Holiday Inn Express Extends ‘Smart’ Online Show

Holiday Inn Express next week will launch the second season of The Smart Show, an online series that focuses on the charms and challenges of business travel. Pontiac and TripAdvisor.com are also participating as key partners.

Last year’s effort chronicled the adventures of two hosts on a cross-country road trip from Boston to Los Angeles. The program invited visitors to Hiexpress.com/thesmartshow to help chart the trip itinerary by submitting what is smart about their hometown. The effort plays off of the chain’s “Stay Smart” tagline.

This season’s series tackles topics like rising gas prices (which is better for gas mileage, driving with the windows down or the air conditioner on), staying fit on the road, technology issues and getting a good night’s sleep. Digitas, Boston, and Endemol USA, Los Angeles, produced the series.

Two episodes will air weekly, starting July 8, through October. The shorts will be distributed on the Internet through Blip.TV and Broadband Enterprises with the goal of driving traffic to the Web site.

Of last year’s viewers, 76% indicated they would now be more likely to stay at a Holiday Inn Express based on the show, per the company. “The Smart Show Season 2 is a natural evolution from last year,” said John Merkin, svp-brand management for Holiday Inn brands in the Americas. “And while the Webisodes still deliver laughs, this year visitors are getting a more complete brand experience via the Web site.”

Holiday Inn Express hopes to turn the interactivity up a notch with features like the “Need-er-ator” where the Smart Show team and audience will respond to needs (what should I get mom for her birthday?) and questions submitted by viewers. Bloggers such as Andy Plesser of Beet.tv and Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV will post travel relevant content, which will be integrated with TripAdvisor destination guide and other information.

TripAdvisor will be promoted on the home page while Pontiac sponsors “The Ultimate Road Warrior Challenge.” Consumers who earn the most points in the hotelier’s Priority Club Rewards frequent guest program can win a 2009 Pontiac Vibe and other prizes. The “Deal of the Week” promotion will tout a weekly offer that can be redeemed with just 100 Priority Club Reward points.