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Hotels.com breaks Guinness World Record to promote new site for Middle Eastern customers

Hotels.com, looking to bolster the nascent Middle Eastern hospitality market, is promoting its new and improved Web sites catering to the region by setting a Guinness World Record for the “Fastest Mobile Bed.”

The event took place on December 13 in the United Arab Emirates, and involved a branded Hotels.com bed based on a modified Ford Mustang GT traveling at almost 84 miles per hour. The stunt was in celebration of the recently refreshed and improved functionality of its Middle Eastern websites, in both English and Arabic, to improve both usability and performance.

“Live activations and stunts can be successful if done well,” said Samir Addamine, Founder of FollowAnalytics. “Mobile and social has amplified the reach of such stunts and significantly increased the speed to market of activations.”

Fastest Mobile Bed
Catering to the Middle Eastern market is a natural move for a company working within the hospitality business for a number of reasons.

One is that numerous applications such as Airbnb provide affordable accommodations for a variety of locales around the world, while also offering something that ranks as a top priority for the modern consumer: a clean, quick and reliable user experience. It would make sense for Hotels.com to celebrate a faster site, as it allows the company to fully compete with brands that already introduce themselves into the market touting such speeds.

Also, with the recent influx of money and development into countries such as the UAE, hospitality brands would do well to strike while the unique crux of tourism, luxury and consumer culture emerging in the Middle East is still hot. Many brands are scurrying to become an established presence in the area, which is why such stunts as earning the world’s Fastest Mobile Bed world record pays numerous dividends for a company looking to do so.

“As a global business you need to treat each market independently due to nuances in language and culture,” said Josh Ong, director of global marketing and communications at Cheetah Mobile. “For brands to be in an emerging market they need to have a local strategy as a global business.

“This will enable the brand to activate campaigns with a better understanding of the market and who they are trying to communicate with.”

Emerging markets
The hospitality tends towards these flashy displays of grandeur, as any other sector selling experiences over product tend to do. For this year’s holiday campaign, Grand Hyatt Hotels called on none other than advertising’s favorite lyric baritone, Josh Groban, for a traditional effort hosted on non-traditional media (see story).

Not to be outdone, Marriott Hotels invied New York residents to visit an installation featuring an inverted replica of a guest room, snap photos of themselves in the simulation and upload the images to social media via the #MGravityRoom hashtag (see story).

“In any market, authenticity is paramount to a brand’s success,” said Mr. Addamine. “Authentic communication should be at the core and consumers need to be the focal point of any consumer marketing campaign.

“Fortunately with mobile automation, brands can use A/B testing to slice and dice audiences to see what communications are most effective in different markets.”