The eMarketer of the Year honors excellence in hospitality digital marketing. It was presented by TravelClick, a global provider of innovative cloud-based solutions that enable hotels to grow revenue, together with Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI). In 2013, Best Western focused on launching several social, mobile and online initiatives to boost brand awareness and bookings. These initiatives were hugely successful, resulting in an overall increase of 31 percent in reservations. Additionally, 50 percent of all reservation revenue was generated from the web, and first-time web bookers increased by 42 percent. “Best Western’s understanding of what its guests want online and via social media has led to deeper guest connections. The company is consistently innovating in the digital, mobile and social space, and in doing so engages its guests in a way that inspires envy in other brands. The company’s appetite for taking risks, creativity and a true understanding of its customer make TravelClick and HSMAI proud to name Best Western International eMarketer of the Year,” said John Hach, Senior Vice President of Global Product Management at TravelClick. Mobile was a major focus for the international hotel chain in 2013, as it completely redesigned its mobile app Best Western to Go®. The updated app includes the option to store travel itineraries, organize trip planning tools, and a new convenient way to manage Best Western Rewards® accounts. It has been downloaded 350,000 times since it launched in June. Additionally, Best Western was the first player in the travel industry to merge a digital promotion, for a Disney Teen Beach Movie, with augmented reality technology. In-property guests were able to take virtual photos with teen stars from the movie and share them on social media. This app was downloaded 43,500 times and was shared a record-breaking 1.5 million times. As the first major international chain to enable travelers to book hotel rooms directly from its Facebook page, Best Western continues to lead the category with 800,000 followers, up 60 percent from last year. Two new Facebook campaigns turned heads and got guests even more involved with the brand. The “Vacation Citation” spring promotion used Facebook to reach out to business travelers and increased reservations revenue 20 percent year-over-year. Additionally, the “Loyalty Millionaire” campaign called upon fans’ creativity by asking them to imagine ways to spend one million Best Western Reward points for assorted prizes. As a result of this promotion, 1,500 new members signed up for the awards program through Facebook, a 6:1 return on investment. The 2013 eMarketer of the Year panel of judges were made up of digital marketing and e-commerce experts who based their results on detailed data from hotels’ e-marketing campaigns. The 2013 panel of judges included: - Barbara Taylor Carpender, CMM, CHSC, Creator and Developer of Taylored Alliances & Marketing Director at Global Marketing Services - Daniel J. Connolly, Ph.D., Senior Associate Dean, Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver and former Senior Hotel & Lodging Analyst with PhoCusWright - Glenn Haussman, Editor-in-Chief at Hotel Interactive Network and hospitality trend tracker - Tim Peter, Founder of Tim Peter & Associates, online marketing and e-commerce guru, and former brand hotelier Related Link: TravelClick