Elegant Hotels Group Engage a specific type of U.S. traveler when re-introducing a Caribbean hotel brand to the U.S. market
What is an experientialist? If you’ve seen any of the new ads Starmark created for Elegant Hotels Group, then you have some idea. Experientialists are those who live to explore different landscapes, cultures, flavors, sights, and sounds. They seek escapes that become deeper journeys, and that desire leads them to Elegant Hotels — because when you stay at an Elegant Hotel, the experience stays with you.
Elegant Hotels Group is a collection of 9 distinctive luxury properties on some of the most coveted beaches in the Southern Caribbean, including Antigua, St. Lucia and seven properties along the beaches of Barbados — the largest collection of hotels on the island. While Elegant Hotels already enjoyed huge popularity among U.K. travelers, there was still work to do to build the brand in the U.S. market. The team also suspected that the existing tagline — Elegance with a Twist — was too passive to resonate with American audiences.
Starmark worked with Elegant Hotels to understand their goals and roadmap the best approach. We researched what makes U.S. travelers tick and used these insights to inform the creative team’s concepts and messaging strategy while creating a print and digital campaign that could be versioned per property and per category (all-inclusive, family-friendly, adults only and weddings).
Before we put any new work out in the world, Starmark performs research and testing, a combination of which allows the team to home in with the target audience. We need to understand whom we are speaking to, what motivates them and how the value propositions of Elegant Hotels will resonate with them.
We started our journey with Elegant Hotels by discovering what distinguishes the U.S. market from the U.K. market. During this stage, we used surveys and interviews to shine a light on our audience. We learned that while U.K. travelers come to the Caribbean to recline and relax on the beach, U.S. travelers are looking for more action. Therefore, we knew we should put focus on Elegant Hotels’ on-resort water sports and immersive island locations. Images of paddle boarding, snorkeling, and gorgeous nature walks were all featured, along with the unforgettable dining, accommodations and staff that exemplify Elegant Hotels.
During the creative development phase, we tested and validated copy, images, graphics and layouts using a variety of methods, such as preference testing and time cognition testing. We experimented with different creative and gather feedback from a real, impartial audience at every step. We validated the overall effectiveness of each campaign, along with memorability, ability to communicate the desired message, and how quickly it made an impression on the audience. Why does speed matter? Because research suggests we have just 2-5 seconds to create an impression.
We also tested the existing tagline against new thinking. Testing proved that the market did feel “Elegance with a Twist” was too passive. This knowledge empowered Elegant Hotels to make an informed decision about moving on to new exploration.
Research and testing led us to a winning concept that is built on the big idea that when you visit an Elegant Hotel, the experience stays with you. We coined a word to capture this sentiment: experientialists.
- Arrive sweethearts. Leave nature lovers.
- Arrive a mom. Leave a mermaid.
- Arrive city kids. Leave islanders.
- Arrive foodies. Leave connoisseurs.
To play off this message, the design cleverly allows the ads to feature two images, showing different aspects of Elegant Hotels divided by the stylized “e” from the logo, further reinforcing brand recognition.
This campaign was essential for breaking through in the U.S., but we also knew it was important to make sure Elegant stayed true to itself. Their warm and authentic hospitality makes U.K. visitors love Elegant and return again and again.
It also makes Elegant Hotels a constant award-winner. In February 2019, it was announced that Elegant Hotels CEO Sunil Chatrani was honored with the “Hotelier of the Year” award at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s 37th annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
From great leadership comes great properties. Elegant Hotel Group’s top-rated reviews earned them TripAdvisor’s 2019 Circle of Excellence awards for all hotels. U.S. News & World Report also announced that Elegant Hotels earned several high rankings. The House ranked #2 in Barbados and #44 in the entire Caribbean region. Colony earned #3 in Barbados and #95 in the Caribbean. Crystal Cove also ranked in the Top 10. Meanwhile, the entire Elegant group of seven Barbados hotels ranked in the Top 25 for the island. And The Landings placed at #13 in St. Lucia.
These accolades demonstrate the quality of escape that Elegant Hotels provides. We just needed to show U.S. travelers what they have been missing.