Holiday Inn promotes travel planning with mobile destination guide contest

InterContinental Hotels Group?s Holiday Inn brand is teaming up with digital road trip planner Roadtrippers to invite travelers to create destination guides for a chance to win a vacation, highlighting the potency of collaborations with third-party travel platforms.

The two companies are rolling out the America?s Most Epic Road Trip contest in an effort to inspire travel enthusiasts to share their favorite locales ? from hidden gems to well-known destinations ? and connect with other digitally savvy individuals seeking trip-planning tips. Entrants can create their own destination guides on Roadtrippers? iOS and Android applications or Web platform for the chance to receive a travel stipend and complimentary hotel stay at a Holiday Inn property.

?Through much of our marketing activity for the Holiday Inn brand, we frequently collaborate with select third parties that are strategically aligned, such as Roadtrippers,? said Eric Lent, vice president of Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, The Americas, IHG. ?These partnerships enable us to drive engagement and provide value to our target guests through compelling content, via our channels as well as our partners? audiences.

?We were drawn to Roadtrippers because of its cultural relevance and purpose that aligns closely with our own,? he said. ?Both brands were founded based on the great American road trip.

?For Holiday Inn, it was founder Kemmons Wilson?s family road trip more than 60 years ago after which he created a hotel brand that provided a consistent, affordable and family-friendly travel option, and for Roadtrippers, it was a desire to help travelers find interesting places to explore along the way and revitalize, modernize and bring back the great American road trip.?

Mobile route planning
Holiday Inn is attempting to cater to consumers? changing travel behaviors, some of which include relying on mobile devices for trip inspiration and planning more heavily than ever before. This prompted the brand to join forces with Roadtrippers for the second year running to make it simpler for individuals to plan their journeys and chronicle their experiences while on the road.

?Roadtrippers connects the Holiday Inn brand more closely with travelers throughout the planning process,? said Natalie Akers, marketing manager at Roadtrippers. ?Dreaming of road trips, finding places you might like along the way, sharing trip plans with friends, and eventually navigating your route are all important moments of intent during which Roadtrippers and the Holiday Inn brand can provide assistance to road travelers.

?By contrast, the contest is an effective forum for Roadtrippers to gather travelers' knowledge on amazing places while facilitating community engagement like trading travel tips and suggesting great itineraries.?

This year, consumers who share their personally curated travel guides via Roadtrippers? mobile apps or Web site will have the chance to earn travel money and complimentary Holiday Inn hotel stays.

Holiday Inn and Roadtrippers are asking consumers to leverage the latter?s interactive map and Trip Guides feature to make their own destination guides. Trip Guides enables users to read about new locales, find them on the map and sync itineraries across multiple devices.

Participants in the America?s Most Epic Road Trip contest can make destination guides for their favorite places ? which can be small-town gems or geographic wonders ? for a chance to win the grand prize or one of five runner-up slots.

The judging teams will consider all submitted recommendations before creating one massive road trip on which they will send the grand prize winner.

He or she will also receive $2,000 in travel money and seven free nights at a Holiday Inn resort. Five semi-finalists will win $500 in travel money and a three-night stay at a Holiday Inn property.

Entries will be judged based on thoroughness, thoughtfulness and adherence to the contest theme. Entrants can ask friends and family to vote for their destination guides, a factor that will also be taken into consideration by the judges.

Voting is open through September 7.

?With mobile technology, travelers have become more comfortable finding and booking accommodation as they go,? Ms. Akers said. ?As a planning platform on both Web and mobile, Roadtrippers can connect approximately 2 million travelers with the best places to stay as they plan from home and on the road.

?The Holiday Inn brand has traditionally been a great option for road travelers everywhere in the U.S.?

Checking in mobile strategies
InterContinental Hotels Group is no stranger to employing mobile marketing tactics to raise awareness for its brands? properties and connect with younger, digitally savvy consumers.

Last fall, Holiday Inn Express edged out hotel competition on mobile by rolling out its first emoji keyboard to celebrate the brand?s Express Start breakfast bar, featuring food-themed characters such as cinnamon rolls and oatmeal (see story).

Earlier in the season, the hospitality marketer hit the road with a Pancake Selfie Express vehicle that enabled flapjack enthusiasts to print a selfie on a pancake as part of its efforts to advertise the Express Start breakfast (see story).

Leveraging third-party partnerships with relevant travel platforms, however, may yield the most expansive audience outreach.

?We know that for all travelers, and in particular our target guest, mobile is increasingly important,? IHG?s Mr. Lent said. ?More and more, people are using digital platforms to plan, book and share their travel experiences.

?Accordingly, mobile plays in integral part in our multichannel mix as we seek to engage our target guests in the right places, at the right times. Through our Roadtrippers partnership, as well as through our other marketing efforts, we seek to provide valuable, meaningful content in mobile channels across their purchase journey ? with the goal of enhancing their relationship with our brand, and ultimately driving consideration and purchase.?