Hyatt Yields Big Response Rate with Free Wi-Fi Trial

Business travelers who have grown accustomed to ads on luggage carousels and airplane tray tables may (or may not) be surprised to learn that marketers have found yet another way to reach them: offer free Wi-Fi in exchange for viewing an online video while they kill time in airports.

JiWire, a San Francisco mobile media company, recently concluded its first test run of such ads with hotel chain Hyatt, dubbed “Free WiFi Wednesdays.” Customers logging onto Wi-Fi networks in 10 of the country’s busiest airports on Wednesdays from March 11 to May 6 were given the option of paying for Internet access or getting 20 minutes free in exchange for watching a 30-second video about Hyatt Place, the chain’s business-targeted properties.

The idea was to “create a real value exchange for the consumer,” David Staas, SVP of marketing for JiWire, said. “The customer was given the choice to opt-in and fully understood what they were accepting. From there what Hyatt Place chose to do was give a virtual tour of the hotel, which highlighted free Wi-Fi in their properties as a basic amenity.”

Thirty-nine percent of people chose to view the ad, though only 68 percent of those stuck through to the end, meaning 32 percent either changed their minds or grew bored with the ad and decided instead to pay for Wi-Fi access. The total completion rate was 27 percent.

Staas said that the drop-off rate was not a result of people being turned off by the ad. Instead he suggested the initial click-through rate of 39 percent was buoyed by people who simply wanted to see what the program was about.

“It’s something relatively new, so most people haven’t see this,” he said. “So we were probably getting a certain amount of ‘Hey let’s check this out’ clicks.”

“The great part is the 27 percent who did complete the engagement,” Staas added. “If you compare that to a typical click-through rate on the Internet, that’s very good.”

Customers were also given the option of continuing to explore Hyatt properties after they completed the 30-second virtual tour. Hyatt did not disclose click-through rates for that feature.

Hyatt executives were unavailable to comment, but said in a written statement that they were pleased with the JiWire program as a new way to reach an important but elusive audience.

“The business professional is a very valuable customer for us but can be difficult to reach in an interactive, engaging, and measurable way,” Alison Kal, vice president, marketing for Hyatt, said. “The Free Wi-Fi Wednesdays program we executed with JiWire provided a new opportunity to deliver relevant messages that helped us connect with business travelers.”

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