Industry Update
Press Release29 June 2018

Best Western® Hotels & Resorts and IBM Watson Advertising Introduce AI-powered Ad to Help Consumers Personalize Vacation Planning

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Best Western International

NEW YORK -- Vacations are meant to be enjoyable but planning activities and finding appropriate accommodations can be a stressful experience. IBM Watson Advertising (NYSE: IBM) and Best Western have teamed up to help take the sting out of summer travel with a new interactive AI-powered ad. Best Western's Watson Ad personalizes vacation planning by providing consumers with travel tips and tricks, recommendations for local accommodations, and special offers based on their travel preferences.

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Best Western is the first hospitality brand to launch a Watson Ads campaign. Watson Ads have launched in multiple industries including automotive, consumer healthcare, consumer packaged goods and entertainment.

Vacation Planning Made Easier with Best Western's AI-Powered Ad

Consumers can start a conversation with Best Western's AI-powered ad by simply engaging the ad and providing information on their current or upcoming travel plans. Through a series of dialogue prompts, the consumer will be guided seamlessly through a conversation about their travel needs and the AI-powered ad will respond with tailored suggestions on how to make the most out of their vacation and how they can take advantage of Best Western's locations across North America.

"We're thrilled to partner with IBM Watson Advertising, as this cutting-edge AI-powered ad will allow us to drive more meaningful engagement with travelers, while showcasing all that today's Best Western has to offer," said Dorothy Dowling, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Best Western Hotels & Resorts. "As the first hospitality brand to launch a Watson Ads campaign, we look forward to continuing our position as a frontrunner in innovation."

The AI-powered ad is driven by the consumer's questions and desire to learn more. For example, a consumer may engage the Watson Ad to share that they are "hitting the road to visit the mountains this weekend," and the ad would respond to ask for more information around activities that are planned such as hiking or sightseeing. If the consumer says, "We're going hiking," the ad could respond with tips on how to make the most of their hiking excursion by packing water, marking their parking spot, and fueling up for the hike with the hot breakfast served daily at Best Western. From there, the consumer can choose to book a room at a Best Western, take a virtual 360 tour of a Best Western hotel, learn more about the award-winning Best Western Rewards® program, or learn more about the amenities available at Best Western locations.

Best Western's virtual 360 tour is a unique feature in the AI-powered ad that helps further personalize the hospitality experience. Through the tool, consumers will be able to virtually visit different Best Western properties that are available at their upcoming destination and get an immersive feel to better understand what each property offers.

Best Western's AI-Powered ads are available on weather.com and The Weather Channel app.

"Since launching Watson Ads in 2016, we have seen how AI-powered ads can help brands deepen engagement and increase brand awareness amongst consumers," said Carrie Seifer, Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer, IBM Watson Content & IoT Platform. "We are thrilled to team up with Best Western, one of the world's most innovative companies, on an AI-powered ad campaign that will help personalize the vacation planning experience for consumers.

Watson Ads is an industry-first AI-powered advertising creative that leverages machine learning and natural language processing to make sense of unstructured data sets and enables brands to have two-way conversations with consumers. These personalized experiences empower consumers to ask the questions that truly matter the most to them during their customer journey —creating meaningful connections with the brand that may ultimately impact purchase consideration and reveal new brand insights.

IBM Watson AdvertisingIBM Watson Advertising (formerly The Weather Company's ad sales business) offers agencies and marketers an ecosystem of media, data, and AI technology solutions to help improve decision-making and reduce costs across key facets of the marketing lifecycle (from media planning through measurement). Watson Advertising is part of the IBM Watson Content and IoT Platform portfolio, which includes The Weather Company, Watson IoT Platform, and Watson Media. For more information, visit watsonadvertising.com.

About Best Western® Hotels & Resorts

Best Western Hotels & Resorts headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, is a privately held hotel brand within the BWH Hotel GroupSM global network. With 18 brands and approximately 4,700 hotels in over 100 countries and territories worldwide*, BWH Hotel Group suits the needs of developers and guests in every market. Brands include Best Western®, Best Western Plus®, Best Western Premier®, Executive Residency by Best Western®, Vīb®, GLō®, Aiden®, Sadie®, BW Premier Collection® and BW Signature Collection®. Through acquisition, WorldHotelsTM Luxury, WorldHotels Elite, WorldHotels Distinctive and WorldHotels Crafted collections are also offered. Completing the portfolio is SureStay®, SureStay Plus®, SureStay Collection® and SureStay StudioSM franchises**. For more information visit bestwestern.com, bestwesterndevelopers.com, worldhotels.com and surestay.com.

* Numbers are approximate, may fluctuate, and include hotels currently in the development pipeline.
**All Best Western, WorldHotels and SureStay branded hotels are independently owned and operated.

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