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HILTON WORLDWIDE - Stop Clicking Around

Through a diverse and intricately planned communication strategy, Hilton changed consumer perception and behavior, convincing them to book direct for their next hotel stay.

In a world of online travel agencies, each claiming to give the best travel and accommodation options and discounts, Hilton wanted to change both consumer perception (of where they could get the best deal) and behaviour – convincing them to go direct to Hilton to book their next hotel stay.

Price and value have always been a central factor when it comes to picking a hotel and booking a holiday. But that relies on consumers shopping around, dedicating hours to internet search and taking time to find the best deals. But with time a scarce commodity, research shows there is a preference for booking a holiday in the simplest way.           

Our insight was that the holiday-booker’s consumer journey begins far earlier than the research stage. It starts when they’re forming unconscious decisions about their next trip.   

This is the ‘DREAMING’ phase, where people start to emotionally engage with the brands, ideas, and experiences that they will consciously consider when they’re in the research stage. From the moment people struggle back to work after the Christmas break, and confront the January blues, they’re starting to think about their next holiday.    

We decided to catch consumers in this early, dreaming stage – and then disrupt the ‘full journey’ by showing them how they could skip the endless browsing – and focus simply on holidaying. Early on, we would plant a simple idea in their minds… ‘Book Direct at Hilton.com’.          

But changing mind-sets and, ultimately booking behaviour, required a disruptive idea. Rather than waste time clicking, we urged consumers to start living, relaxing and discovering, all while saving.

Hilton’s strategy was to drive digital direct bookings, with all the benefits of Hilton HHonors membership including best rate guarantee, digital check-in and free WiFi.
   

Following the herd and catching consumers who were already at the ‘planning’ stage would be too late. We had to launch early in the year to ensure we would be their first choice for 2016 travels.

Our choice of channels, including everything from laptops and smartphones, to TV and cinema, connected the message to the right media. By doing this we brought the creative to life, grabbing consumers’ attention in crucial moments and key spaces, before they were ready to visit online travel agencies.

We went out with a blast and owned all screens that resonated most powerfully with the creative and demonstrated the real contrast between ‘clicking’ and ‘relaxing’. Carefully selected formats and buying models guaranteed that the message was watched till the end – it’s Hilton.com that guarantees the lowest price online.   

We created a truly global campaign, with over 800 assets in 18 languages, in close coordination across all markets, ensuring adherence to the strategy.    

All our activities were carefully tailored to the different conditions across each market: holiday dates, market strength and available budget.
· Hilton’s biggest ever TV campaign launched in February (including a first ever TV ad in the UK), with breakthrough moments in must-watch TV events like the England rugby match in the Six Nations tournament, and Britain’s Got Talent.
· Cinema and inflight video advertising allowed us to engage captive audiences
· We aimed for maximum viewability where possible, with video on demand and pre-rolls in a variety of different lengths, targeting consumers who were already ‘clicking’
· Online banners retargeting those who had engaged with previous pieces of content kept our message top of mind.
· A weekly rotation of different print creatives throughout the campaign reinforced the message by showcasing all the things travellers could be doing instead of clicking around – be it playing, indulging, or exploring… 

The results of our multi-platform, cross-market campaign were tremendous. A total of 300 million media impacts delivered from February to April across the UK, Germany, UAE & Saudi Arabia. Some campaign highlights below:
· In the UK, the first burst of TV activity delivered 1+ ABC1A coverage of 78%, holding a strong SOV of 20% (in the top three) among key competitors
· Our Bank Holiday weekend cinema plan up-weight, with premium placements around Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (broke box-office records for March opening) allowed us to maintain a strong presence during the TV hiatus.   

In a highly cluttered category, we achieved great campaign cut-through, brand recognition and consideration. Overall we have seen a significant positive impact of the combination of extensive, high profile marcomms activity over a four month period, with a resultant significant change in consumer behaviour and attitudes.

The core business objective of driving web-direct bookings exceeded expectations:
· Web direct bookings up by 1.6% for the first 5 months of the year vs last year
· Web direct revenue EMEA up 27% vs 2015 and web direct visits up 11%
· Tracking studies have shown that 50% of UK hotel travellers exposed to the campaign are now more likely to book direct

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