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February 19, 2010

Winning Promotion Program Driven by Customer Engagement: "Bed & Breakfast for Disneyland" - Hilton Tokyo Bay

Hilton Tokyo Bay (HTB) direct online hotel bookings (room reservations) had dropped drastically, and management determined that the resort hotel needed a dedicated e-Commerce promotion site to reverse the trend. HTB is one of the Official Hotels located adjacent to both Tokyo Disneyland Park and Tokyo DisneySea Park, and the other five official hotels each had a dedicated web site in addition to their corporate reservation site.

As the last hotel to create a stand-alone web site, HTB needed a strategy that would stand out and achieve a very measureable impact on reservations. Planning centered on identifying the resort customers' unique needs and creating an exceptional marketing program.

Customer Insights

HTB management described the hotel as a 'Bed & Breakfast for Disneyland' as the main attraction for virtually all of the overnight guests is Tokyo Disneyland (TDL). Moreover, guests at all the area hotels were not brand loyal; and the portion of repeat customers was exceptionally low.

In-depth customer research focused on motivations and behaviors when selecting a hotel. Approximately 70% of the visitors reported using the web for selecting a hotel and by far the key search attribute was price. These findings both validated the importance of the digital channel for marketing and highlighted the creative challenge.

Our attention was drawn to a set of non-price criteria that described the desired "resort experience". The key value proposition was identified as "vacation fit" - how did the hotel complement and add something extra to a Disneyland visit. The desired attributes were: vacation, fantasy, new experiences. These were emotional connections that could cultivate customer engagement.

Creative Solution

The mission was to create a promotion site to engage, convert and retain fickle customers. Three inter-related elements formed the core of the creative solution:

  • Branding; depicting a rich TDL-HTB resort experience
  • Promotion: a platform for special offers and plans
  • Engagement: delivering a 3 R's customer experience

The resort element was the foundation. Embracing the 'Bed & Breakfast for Disneyland' role,  a key part of the design brief was expanding and leveraging the brand association. The promotion element supported the branding and  also  addressed the customers' emotional needs. Short-term special offers were aimed at supplying the desired fantasy and new experience. And the 3 R's (Resort, Restaurant, Room) expressed the intent to complete the experience through all aspects of the visitor's hotel stay.

The top page of the new HTB web site was used as a billboard - to grab the attention of casual browsers and comparison shoppers alike. Accordingly, the top page changed frequently and (controversially) did not look like a traditional hotel site. The concept of 'theme' promotions was developed to bring the creative elements together and continually enhance the brand image.

One type of theme was a hotel offer produced around a current TDL promotion to highlight the Disney relationship. The theme promotion also added in-hotel dimensions to complete the 3 R's overnight experience. The example of Disney Kids Summer Adventure features the tie-in very explicitly. The Halloween theme, picking up on the TDL seasonal promotion and emulating their creative style, was more subtle. In all cases, the extra effort to take the theme into the hotel added something new and something extra to complete a distinctive 'Bed & Breakfast for Disneyland' offer.


The web strategy encompassed competing marketing and user needs. The top page plus related promotion content provided the distinctive branding and fresh marketing messages. Each theme promotion was presented in an individualistic and original style.

The primary navigational framework and internal pages of the web site addressed the standard hotel information and reservation needs in a more traditional manner, although even 'standard' content and execution were enhanced based on the customer research. Additional detailed customer insights relating to decision-maker, customer segment, and Japanese cultural aspects all became part of the final design brief.

Bottom Line

What originally started out as a request for a web site plan quickly evolved into a broad-based marketing and promotion program. While hotel activities, events and special offers are basic marketing tools for all hotels, the theme promotions integrated online and offline activities and addressed the particular needs of a key resort customer segment. The web site was the entry point for presenting the resort hotel marketing message and offering a truly exceptional customer experience.

The downward trend in direct online bookings reversed immediately with the launch of the dedicated marketing site. Over the next 18 months the site was responsible for increasing direct online bookings 300%.

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