MGM Resorts ran an Instagram campaign that tested various travel-focused motivational messages, and saw a 6% lower cost per booking when encouraging travelers with “Return” to Vegas messaging compared to “Relax” messaging.
MGM Resorts International is a global entertainment company featuring hotels and casinos, meeting and conference spaces, live and theatrical entertainment experiences, and an extensive array of restaurant, nightlife and retail offerings. The MGM Resorts portfolio encompasses 30 unique destinations in the US and internationally.
lower cost per booking with the "Return” creative messaging, compared to the “Relax” creative messaging
lower cost per booking with the next-best-performing creative amongst all the “Return” creative variations
return on ad spend across the campaigns
MGM Resorts wanted to understand what motivates people to want to travel so that it could create more personalized ad messaging that sensitively encouraged visits to Las Vegas and bookings at one of the brand’s properties.
Testing a creative strategy
The hospitality industry has been challenged by declines in travel due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has stretched into 2021. Because travelers’ comfort levels vary greatly, MGM Resorts wanted to be sensitive about meeting travelers where they were. So, the team decided to run an Instagram ad campaign with the aim of understanding people’s different travel motivations to visit its Las Vegas hotels.
MGM Resorts partnered with its agency CitizenNet—a Premium Facebook Business Partner—to set up a test to identify the type of creative messaging that would resonate most strongly with travelers. The team ran a split test with three different travel motivator messages, which were “Return, Relax and Reset,” and each ad had one piece of creative specific to that message. All other campaign variables—including budget, ad format, placements and targeting—were the same.
The split test determined that the creative messaging that had the most impact among the broadest audience was around “Return,” a message that spoke to people eager to return to Vegas for the first time since the pandemic. Using this insight, the team continued to test by building and running four iterations focused on the “Return” messaging. Of those four iterations, the top performer was a photo ad that showed a traveler standing at the window in an MGM hotel room overlooking a sweeping view of the Las Vegas Strip, with the text overlay “One-up Your Last Vegas Vacation!” and the messaging: “If you’re looking for a sign to book your trip to Vegas, this is it. Slip away from the everyday. Vegas is calling.” All ads included a “Book Now” button that linked to the property’s website.
The team served the ads to a broad audience of US adults aged 21 and over living in key large city designated marketing areas. And it delivered the ads in Instagram feed, Instagram Explore, Facebook News Feed, Facebook Marketplace, Facebook right column and Instant Article.
MGM Resorts determined the results of its May 22‒June 8, 2021 campaign using reporting data from a split-test in Facebook Ads Manager, which revealed:
- 6% lower cost per booking with the "Return” creative messaging, compared to the “Relax” creative messaging
- 11% cheaper cost per booking with the next-best-performing creative amongst all the “Return” creative variations
- 8X return on ad spend across the campaigns