Hilton is looking to break away from the sea of sameness in hospitality marketing by unveiling its first global platform, a call to action that the chain expects to underpin all upcoming marketing. “Hilton. For the Stay,” is meant to differentiate McLean, Virginia-based Hilton and its 18 hospitality brands from the plethora of rivals in both the hotel and home-sharing space.
“There’s something different about Hilton and we have to tell our story differently,” said Mark Weinstein, chief marketing officer at Hilton, adding that “Travelers don’t need to be sold on the power of travel—they need to be sold on why you travel with who you travel with.”
Hilton worked with TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, its creative partner since 2017, on the new branding.
As part of the new push, Hilton is debuting a marketing campaign called “It Matters Where You Stay” this week that includes spots with Paris Hilton, a great-granddaughter of Hilton founder Conrad Hilton. In one video, Paris is shown using a connected room as an “extra-large closet,” one of her “sliving”—her term for slaying and living—tips.
This is the first time Paris is featured in Hilton’s marketing.
“Say what you will but she’s the original influencer,” said Amy Ferguson, chief creative officer of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York, noting that the celebrity adds modernity and her own personality to the campaign. She added that the work leans on humor by showing travel tensions, unlike some destination-focused travel marketing that “shows a beautiful beach, but never shows some of the struggles of travel.”
In addition to two spots with Paris Hilton, the hotel chain is also airing three other videos featuring common travel tropes. A family finds its dream vacation of a home rental looked quite “different online” than in real life, with creepy consequences.
Ferguson noted thatthe campaign offers a special treat for Hilton's fans—The Paris Hilton Easter Egg Hunt. "We snuck Paris into all commercials in unexpected and fresh ways," she said, "Our hope is Paris’ fans have fun finding her throughout the campaign because truthfully some of them are pretty hard."
In another commercial, “connecting rooms” takes on a new meaning for parents and their kids—and not in the “sliving” way Paris alluded to. Actress Catherine O’Hara provides the voiceover for the spots.
The campaign will span across Hilton’s marketing channels, with a focus on TV, audio and social media. Spots will air on both linear and connected TV, and Paris will play a “large role” on social media, according to Weinstein. Hilton plans to “show up” in several social media conversations around home-sharing or other travel topics, he said, noting that the campaign will include more TV spots in the future.
“This is only the beginning,” said Nancy Reyes, CEO of TBWA\Chiat\Day New York.
The campaign “is less to me about [media] channels and more about the niche content,” Weinstein said, though he did note that Hilton is exploring the metaverse as a marketing strategy as well.
This is the hotel chain’s largest effort, in terms of size and influence, since its 2016 push urging customers to “book direct,” according to a spokeswoman. At that time, Hilton was one of the earliest chains to encourage booking on its own site rather than through online travel agencies, as a way of gathering critical consumer data in order to offer a more personalized travel experience for customers.
After the hit from the pandemic, the travel industry is still maintaining its comeback, despite the high cost of gasoline and an increase in flight delays and cancelations. Hilton has seen its summer business activity exceed that of 2019, Weinstein said. First-quarter revenue jumped to $1.72 billion, nearly double that of the year-earlier period, alongside net income of $211 million following a year-earlier loss of $109 million.
“We are seeing all signs point to record level of travel that is not easing up,” Weinstein said.