Hunt the Key sent Umeå residents out and about to win a night at the historic hotel
Having been closed for refurbishment for two years, Stora Hotellet in Umeå chose to try and create ambassadors among the local residents by inviting them to compete for a room at the hotel on opening night. Over two weeks, 49 keys were placed in public, but secret, locations across the city. Clues about the various hiding places were then released each day at storahotelletumea.se. An incredible 31,000 residents of Umeå took part in the treasure hunt and the newly reopened hotel achieved massive media coverage.
Over 31,000 local residents engaged with the “Hunt the Key” campaign. The website had more than 81,000 visits, with an average length of just over five minutes per visit. 1,400 people shared the link on Facebook, which resulted in over half a million views. The publicity surrounding this small hotel in Umeå generated a PR value of SEK 5,224,269, and reached 3,800,000 people. During the 10 days of the campaign, around 13% of all Umeå residents (approx. 15,600 people) were in the town looking for keys.
Stora Hotellet had been closed for over two years for extensive refurbishment. Also, three new hotels were due to open in Umea in 2014 and we were relaunching an existing hotel with the same name as before. We had to find a way to set Stora Hotellet apart. The hotel had been fully refurbished and we needed to get Umeå’s residents and media interested in Stora Hotellet. We also knew that previous hotel launches in the city had been described as VIP events for celebrities, in a way that excluded rather than included the local public.
One of our key insights was that we first had to win the hearts of the people of Umeå, before we could tackle the rest of the world. If we could pull off the feat of making them our ambassadors, it would give us momentum moving forwards.
“First we had to win the hearts of the people of Umeå, before we could tackle the rest of the world.”
What resulted was a strategy to involve Umeå residents in the relaunch in order to strengthen the link between them and Stora Hotellet. Promoting Stora Hotellet would also market Umeå and give the people of Umeå something to talk about. If we managed to involve Umeå residents and make them proud ambassadors, they would talk about, recommend and invite friends and contacts to the hotel. We called the solution “Hunt the Key” and decided fill the hotel with Umeå residents on the opening night and weekend. On the agenda were dinner and a party. But to be among the lucky few, people had to find one of 49 keys that we had hidden in public, but secret, locations around Umeå 10 days before the reopening.
Clues leading to the various hiding places were then released at 12 noon every day for 10 days at storahotelletumea.se. To receive more clues, visitors were able to link to their Facebook page and invite their friends to join the treasure hunt. The winners of the keys were then invited to check in with a friend at Stora Hotellet on 28 February, the day of the reopening, and enjoy a fantastic launch party. Over the weekend of the reopening, the hotel also held an open house, with the public able to book a guided tour. There was huge interest and we completed a total of around 3,000 pre-booked tours.
The press launch began with the first pictures of the newly refurbished hotel being released to the local media in conjunction with the launch of the “Hunt the Key” campaign. This was followed by presswork and continuous activity via our own channels over the whole period to encourage the hunt for the keys and to pass on tips. This was essential for us to spread the message and generate engagement.
An independent campaign measurement was conducted to check the figures and they told a clear story. We now had in black and white what we knew from the massive interest, in the town, the media and social media.
“Of Umeå’s 120,000 residents, around 74% were aware of the launch campaign, around 70% were positive about Stora Hotellet and 69% would consider visiting Stora Hotellet.”
Of Umeå’s 120,000 residents, around 74% were aware of the launch campaign, around 70% were positive about Stora Hotellet and 69% would consider visiting Stora Hotellet. A healthy 49% would recommend Stora Hotellet to friends and acquaintances, without even having visited it. Over the 10 days of the campaign, around 13% of all Umeå residents (approx. 15,600 people) were out at lunchtime, physically looking for keys to the opening night. Of the 3,000 people who had a guided tour during the opening weekend, 99.3% were prepared to recommend Stora Hotellet to friends and acquaintances. The publicity generated a PR value of SEK 5,224,269, and reached 3,800,000 people. The website had over 81,000 visits, with an average length of just over five minutes per visit. 1,400 people shared the link on Facebook, which resulted in over half a million views. As early as June 2014, just three months after the hotel reopened, Stora Hotellet was ranked as Umeå’s best hotel on TripAdvisor. Today, Stora Hotellet also has a top ranking on booking.com and hotels.com.