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Why Thinkerbell Wants QT Hotel Guests to Pay Their Way with Curiosity


Why Thinkerbell Wants QT Hotel Guests to Pay Their Way with Curiosity

At the beginning of last month, QT Hotels launched a brand new way to pay for your stay at their fine establishments - one which harkened back to a pre-capitalist age of haggling over strange wares and mysterious objects - all in a quirky, modern spirit.

And, as expected with something so quirky and individualistic, one finds Thinkerbell at the heart of it. The Curious Currencies campaign was a celebration of the odd, the unusual, and the creative. QT Hotels gave away a year’s worth of free stays in exchange for customers’ most unusual personal belongings. 

The 'strangest of submissions' were then taken to be made into two ‘Lamps of Chaos’ by renowned New Zealand designer Destroy All Monsters. 

To find out just how something this unexpected came to be, and what the logistics were in collecting guests most unusual belongings - not to mention just what it was they'd be offering up - LBB's Delmar Terblanche spoke to Thinkerbell's Tom Wenborn and Annabel Begeng.

LBB> What was the initial client brief from QT Hotels?

Tom> QT have differentiated themselves in the Australian and New Zealand luxury hotel space by leaning into quirk and creativity, they live and breathe it operationally and this was an opportunity to bring the unusual into the way they show up in a brand activation.

LBB> Could you describe QT's pre-existing philosophy of "quirkiness", and how this campaign capitalised/built on it?

Annabel> QT focuses on creating an experience for their guests that goes beyond a pleasant smile and a chocolate on the pillow. When you step into the elevators at QT Sydney, the elevator serenades you with a different song based on how many people are in the elevator. The coat hooks in the guest rooms are tiny sculptural animal heads. The hotel staff ditch pencil skirts and white shirts for elaborate and colourful costumes designed in collaboration with Romance Was Born. They’ve looked at every single part of the space and customer journey and said ‘how can we make this unexpected?’. This campaign was about bringing this philosophy to a new part of the customer experience: payment. 

LBB> Was that quirkiness association something arrived at/built on through consumer research, or rather something intrinsic to the brand?

Tom> The quirk of QT is intrinsic. As Annabel mentioned, the business has eccentricity built in at every layer. You only have to check-in for a night's stay and be greeted by The Director of Chaos (There’s one in every hotel) rather than a concierge.

LBB> How do you go from a reputation for quirkiness to paying your way through unusual items?

Tom> Within the world of ‘quirk’ is an inherent level of creativity. The QT hotel environment inspires you and brings out a certain side of you that is more interesting and curious. It’s that feeling of curiosity and creativity that we wanted to extend beyond a night's stay and encourage potential new guests to explore their creative sides. 

LBB> What's the impression/brand association you aim to create in consumers' minds through such a campaign?

Annabel> We hope this campaign helps customers to understand that if they book a stay at QT hotels, they can expect an experience that is totally bizarre in the absolute best way. Every part of the campaign is absurdity wrapped in glamour, which is the essence of the QT experience.

LBB> "Curious Currencies" finished up at the end of October. Can you tell us anything about consumer engagement? Any particularly unusual items? Any metrics for engagement across social media/word of mouth?

Annabel> We received 600+ entries across the competition period, which far exceeded our KPIs. Some of the highlights included a $3,000 hand-beaded wedding dress, a 100-year-old perfume collection, a false eye, a first edition Charles Dickens from the 1800s, and even the uterus of a trans man who had undergone a hysterectomy. To date, the campaign has achieved a total of 74 pieces of earned media coverage across traditional and social media in Australia and New Zealand, with a combined potential reach of over 25 million people.

LBB> How did you get Destroy All Monsters (the subtitle, by the by, of this reporter's 4th favourite Godzilla movie) involved?

Tom> Destroy all Monsters is a creative lifestyle brand launched by Leon Wilson, a former ad guru. When looking for an equally curious way to showcase the winning entries, we couldn’t think of anything more fitting than a scaled-up version of one of Leon’s Mayhem Monster Lamps. Check out his wares.

LBB> How do you know when it's right to do a campaign that's interactive/experiential in this way?

Annabel> A hospitality brand like QT is experiential by nature. The value of the business is less about the physical rooms they provide, but the two-way interaction between the customer and the brand during their stay and the experiences that surround it. We can talk to quirk as much as we like, but the magic of QT has to be experienced to be understood, so getting people to engage and interact with the brand is key. Interactivity can also be a great way to leverage the power of a passionate and loyal existing customer base, which QT definitely has. 

LBB> Do you feel you've learnt any particular lessons for future efforts in a similar vein? What would you tell anyone else intending on embarking on a similar campaign?

Tom> We’ve learned not to underestimate the audience. There were times during production we worried whether enough people would ‘get it’ to generate the kind of entries and earned coverage we were looking for, but within hours of the campaign going live those worries were put to bed. The calibre of entries and level of engagement have really surprised us. If it’s interesting enough, they will come. 

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Thinkerbell, Wed, 16 Nov 2022 04:36:32 GMT