Skift Take

Although Choice Hotels may not see celebrities as mandatory in marketing campaigns, it didn't hesitate to turn to star power to sell the benefits of using its website.

Choice Hotels recently launched a new marketing campaign featuring actress Zooey Deschanel as part of its efforts to increase direct bookings.

Where Travels Come True, Choice’s largest celebrity-driven campaign in its 84-year history, highlights the benefits of booking direct, including best-price guarantees and loyalty perks. Playing a role called the Fairy Hotel Mother, Deschanel helps travelers find affordable and suitable hotels on Choice’s website.

It’s the company’s first major marketing effort since acquiring Radisson Hotels Group America in 2022, a move that signified Choice’s upscale expansion.

“We have a much more diverse portfolio now, so we have guests who stay with us for different occasions. We need to highlight their breadth of choices when they come to (our website),” said Chief Marketing Officer Noha Abdalla, adding that going upscale doesn’t mean the company is abandoning its long-time mid-tier and economy customers.

“We have 22 brands and more than 7,500 hotels, so we’re pushing that you can go to one place and get the best price guarantee no matter the occasion.”

Choice is the latest travel brand to turn to a celebrity to help build brand awareness in a competitive marketplace. Priceline launched a campaign featuring Kaley Cuoco, while and did the same with Melissa McCarthy and Busy Phillips, respectively — all this year.

“A celebrity allows you to break through some of the noise out there and associate yourself with somebody with the personality traits you want to be associated with,” Abdalla said. 

“Zooey Deschanel is accessible and like a best friend. We see Choice playing a similar role. I wouldn’t say having a celebrity is necessary or tables stakes in hotel marketing, but it is the right thing for us to do at the point we’re at in trying to evolve people’s perception of who we are and what we have to offer.”

The campaign will run across traditional TV networks and social media platforms, with new spots coming out across the summer. Investing in social channels like Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok is new for Choice and part of its efforts to reach younger travelers. Abdalla said the company’s customer base is changing as it’s attracting more millennial and GenX travelers.

“They’re at a point in their lives where they’re exploring different brands and trying to decide who they’re going to become loyal to,” Abdalla said. “There is an opportunity to create a relationship with those younger travelers and try to cement that loyalty early on.”

A recent Skift Research survey found that hotel and airline direct bookings in the U.S. peaked in 2020, but fell during the following two years.

Zooey Deschanel urging a family to use Choice Hotels in its new campaign


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Tags: advertising, celebrities, choice hotels, direct bookings, hotels, marketing, radisson

Photo credit: An image of Choice Hotels new campaign featuring Hollywood star Zooey Deschanel. Choice Hotels

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