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The Westin Does Free for a Reason
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Free for free's sake. Customers love it. Brands sometimes see a benefit. But mostly it’s just free. Free product, free service, free customer smiles. So if a brand is going to do free, putting some strategy and thought behind not just the immediate response but the future is always a good idea. And luckily Westin is doing just this; making free worth something, making it mean something not only to the brand but to customers alike. If there ever was a free that made sense for a brand, this one is it. This is the way free should be done.

Westin Hotels knows its core audience: executives that travel the globe from city to city for meeting after meeting. So the brand realized the best way to inspire its target was by doing something a little different. By offering something free, but not to its most loyal customers. Instead Westin is trying a different strategy, one that gives nurses who helped during Hurricane Sandy two free nights at their hotels. But it’s more than just free nights; it ladders up to the brand's focus, which includes Westin’s new weekend services. So it’s free, free for a cause, and free that makes sense for the future of the brand.

The Westin brand is doing free nights to achieve future results while also thanking some very well-deserved (potentially) non-customers. By giving away free nights, the brand is able to put the spotlight on some hard-working people while also highlighting its weekend getaway services to its current target audience. So those business folk that use the brand for work week after week can now take a new look at the brand. Instead of associating the Westin with work travel, customers are able to think about a weekend getaway to unwind and relax in their preferred travel hotel. That is free with a mission.

And don’t think that Westin is undermining the value of the free nights; it’s quite the opposite. The brand wants to highlight those hardworking heroes that need a break, but they are doing it in a way that makes sense for the company. One that highlights what Westin does best and helps to align with what its core audience hopes to see. Now that’s a nice and productive way of doing free.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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