Brilliant. A word we rarely use in the USA, the British will hear of a good idea and respond "brilliant." When I saw "Motel 6 Offers Free Rooms to 3 Rock Bands" in USAToday I simply thought "brilliant."
Do you remember the old Motel 6 ads? "We'll keep the Light on For You" was how Tom Bodett, a National Public Service radio announcer from Alaska enticed people. Using a very rural, almost corny approach to undersell the rooms, this tied to 1950ish thoughts about visiting distant relatives. It wasn't a bad ad. And it probably worked really well (I still remember the ads) for years after release in 1986. But that tone doesn't have much appeal to the younger generation. 29 years after being launched, the under 35 crowd doesn't remember this ad – nor did they grow up in a rural America – nor do they know the origins of looking for reliable, clean motels on a cross-country trip during the early days of interstate highways. And they simply don't care. That ad program ran its course, to be polite. Motel 6 might be a good product, but it was slipping away into the oblivion of brands you forget – like Howard Johnson's. Or Ovaltine.
Hand it to management of Motel 6 and parent Accor, they Disrupted the old approach by offering free rooms to rock bands. If you've read my previous posts on the music business you know that musicians end up covering their own cost for travel – and as the USAToday article points out, many band members spend most nights sleeping in the van or on the floor of someone's house. It's definitely not free booze and hooliganism in a 5-star property. So these band members are quite pleased to have someone offer them free rooms – clean, tidy and comfortable.
Now those band members can reach out to their followers via Twitter and Facebook with positive comments and thanks for these rooms. A medium where you can't buy ads, but where reputations can be created and expanded. Not only promoting Motel 6, but promoting to an audience the company wasn't even reaching before. And catching one of the most highly prized, and valued, demographics in the ad business – age 24 to 34. Who knows how long these young folks might remain customers, after they discover the wonders of clean, affordable lodging.
Anybody can do what Motel 6 just did to help re-invigorate your business. It would have been very easy for sleepy Motel 6 brand to have remained where it was, doing what it always did. And continue losing mind-share, as well as profitability. But this move, at an amazingly low cost (literally, advertising in exchange for product, is an incredible deal – and a lot cheaper than those old radio ads), will revive the brand among a new group of customers – and a group that is not well served by the hotel industry. It's hard to find anything in this move that doesn't come off like a big win for everybody!