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Hilton finds upsell offers outperform urgency messaging

NEW YORK ? A Hilton Worldwide executive said at CXNYC 2015 that the staggering growth of mobile Web and applications fueled the hospitality brand to begin optimizing its mobile offerings as part of a revamp of its digital experience for travelers.

During the ?Creating a Culture for Success: How Hilton?s Optimization Program Enables It to Meet Key Business Objectives? session, the executive discussed Hilton?s optimization initiatives, as well as tactics it has experimented with to drive sales. Members of its Hilton HHonors rewards program have also proven to be valuable consumers to target on mobile and on desktop.

?We did a major redesign across all of our sites about four years ago,? said Paula Sappington, director of digital optimization and customer insights at Hilton Worldwide, McLean, VA. ?Once we were ready to launch it, we realized we needed to optimize almost immediately.

?Most of our customer base still books on desktop, but as we all know, mobile Web and mobile apps are growing.?

CXNYC 2015 is a forum for customer experience professionals organized by Forrester Research.

Testing areas
Hilton places a heavy focus on testing solutions on its desktop and mobile site to determine consumer response. These tests often times are able to save the brand considerable amounts of money, which can be just as valuable as gaining revenue.

Hilton has 12 smaller brands in its portfolio of hospitality services, including Hilton Garden Inn, DoubleTree and Embassy Suites, and realizes some of its companies have similar checkout funnels while others do not.

This requires Hilton to play around with its initiatives to deduce which works best for each site, a process that connected it with customer relationship management firm Maximizer.

?With Maximizer, we are able to test things on the site that we could never get implemented in a short time,? Ms. Sappington said.

The brand looks to qualitative and quantitative research to dictate some of the influence on ideas, while creative and strategy teams submit best practices.  

Messaging efforts
One successful test brought about the inclusion of what Hilton refers to as urgency messaging: the small messages that pop up on a desktop or mobile site to inform the user of a certain amount of rooms left, or fuel checkout by claiming rooms are nearly sold out.

Although urgency messaging is an industry standard on supplier or third-party sites such as and Expedia, consumers tend to look at it a bit differently on hotels? branded sites.

Hilton experimented with urgency messaging on its own digital platforms, but found an even more lucrative solution with messages that upsell or upgrade rooms.

?We saw a very large uplift on that,? Ms. Sappington said. ?We only served it to our Honors members.?

Instead of trying to sell customers a different room with more amenities, the site found more success in offering a rate upgrade, with an add-on price that includes features such as continental breakfast or double rewards points.

Hilton?s recent push for mobile has been indisputable as well as necessary, considering the amount of hotel marketers leveraging consumers? personal devices to make their stays more streamlined and enjoyable.

This past January, as Hilton rolled out its digital check-in function to more than 4,100 of its global properties, the brand saw more than one-third of guests embrace the ability to use their mobile device to bypass the front desk (see story).

The hotel marketer is also investing into newer social media platforms in the hopes of attracting younger consumers. In April, Hilton promoted the Hilton@PLAY concert series, an extension of its loyalty platform, by enabling fans to virtually attend a Nick Jonas concert via live-streaming app Periscope (see story).

?We?re doing very small optimization improvements and very large ones,? Ms. Sappington said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York