HotelTonight Campaign Aims GeoRates At Holiday Travelers

HotelTonight’s tongue-in-cheek ‘Visit, Don’t Stay’ message recognizes that professional hospitality can beat the familial kind, says CMO Ray Elias.

Nearly 50 million Americans will be traveling more than 50 miles this Thanksgiving, according to the AAA, and last-minute lodging reservations app HotelTonight has released a campaign to inspire those travelers to take an overnight detour from the family.

The campaign, dubbed Visit, Don’t Stay, was rolled out across online this week, featuring images and videos of quirky relatives that, no matter how lovable and gracious, might not be the best hosts for a sleepover.

HotelTonight Don't Stay TrioThe ads, created by San Francisco shop Odysseus Arms, conjure thoughts of grandma waiting with her doll-filled guest room, Aunt Mary to be your charades partner, Uncle Tony’s bad knock-knock jokes, and Cousin Gary prattling on about his online dating successes.

Canvassing The Holiday Travel Map

This HotelTonight’s first campaign under Ray Elias, who was named CMO at the end of August. Elias was previously CMO at StubHub for over a decade. Among his goals as he settles into the HotelTonight post is to connect traditonal storytelling and e-commerce data-driven targeting.

The primary venue for the Visit, Don’t Stay ads are on social media — with YouTube spots playing here — intended to reach a national audience in the U.S. as well as the United Kingdom.

One of the primary components of the campaign is ensuring that HotelTonight users are aware of its HT GeoRate program, which was introduced in June 2015. HT GeoRate discounts are found in the app for same-day bookings after 12-noon when you’re near a hotel, or any time you’re in a place hotels are looking to get more

“Among HotelTonight’s most popular ongoing features are our HT GeoRates, exclusive location based deals to help travelers score extra savings off our already discounted rates,” Elias told GeoMarketing. “Travelers can find the HT GeoRates icons signifying special savings when they’re near a hotel or in other locations such as airports and train stations.”

HotelTonight's GeoRates popup on the app's map to help users find the nearest deals.
HotelTonight’s GeoRates popup on the app’s map to help users find the nearest deals.

HotelTonight is offering “special holiday GeoRates”  through Black Friday, though Elias notes that general GeoRate discounts will remain available year-round.

Creating A ‘Perfect Alternative’

As he works to help raise six-year-old HotelTonight’s brand awareness as well as drive direct response, Elias noted that there are some similarities between his past employer and his current one.

HotelTonight CMO Ray Elias
HotelTonight CMO Ray Elias

“Similar to StubHub, HotelTonight is not a traditional holiday brand like many other retailers, creating both a challenge and an opportunity to take more of a risk,” Elias said. “However, we know travel is big during this time and so naturally we are very relevant and jumped on the opportunity to do something playful and fun, and that playfulness is definitely a common thread.

“The holidays are when extended families tend to get together, which is both a time of reconnection and celebration, as well as a time of those very relatable moments that can be crowded, tense, awkward and sometimes make you want to just plain escape for a little while,” Elias added. “HotelTonight’s timely value, simplicity and playful personality make us a perfect alternative to sleeping in your old bedroom, in a twin bed, with your significant other.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.