Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

May 02 2016

How This Hotel Brand Is Driving A Massive Increase In Its Loyalty Program Numbers

David McMillin

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In an online landscape dominated by Captain Obvious, Booking-Dot-Yeah and a range of other creative ways to promote cheap hotel rates, one hotelier is using three simple words to reinvigorate the idea of loyalty: Stop Clicking Around. You may have seen Hilton’s current campaign on TV or noticed it in a magazine on your most recent flight. I just stumbled across a full-page ad in the latest edition of TIME that arrived in my mailbox.

Based on the company’s first quarter earnings, the campaign is connecting with travelers. In a conference call last week to discuss Q1 results, Christopher Nassetta, CEO, Hilton Worldwide, said that enrollments in the company’s HHonors program have increased by nearly 90 percent since launching the “Stop Clicking Around” initiative. And all those new rewards members are doing exactly what Hilton wants — turning away from online travel agents to book directly with the company.

“The share of web direct channels in our distribution mix is growing five times that of the OTAs’ share growth in the quarter,” Nassetta said. He added that business from the company’s mobile app has increased by nearly 150 percent in a year-over-year comparison, and more than 70,000 users are downloading the app each week.

More Hotels Offer Benefits For Booking Direct

The OTA era has made finding a cheap room easier than ever, but the convenience for travelers has come with a cost to hotels that pay commission fees for booking on the sites. While Hilton has been a leader with such a robust advertising campaign, other major names are making similar moves. Hyatt recently announced new exclusive discounts for Hyatt Gold Passport members, and Marriott launched the “It Pays to Book Direct” campaign in 2015.

“We want to help dispel the myth that other travel websites offer better rates for our hotels,” Karin Timpone, Global Marketing Officer, Marriott International, said. “The simple fact is that you will find the lowest rates across our portfolio when you join Marriott Rewards and book direct.”

What Will All This Advertising Mean For Your Room Block?

As hotels invest in major advertising campaigns and guests continue to browse OTAs for price comparisons, educating conference attendees about booking within an official housing block may become even more complicated. How are you motivating the members of your audience to book at your host housing options? Or is there an even bigger question for the convention industry to answer? Check out “Are Traditional Room Blocks Becoming Extinct?” from Convene.

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