Stora Hotellet in Umeå was inaugurated in 1895 and was for a long time the city party and pleasure palace. In recent decades, however, the hotel had been transformed from a premium product to be a sleepy and obscure address with extremely low awareness and attractiveness as a result. The new owners, Balticgruppen, therefore decided to let Stora Hotellet undergo extensive renovation in order to regain his good old glory.
During 2014 no less than three new hotels were opening in the city of Umeå (population: 114 000) in northern Sweden. During the same period we were to re-open an existing hotel with the same name as earlier. The hotel had been thoroughly renovated and we needed to get the people of Umeå and the media interested in Stora Hotellet. We also knew that previous hotel openings in the city had been described as VIP events for celebrities and not necessarily for the general public.
Hence, we needed to find a way to get people interested in and talking about the hotel. And we needed the people of Umeå to feel that Stora Hotellet is “their” hotel and the one they would recommend to friends and family visiting Umeå.
We created the concept “keys adrift” (playing with the fact that Stora Hotellet in the beginning was a hotel for sailors). Instead of inviting selected people to an opening event we presented a competition were keys to the rooms at the hotel were hidden somewhere in Umeå. We selected places in Umeå that are famous or of historical importance to show that we wish to promote Umeå and are proud of what we have in Umeå.
At noon every day during the campaign we presented clues on storahotelletumea.se. The clues pointed to a place somewhere in Umeå where the keys were hidden. The first one to get to that place and find a key got two tickets to the opening event, dinner and accommodation at the hotel. To get more clues people could connect with Facebook and encourage friends to participate in the competition. In that way we got the social media buzz we were depending on.
The campaign was a huge success and reached almost 60 percent of the people in Umeå. Even more impressive is the fact that more than 25 percent of the population actually took part in the campaign in some way and that 13 percent (almost 15 000 people) were running around Umeå, trying to find a key to the hotel.
After the campaign 99% of the target group would consider to recommend the hotel to its business partners and loved ones. And during the following 6 months after the opening the occupancy increased by +35% compared to what was budgeted.
In the end of 2014 it was announced to be the best boutique hotel in the world and nr:1 on Trip advisor. Amen.