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Unearthing Shangri-La's big ideaL


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Found out how the Asian-based hotel group with over 65 properties, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, got travelers to rethink about their entire decision-marking process.

Published in: Education, Travel

Unearthing Shangri-La's big ideaL

  1. 1. how can a hotel brandget travelers to rethink theirentire decision-making process?
  2. 2. lofty ambitions of a courageous brand An Asian-based hotel group with over 65 properties, Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts had bigaspirations: to break into the major league of international luxury hotel brands. Shangri-La sought to be considered on a par with the likes of Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton.
  3. 3. the cultural tension in business travel We started our investigation with frequent travelers, whom we talked to in cities from London to Hong Kong. On the surface they seemed to have it all, staying at five-star hotels, with staff at their beck and call and all the luxurious surroundings they could ask for. Until we started probing deeper… “I had to keep changing flights. It was such a painful experience that at the end, I broke down crying when I finally got on my last flight.” “The staff always give you the ‘our hotel policy forbids’or ‘it has not been done’, but I don’t care, I just want to feel like they understand.” Modern business travel, we realized, is an alienating experience. The business traveler shuttles from one foreign city to another, to return to the four walls of hotel rooms that are different yet all the same… and goes through it alone. If this was the business travel experience, why on earth would they want to collect more points? There it was, staring at us in the face, the thing that was so desperately lacking: humanity and authenticity.
  4. 4. shangri-la’s best selfOur ‘eureka’ moment came when we sat with the Directorof Training. She said, “It’s not the marble floors or thechandeliers but the care that brings a person back…Everything must come from the heart!” Something aboutthe way she uttered these words stopped us in our tracks.Another document connected the dots: “In our Chineseculture, a guest is an honor and a blessing. The most importantthing is warmth and treating them like family…”Suddenly, we began to see that this idea of Family wasnot mere talk but everywhere we looked:Staff told us how they viewed their role: “…Treat ourguests like guests in our home…serve them with honor.” Tradepartners who’ve seen it all said: “Shangri-La is different fromother hotels, the culture is different, and it is this culture thatmakes people happy.” …And guests felt it too: “They arecourteous, friendly, fun. A part of your family”.This is something we hadn’t heard before in this category.This is about treating the guest not as king, which is acategory norm, but as kin, which we felt was probably thedeepest definition of hospitality from the heart.
  5. 5. cultural tension brand’s best selfThe lonely world of business travel Treat guests as kin
  6. 6. Shangri-La believes the world would be a better place if we all treated each other like family So, we found that Shangri-La already had a big ideaL™ built into the fabric oftheir company. And this big ideaL™ inspired emotive and relevant creative work.
  7. 7. print advertisingThe creative leap took the form of a metaphor that escaped the physical limitations of hotels, capturing our audience without their standard expectations of the category. The quality of Shangri-La’s welcome was expressed with visuals of animals embracing humans as their own. A universal irrefutable truth encapsulated our philosophy: ‘There’s no greater act of hospitality than to embrace a stranger as one’s own’. This is the very thing in Shangri-La’s Nature.
  8. 8. tv commercial In TV, “It’s In Our Nature” told the story of a travelerlost in hostile mountains, surprisingly rescued by a pack of wolves. They shelter him from the harsh environment and welcome him as a member of the pack.
  9. 9. The campaign was shared first of all to Shangri-La’s own family, the staff, in special events inviting them to embrace the campaign by recreating it in giant jigsaws, and sharing in writing what they felt was ‘in their nature’ on cards displayed in every hotel.
  10. 10. In recognition, loyal guests and trade partners were given exclusive previews through our microsite.
  11. 11. microsite
  12. 12. online banner Online banners targeted people checking their home news portals while abroad:this allowed the campaign to capture travelers at a time when the idea would resonate most - when they are away from home, and effectively made sure that we were talking to business travelers.
  13. 13. the results Within the first 3 months of the campaign, the TV commercial was viewed over 1.5 million times online and provided many responses. In that period, there were 780,000 incremental visits to Most significantly, the big ideaL™ has inspired 33,000 touch points - the men and women whom bring it to life day after day. “...we are proud to be part of the Shangri-La family.” “Thank you! I feel pretty good about the company today.” (Source: highlights from the quotes collected from staff)(Source: highlights from the quotes from consumers found online.)
  14. 14. With so much groundswell of conversation and emotion, Shangri-La is set to realize its ambitions andset new standards for what the experience in a top luxury hotel should feel like. As Shangri-La’s vice-president of brand communications put it, “We believe this campaign will add enormous value to Shangri-La’s vision to become one of the most recognized hotel brands of the world.”