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Element Hotels fluffs up hotel stays for Fitbit challenge participants

Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ Element brand is driving stays at its properties and rewarding consumers with wearable device prizes as part of a collaboration with Fitbit that asks fitness enthusiasts to take a virtual walk around the world and log their milestones.

The “Walk the World with Element Hotels, Powered by Fitbit” event is designed to incite a spark of travel interest in consumers by spurring them to log their steps on the road as part of a global challenge. Participant will automatically be entered to win rewards at particular milestones during the week, including Fitbit wearables and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, which can be redeemed for hotel stays at any of Starwood’s properties.

“We’re very excited about this partnership with Fitbit and couldn’t have found a better, more natural ‘fit’ for the Element, which caters to today’s healthy, active traveler,” said Paige Francis, vice president of brand management for Element Hotels, Stamford, CT. “This Walk the World campaign provides our guests yet another way to stay active beyond our health-conscious programs and offerings we already have built into Element properties around the world.

“The campaign was also inspired by and celebrates Element’s growth as a brand, as the walk officially started at Element Vancouver Metrotown and spans over 14,900 miles to Element’s first hotel in Asia Pacific, Element Suzhou Science & Technology Town, in Suzhou, China,” she said. “This virtual walk is already being well received by a lot of our guests!

“We already have over 1,100,000 steps as of today and counting. We hope that Walk the World will encourage Element guests and fitness fans from around the world to add extra steps into their daily routine, in a fun and different way.”

Rewarding loyal fans
Element Hotels will likely experience a surge in hotel stays at its properties as a result of the brand awareness the collaboration will undoubtedly bring about. Consumers can follow along the virtual march from Canada’s Element Vancouver Metrotown to China’s Element Suzhou Science and Technology Town by logging into their existing Fitbit accounts or registering for a new one via the Fitbit application or Web site.

After they have logged in, members may request to join the Walk the World group to contribute their daily steps to the challenge. Fitness fans may participate using the MobileTrack feature within the Fitbit app on their iOS, Windows or Android smartphone.

They may also use their Fitbit wearable to track activity.

Entrants will automatically be in the running to receive prizes at select milestones during the virtual walk. Individuals could receive a Fitbit Surge, Charge HR or Flex sleep and activity tracker, as well as rewards points to use for hotel stays at one of Starwood’s eleven brands.

If users win Starpoints to redeem for a single night, they may be prompted to purchase additional nights at the hotel if they are embarking on a weekend getaway or vacation. A complimentary multiple-night stay could also convert consumers into future Starwood customers if their experience at a branded property is positive.

Other hotel marketers would be well-suited to engage in health-minded competitions with recognizable fitness tracker companies, as they can easily widen consumer outreach to new demographics that may have previously been difficult to target.

“Our guests strive to live a healthy and balanced life especially while on the road – whether traveling for business or pleasure,” Ms. Francis said. “A lot of our guests are already familiar with Fitbit, if not own Fitbit trackers of their own.

“This partnership with Fitbit allows us to leverage their tracking technology in a new and different way, all while continuing to encourage participants from around the world to stay active and keep moving!”

Hotels’ mobile footprint
Element Hotels is also spreading its mobile footprint across social media by encouraging participants to share their personal statistics and inspirational words via the #WalktheWorld hashtag on Twitter. Users may tag @Fitbit and @ElementHotels in their social updates.

Optimizing the cross-channel experience to align with travelers’ customer journeys is key as mobile leaves its second-screen status behind and becomes the primary physical-digital connection, according to a report from Sabre (see story).

The potential incentives from the challenge will likely incite many consumers’ competitive natures as well as drum up awareness for Element Hotels.

“While the incentives through this campaign definitely helps encourage participation – the Walk the World community group, available online at, will hopefully spark friendly competition between friends and group members to compete against each other and log the most steps, and naturally encourage people to log their steps and help us complete the trek from Canada to China,” Ms. Francis said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely, staff writer on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York