Red Carnation Hotels PPC

Red Carnation Hotels are a collection of family owned 4 and 5 star boutique hotels in London, Dorset, Guernsey, Geneva, Florida and South Africa. Within this case study we focus on the PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising of their prestigious London properties; The Milestone, Hotel 41, The Egerton House, The Chesterfield Mayfair, The Montague on the Gardens and The Rubens at the Palace.

Results Snapshot

For one of the London properties;
Business via direct reservations rose 3.2% YoY.
The PPC ROI increased from 15.65:1, to 30.32:1. Which means that for every pound spent on the campaign, £30.32 was generated.
This equated to a rise in revenue from £76,646.13 to £144,279.50, from same advertising spend.
Transactions increased from 80 to 155, with a similar average order value.

Business Scenario

The group wanted to focus on converting more direct business for their London properties, in the face of increased competition from OTA’s bidding on brand term keywords. Their large commissions (up to 20%) were taking an unhealthy slice off the bottom line.

The Red Carnation Hotels Marketing team had a host of innovative marketing ideas, so we worked strategically with them to give the hotels greater presence and reach online, to generate revenue via the direct channels; website, phone and email.


Red Carnation Hotels have been working with Occupancy Marketing for almost 3 years and enjoy a collaborative and dynamic partnership. In the face of a highly competitive distribution landscape, Occupancy Marketing have ensured that Red Carnation Hotels stay proactive and innovative in their approach to digital marketing – continually challenging convention in order to maintain a competitive edge.

Suzie Wotton Vice President of Marketing, Red Carnation Hotels

What We Did

PPC campaigns were restructured to segment branded search queries based on location and match type. This led to the adverts being more relevant to the users search query which increased CTR & direct traffic, increasing direct sales. Another key goal was to increase the quality score, as this helped reduce the average cost per click.

For the first time, PACE (or ‘pick up’) reports were shared so the advertising ran only at times when room inventory was available. Not only did this allow for timely advertising, but allowed niche advertising for specific rooms and suites.

An innovative ‘double-visibility’ approach was taken towards PPC. This is where 2 out of the potential 3 PPC positions (top left) in Google were taken by both the individual hotel microsite and corporate Red Carnation Hotels website. Tactical PPC management ensured the bid prices were not overly inflated.

Rather than just incentivising guests to book direct in general, the campaign is set to adapt with the hotels marketing team evaluating what benefits appeal to their target inbound markets and creating bespoke ‘book direct’ benefits, with geo-focused, dedicated landing pages, accordingly.

For some properties, further innovations included hyper-targeted campaigns, with mobile budget weighting, e.g targeting ‘hotels in W1’ to target those within the vicinity of one of the properties.

In addition, some properties complemented their PPC advertising with TripAdvisor meta search campaigns to capture in-market online shoppers checking reviews.

A robust SEO program was already in place for the content across the sites and extensive work was conducted to ensure Google Plus/Places profiles supported the wider online marketing activity.


Sample results for one hotel showed;

PPC Performance (comparing 1st February – 10th April 2014 with 11th April to 18th June)

ROI increase from 15.65:1, to 30.32:1
Revenue increase from £76,646.13 to £144,279.50 from same spend
Transactions increased from 80 to 155, with similar average order value
Average position raised from 1.7 to 1.5. CTR raised by 23.74%
Paid visitor traffic up 11.09% to 9,236

Double-Visibility PPC Performance generated:

7,327 clicks. This may have been lost to Online Travel Agent’s if we had not increased our exposure in this area
An ROI of 10.8:1 with a % cost per acquisition of 9%. This is substantially lower than an Online Travel Agent’s 20% commission.

Further learnings

As a result of the PPC campaigns, business via direct reservations rose 3.2% YoY.

The double-visibility PPC campaign proved a great success and will be used in longer-term strategy as Red Carnation Hotels have set up an affiliate programme with a third party. By allowing them to also bid on the brand terms, the group can potentially push the OTA’s out from the top 3 paid spots.

Due to the success of the campaign, the overall new PPC approach will be maintained for the rest of 2014, which will potentially generate a further incremental revenue for the group.


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