By 80 DAYS | June 27th, 2018
We were delighted when Soho House & Co and The Sydell Group approached 80 DAYS in early 2016 to assist with the launch of a new 250-bedroom 5-star hotel in the heart of the city of London, with ten restaurants, extensive conference and events facilities, private member spaces, gym, spa and retail space. A completely new brand in an already very competitive London 5-star market, The Ned was a massive undertaking and exciting addition to the marketplace.
Unlocking the Vault
A listed building, steeped in character and 11 stories high, London’s former Midland Bank was designed by Sir Edwin ‘Ned’ Lutyens in 1924. The building had lain empty for five years before it’s redevelopment as an Art Deco hospitality masterpiece, replete with rooftop pool, subterranean spa, private members club and bank vault room with its original 20-tonne door!
250 bedrooms and suites is a large room stock for any property, let alone an independent, brand new business venture. Coupled with a £200 million investment, the pressure was on 80 DAYS to help create significant awareness to help fill the hotel from day one.
We were tasked with a range of digital marketing activity to help launch the hotel, including;
- Reviewing their new website from a technical perspective, ensuring it conformed with SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) best practice.
- Setting up Google Tag Manager / Google Analytics and cross-domain ecommerce tracking through the SynXis booking engine – vital in measuring the success of digital marketing activity.
- Setting up hotel metasearch advertising – ensuring that they competed with OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia on metasearch channels right from launch. Often hotels struggle to capture all interest initially, with OTAs benefiting from the heightened PR and buzz around the launch of a new hotel – we wanted to make sure that wasn’t the case for The Ned. So far in 2018, metasearch advertising for The Ned is generating an incredible 31 : 1 return on investment!
- Setting up extensive Google AdWords PPC advertising, both brand and non-brand, to help announce the hotel to the market. We ensured brand was well covered in key domestic and international markets to maximise direct business. We also split their brand campaign into new and returning visitors, adapting the messaging accordingly to help drive incremental conversions from those who had visited the site before. Finally, we ran non-brand advertising so that the hotel would be discoverable to those looking for a range of non-brand terms around location, star rating, and newness. For example, we targeted terms like ‘hotels near bank station’, ‘5 star hotels london’, ‘luxury hotels london’ and ‘new hotels london’.
- Finally, being a Google Premier Partner, we enjoy a strong working relationship with the search giants and can often arrange for our clients to have access to Google’s latest innovations first. This was especially true with The Ned. We worked closely with Google and their Indoor Maps product and The Ned was the first city hotel in Europe to make use of this service. With so many elements to The Ned, all contained within the single building, Google Indoor Maps was vital in ensuring that Google My Business listings were accurate and verified quickly at launch. Map usage is on the rise via mobile devices too, so having an optimised presence here is becoming increasingly important. Both the hotel and Google were delighted, with Google inviting The Ned to move to a stage 2 implementation, whereby full floor plans are scanned and the service is integrated with the hotel’s WiFi for greater accuracy.
The hotel recently celebrated it’s 1st birthday, lauding great results for their first year of trading. Since launch, website traffic has been over 680% higher than that of the industry average*, with revenue over 320% higher.
We’re also delighted to see that the work undertaken in optimising the hotel’s Google My Business listings, using Indoor Maps, continues to yield impressive results, comparing May 2018 to May 2017;
- 6.8 million map views (vs. 263k last year)
- 860k search views (vs. 333k last year)
- 7.3k phone number clicks (vs. 3.5k last year)
- 2,028 reviews on Google – significantly higher than many far more established properties.
Not to mention some of the stats The Ned shared after 9 months of operation; over 1 million meals served, over 75,000 hotel guests, 18,600 spa treatments and an impressive 42,000 Champagne corks popped!
We’re not known for ‘resting on our laurels’. So, despite the impressive first year’s results, we brainstormed; how do we build upon 2017’s successes and reach new markets? One channel that the team was keen to explore was mobile advertising.
A Restaurant Near Me
Over the course of April and beginning of May 2018, we ran a food and beverage related search network campaign for the restaurant offerings at The Ned. The campaign targeted users within a 2 mile radius of the hotel, on mobile devices only, with ad scheduling applied (breakfast ad copy showing at breakfast times, lunch time ad copy at lunch time, and dinner ad copy at dinner time). In addition, we ran a general campaign that promoted all restaurants throughout the day.
Each restaurant has its own Google My Business listing, which was added as a location extension to the campaign. The campaigns were measured based on actual store visits (shop visit conversions), restaurant booking forms completions and menu downloads (both tracked using Google Tag Manager and Google Analytics).
These campaigns targeted ‘near me’ related search queries, targeting terms such as ‘Italian restaurant near me’, ‘steakhouse restaurant near me’, ‘best’, ‘breakfast’, ‘healthy’ as well as general ‘restaurants near me’.
Why did we decide on a mobile campaign? Quite simply, the numbers added up;
- According to Google, customers who click on an ad within a mile of the ‘store’ are 4x as valuable as customers who click on an ad outside a mile.
- You would expect that the audience size of those within a mile or two of your property would be relatively low, however Google also highlight that mobile searches including both a product and store name have grown over 95% in the last 2 years. In a densely packed City of London, that’s a lot of thumbs on a lot of smartphones.
- 9 out of 10 smartphone users are not absolutely certain of the specific brand they want to buy when they begin looking for information online – meaning we had an opportunity to win new business.
- Mobile searches for ‘’best’’ also grew by 80% over the past two years – another search query we chose to target.
- Restaurant related searches have grown by double digits in the past two years.
- Overall, Google state that ‘near me’ searches continue to grow compared to 2015, and this number is now 3X more as of April 2018.
Near me searches and restaurant searches continue to grow and we have taken advantage of this emerging segment by employing ad scheduling, only bidding on mobile, only targeting users around the hotel and ensuring each restaurant has a comprehensive Google My Business listing to highlight the location extension within the campaign. Not all accounts have shop visits conversions either, so the ability to trigger these was also beneficial, helping to highlight users who physically visited The Ned as a result of engaging with the search ads.
We’re pleased with the results from both an awareness and ROI (Return on Investment) perspective. In addition to a very strong Click Through Rate we saw;
- An uplift in overall campaign traffic by 76%
- An increase in ‘shop visits’ by 33%
- An additional 78 restaurant menus downloaded
- An additional 11 restaurant booking form completions
Jenny Harris, Communications Director for The Ned, was also delighted with the first year’s results;
“We’re really pleased with how quickly The Ned’s established itself online. 80 DAYS has helped us take a genuinely innovative approach to our digital marketing that’s allowing us build upon a strong first year’s performance. We’re excited to see what year two brings.”
Launching a New Hotel?
Are you in the process of launching a new luxury hotel? Please contact us to see how 80 DAYS can help support you.
*Industry average data provided by 80 DAYS Benchmark 5 Star Hotels in London index.