As it battles competition from online travel agencies and the growing influences of Google and Airbnb, Hilton is doubling down on its "book direct" messaging with a new marketing push. The McLean, Virginia-based hotel chain, which operates 14 brands, has tapped actress Anna Kendrick for what a spokeswoman describes as the brand's first celebrity-driven campaign, called "Expect Better. Expect Hilton."
In a series of spots, which will begin airing this weekend on TV and run through 2019, Kendrick promotes the strategy of booking through Hilton.com even as she mocks travel sites. "Book at Hilton.com and get the Hilton price match guarantee," her voiceover says at the end of one 30-second spot. "If you find a lower rate, we match it and give you 25 percent off that stay."
The push happens as Hilton and other hotel chains compete with Airbnb and Google, which now allows consumers to book through its platforms, and online travel services such as Expedia and Priceline. TripAdvisor recently rolled out a new Facebook-like social feed for its customers that purports to be a one-stop-shop for all things travel. Hilton wants consumers to book direct for stays in its 5,300 properties in order to build repeat visits and capture data from its loyalty programs. It first rolled out a "book direct" message in 2016 with "Stop Clicking Around." That campaign resulted in 4.5 million worldwide bookings and 9 million new Hilton Honors loyalty program members, according to Kellyn Smith Kenny, who joined Hilton as chief marketing officer in January.
"Since that campaign, we've spent time listening to customers on what they want and need within the travel journey and how can Hilton truly deliver against their needs," she said, noting the new campaign "is about reassuring our customers of the value and perks they'll receive when booking directly with Hilton."
Hilton, which spent more than $60 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media, worked with TBWA/Chiat/Day New York on the new campaign. Mediacom, which Hilton named its media agency in June following a review, handled media duties, and iProspect is Hilton's digital agency. In addition to 30-second spots, the new marketing will include a series of 6-second digital clips.
For the most recent quarter ended June 30, Hilton reported revenue of $2.3 billion, a 10 percent rise over the year-earlier period, alongside a 44 percent rise in net income to $217 million.