Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Nov 4, 2013

IHG tackles falling hotel occupancy with WeChat campaign decoding Chinese dialects

SHANGHAI - To drive "more heads in beds", hotel chain IHG has launched an incentivised game based on the various dialects spoken in China using WeChat's voice recognition and news feed functionalities.

IHG tackles falling hotel occupancy with WeChat campaign decoding Chinese dialects

To take advantage of the coming travel season, the OgilvyOne-led digital campaign is a short-term stimulus for declining room occupancy rates, said Lincoln Barrett, IHG's vice president of distribution and relationship marketing for Greater China.

It also serves to drive cross-brand behaviour within the InterContinental Hotels Group, Barrett told Campaign Asia-Pacific. IHG has more than 200 hotels in Greater China, spread out over five hotel brands.

A broader 'China Dream' promotion, through which rewards-club members receive one free night in any IHG Greater China property for staying two nights at any IHG brand worldwide, launched in mid-October.

To highlight the fact that the 'China Dream' promotion is only for Chinese members of the IHG Rewards Club (which relaunched globally in July), OgilvyOne came up with the idea of decoding dialects to push the promotion in a culturally relevant way.

As the main activation point for the promotion, the objectives of the 'Decode The Dialect' game were to increase registration rates for the 'China Dream' promotion, as well as the number of followers of the IHG Rewards Club account on WeChat.

"Therefore, communications needed to be fun and appealing to be an effective activation point," said Sarah Mills, account director of OgilvyOne Shanghai.

Players of the game have the chance of winning a free night by correctly answering questions related to three stories told in three different Chinese dialects (out of nine). Once all stories are 'decoded', players can enter into a lucky draw for the freebie.

If players get stuck on one story, they can enlist their friends to help by utilising the 'Moments' functionality of WeChat. "Game players in themselves become additional promotion channels for IHG," Mills said. "These organically drive awareness, buzz, engagement. WeChat has elements of both text and voice delivery, so using it is very smart".

Touchpoints to drive consumers to 'follow' the IHG WeChat account include earned- and owned-media assets such as QR codes placed on IHG's Sina Weibo account, personal MMS messages and emails, as well as in-hotel point-of-sale (POS) materials. Paid-media buying for the campaign includes ads on Baidu, Tmall, and Qunar.

IHG was the first international hotel group in China to establish an official WeChat service account. Nick Barton, chief commercial officer of IHG Greater China, said it is not a stand-alone initiative but part of IHG’s broader digital strategy to integrate mobile native apps, mobile-friendly websites, and mobile technology.

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