provider, many of which are cobbling together various point solutions that have been acquired.

“What we’re seeing now as marketers are pushing cross-channel and cross-device, there are other technology pieces that are showing some lack,” she said. “DoubleClick, for all their ability in tag management and tracking, can’t do message sequencing across multiple banner sizes much less incorporate video to flash exposure paths in there.”

Second, “regardless of how good the technology gets, we do ourselves a disservice if we think everything can all be wholly automated unless we want to live in an A/B-focused world,” she said. A primary consideration for La Quinta is to pay attention to how various elements of its marketing expenditures affect one other.

The company uses Polaris Research to assess its online and offline marketing efforts via a mix model. “I focus on what happens to our online traffic when we’re live on TV and what impact it has,” Bartle said.

Additionally, a La Quinta Returns program has a loyalty structure where all the hotels pay a percentage of stays from loyalty club members to the brand for continued promotion of loyalty and retention among guests. “That provides an ongoing marketing fund that is specifically geared toward managing the communication to past guests,” Bartle said.

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