Hilton: Staying Relevant In The Digital Age

Image courtesy of hotels.bucharest-guide.ro
Image courtesy of hotels.bucharest-guide.ro

In an era where long-standing brands are dropping like flies, Hilton is making an effort to stay alive, and succeeding. Hilton has seen a progressive increase in their annual revenue every year since 2010, growing from $8.07 billion in 2010 to $9.74 billion in 2013. So how does a 95-year-old brand stay relevant? By going digital, of course.

Hilton’s Innovation Before the Digital Age
Hilton is no stranger to adapting their marketing techniques to match the times. Hilton has always strived to place their brand on the cutting-edge of travel amenities. In 1957, they were one of the first Hotels to offer out-of-town phone-in reservation services, which was practically unheard of in an era where most people would just show up at a hotel and hope they had vacancy (which sounds bazaar in retrospect).

Hilton was also one of the first hotel chains to implement and advertise its computerized reservation system, the Hiltron. The interactive computerized system even allowed guests to learn more about the city in which they were staying.

In the 1970s, Hilton offered Titanfax, on-site fax machines that guests could use. Considering 86% of Hilton’s guests at the time were businessmen, businesswomen, and executives, the fax service was a highly needed amenity.

The Next Generation (Literally)
Moving forward to the 21st century, Hilton is diving head first into user-generated content, giveaways, and social. Double Tree by Hilton’s 2013 DTour campaign invited travelers to pick a spot on a map, then record a video or take a picture, and upload them with tips and advice to Hilton’s website. After 5 million views, Hilton deemed the campaign a success.

Hilton’s campaign was a success because they tapped into an information stream that people are interested in. The hotel chain recognizes that people like to talk about their travels, and people like to listen to other people’s advice. Traveling takes you into the unknown, and what better way to get acquainted with the unknown than listening to your peers talk about their experiences?

Also in 2013, Hilton kicked-off The Stories Begin Here campaign to market their Waldorf Asoria brand. The campaign featured French actress and model Olga Kurylenko in a variety of multimedia short narratives in the form of text, film, sketchbooks, and photo sets. Guests were invited to follow along, and then could book themselves to stay in the very settings they were watching.

In 2014, Hilton is taking a slightly different approach with the Aloha, Godzilla campaign. In an effort to expand brand awareness, Hilton makes a cameo in the 2014 remake of Godzilla as one of the towers that Godzilla demolishes. Hilton is utilizing every one of its marketing channels to promote their presence in the blockbuster movie, as well as running a sweepstakes on Facebook and Twitter for a trip to Hawaii.

Since the early 1950s, Hilton has harnessed the power of technology. The hotel chain always wants to show their guests the cutting edge, from fax machines to social media. No matter what the cutting edge may be at the moment, Hilton is quick to respond to the times and take action. It is impressive for a company the size of Hilton to be able to quickly adapt to new technologies, try new tactics, and evolve with the ever-changing marketing landscape.


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