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Hilton infuses mobile throughout mass and personalized appeals

Hilton Worldwide is placing mobile at the center of its 2016 marketing initiatives, which include enhanced digital keyless entry options, its largest-ever campaign with a call-to-action for rewards memberships and a celebrity-supported social media contest, pointing to mobile's potential to build brand across demographics.

The hospitality brand is bringing a mobile-centric whirlwind of content to consumers as it ramps up to drive digital bookings and bolster its number of social media followers. Hilton?s strategy will likely help it reach a wider audience, suggesting that other hotel marketers should ensure that their overall marketing strategies include both broad and specific targeting tactics.

?Hilton?s utilization of broad-reach media to drive direct reservation was a very smart move, and highlighting its best-in-class mobile app for hotel consumers throughout the ad should certainly help to generate more sign-ups and download activity,? said Steven Solinsky, client manager at Millward Brown Digital. ?Across Web platforms (mobile and desktop), the hotel chain has created a well-integrated experience that reinforces both the direct reservation and HHonors app benefits.?

Casting a wider net
Hilton is introducing its ?Stop Clicking Around? campaign in a bid to appeal to non-rewards members and fuel more interest in the HHonors program. The brand is rolling out a national television spot advertising the discounted room rates that individuals can receive when they book directly via Hilton?s HHonors mobile application, sites or call centers.

The commercial reminds travel enthusiasts of the ability to use mobile-centric features such as digital keyless room entry, free Wi-Fi and digital floor plans. Booking through HHonors also enables the property of choice to provide the guest with a much more customized experience, especially since app users can request special amenities or room features.

The spot is currently available on YouTube, meaning that television watchers and non-watchers alike will be able to view the commercial at their leisure. Although television-first advertising methods offer less targeting precision, Hilton?s commercial could fuel a plethora of consumers to download the HHonors app out of sheer curiosity.

That would then give the brand additional users to target via mobile at a later date.

Hilton also recently announced that it has teamed up with Onity to enable more guests to use their smartphones in lieu of physical room key cards. The company's DigitalKey system leverages Bluetooth technology that lets consumers download the digital key via a hotel?s loyalty app ? in this case, HHonors.

The news arrives after a successful four-month pilot of the mobile capability.

Checking in social media
Hilton is also ensuring it keeps a stronghold in social media by way of a new contest, rolled out in conjunction with singer Andra Day. Hilton?s All Suites brands ? which include Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites and Home2Suites ? are staying aware of their target demographics and opting to target millennials on much-frequented social networks.

Consumers may enter the contest by uploading a photo to Twitter that showcases their morning routine. The hashtag #RiseUpRitual must be included, as well as one of three U.S. stops on Ms. Day?s national tour: #DC, #Chicago or #Houston.

Entrants must also follow one of the All Suites Twitter accounts in addition to Ms. Day?s official account.

A grand prize winner will be selected for each of the three U.S. stops. He or she will earn one night?s hotel accommodations for two, two tickets to an Andra Day concert and an invitation to a private meet and greet with the Grammy-nominated singer.

This is a smart strategy of gaining younger consumers? favor ? especially since those are the types of people who will likely make up a significant portion of guests staying at Hilton?s budget-friendly properties.

?Contests are one way to create stronger relationships between customers and brands,? said Justin Garrity, president of Postano. ?It is smart to reward customers and encourage user generated content.

?Fans are drawn to brands that reward relationship on social channels.?

Hilton also recently ramped up to target millennial travelers with the introduction of its midscale Tru by Hilton brand, which possesses a digital-first mentality with features such as mobile check-in, room selection, keyless room entry and a reimagined front desk (see story).

Last fall, the hospitality marketer?s mid-priced Hampton chain celebrated consumers who look for adventure on the weekends, a segment identified by internal research, with a new social media contest and mobile-optimized aggregation site (see story).

Hilton will likely experience an uptick in HHonors app downloads, as well as social media followers, following the culmination of these campaigns. While the TV spot may be considered as having a too-wide reach, it ultimately may convert plenty of non-customers into mobile app users, which Hilton then has the opportunity to hook with discounts and loyalty privileges.

Social media should also be an imperative part of any hotel brand?s overarching advertising initiatives.

?Today?s millennial traveler heavily utilizes social media to learn more, and share personal experiences, with both the places they visit and brands they interact with,? Millward Brown?s Mr. Solinsky said. ?Running frequent contents through social media would allow brands to increase interaction and relevance when millennial travelers are looking to book travel.?