Driving Improved Return on Ad Spend During a Pandemic

Summary 

Choice Hotels is an international hotel chain, operating in more than 40 countries with over 7,000 properties. The Asia Pacific branch oversees five Choice hotel brands and over 200 properties across Australia and New Zealand. 

The Challenge 

Revium was engaged by Choice Hotels in the thick of the global pandemic to drive increased traffic to Choice Hotels Australia and New Zealand websites. 

Choice, along with the entire travel and tourism industry, has been among the most impacted by the pandemic and constantly changing restrictions.   

With a drastic decline in tourism nationwide, competition ramped up not only for accommodation in areas that were free to open their doors, but as did competition for generic search terms at times when restrictions started to ease (e.g. accommodation in Melbourne).  

The challenge for Choice was to find a digital marketing solution that would be scalable and flexible enough to: 

  • Allow us to easily put a hold on specific properties or locations when impacted by closures due to changing COVID restrictions and funnel more budget to areas which were open and free to travel. 

  • Enable us to start bidding on generic terms when the time was right, without sacrificing ROAS.   

The Solution 

Upon being enlisted by Choice to address their challenges, Revium’s digital marketing team sought to implement a strategy that had a core focus on the Choice brand as opposed to targeting highly competitive generic keywords. 

This involved generating increased ROAS through the application of multiple campaign types to drive brand awareness and understand the search terms that would best match the Choice Hotels website content. 

What this looked like: 

  • We incorporated messaging which focused on reassurance during the pandemic (for example, their commitment to cleanliness, flexible cancellation policies, intrastate travel incentives). 

  • We focused on protecting the Choice brand rather than trying to compete with larger booking engines for generic keywords and set up brand-only campaigns to ensure Choice Hotels had a high impression share for all property name and brand searches. This tactic was assisted by ongoing display and occasionally Gmail campaigns, which drove brand awareness and sought to increase searches for Choice properties.  

  • As restrictions started to ease, we approached generic keywords by using a Dynamic Search Ad campaign rather than selecting generic keywords to target. This campaign quickly became the best performer in driving reservation volume and maintained a ROAS 100% higher than our target despite being made up of over 30% generic search terms. 

  • Revium constantly monitored the account and evolving restriction news throughout Australia and New Zealand to ensure budget was being allocated to states and properties where travel was permitted. The account structure we setup enabled us to be agile and easily pivot on our geotargeting to accomplish this. 


The Outcome 

Revium developed a digital marketing strategy that effectively captured Choice Hotels target audience across Australia and New Zealand, driving an increase in search reservations comparative to the year prior.  

Success in numbers: 

  • 158% increase in reservations driven from search campaigns with only a 12% increase in total ad spend. 

  • 30% increase in reservation and revenue between the first and last 6 months of working with Choice leading to a 22% improvement in ROAS. 

  • 44% increase in SEM traffic and decreased CPC by 26%. 

  • Since taking over the account in May 2020, we’ve achieved a ROAS 55% higher than our KPI.

Key Takeaways: 

  • During periods of high competition, don’t forget to protect brand searches. However, you should ensure that bidding on your own brand terms does not reduce your organic search performance.  

  • Utilise different campaign types to get results: 

  • Drive brand awareness using display and Gmail (now Discovery) to push traffic through your brand campaigns. 

  • Experiment with Dynamic Search Ads to test the generic keyword waters and understand which search terms best match your website content. This can help to form the start of a generic keyword strategy, while also helping you to understand where gaps might exist in your website content.