MCLEAN, VA—Unifying similar brands under a single marketing campaign pools together resources and unites messaging. For Hilton, this strategy has proven to be effective, at least with regard to its All Suites campaign, which links its suites brands. By doing so, its new campaign pitch to guests has taken off, and there’s more to come this year.
“It creates tons of efficiencies across every department, and all those efficiencies create cost savings that we can then turn around to develop other tools and assets…or just drive more information and revenue for our ownership group, so it makes a ton of sense,” said Christian Kuhn, VP of All Suites marketing at Hilton. In 2015, the hotel company decided to incorporate its entire suites portfolio—which includes Embassy Suites by Hilton, Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton—under the All Suites brand name.
Before All Suites, each brand worked independently—all had individual marketing campaigns. Hilton’s decision to promote its suites brands under the All Suites category paved the way for “Bring It,” which launched early last year after a seven-month journey of development. In collaboration with GSD&M, an advertising agency based in Austin, TX, and RBB, a Miami-based communications firm, the hospitality group designed this integrated marketing campaign initiative to reinforce the concept of spaciousness in its suites, across all of Hilton’s All Suites brands.
“We had one thing that no other category had and that’s every single room was a suite, so we could just latch on to that,” he said, recalling strategy sessions with the teams involved in developing the All Suites branding. “We didn’t have to be rocket scientists to figure out that that’s our key, but what comes with a suite? That’s what was interesting. It’s really this notion of space. Every room is a suite, and how does that space work?”
The team also conducted research. What did the group find? Opportunity. Surprisingly, seven out of 10 people surveyed didn’t know every room in Hilton’s suite brands was a suite.
“It was almost like this light-bulb moment,” Kuhn said. “Our assumption had always been that if it says ‘Embassy Suites,’ ‘Homewood Suites,’ ‘Home2 Suites,’ it would imply it, but it doesn’t. A consumer doesn’t know. [They think that] that’s just the name of the brand.”
Hilton’s team also learned the following: Nobody had a great definition of a suite. “Some people thought that meant The Rockefeller Suite,” he said. “You know, you’ve got to spend $5,000 a night.” Other respondents couldn’t pinpoint a definition for suite, so the team had a starting point.
“All of that coalesced into us trying to get out there with a message that really says every room is a suite,” Kuhn said. “More importantly, every room’s an affordable suite.”
After evaluating and testing a total of about 25 potential campaign names, Hilton’s team named the All Suites marketing effort simply as “Bring It,” a concept designed to focus keenly on the traveler’s baggage, whether it be viewed as literal or figurative.
“You can bring all of your stuff,” he said. “You can bring tons of suitcases, and gear, as well as kids, family and all these people because you’ve got space in suites. But it’s also, ‘You can bring your attitude,’ whether you’re tired or you’re looking for fun. All of that works in that big environment we’ve created.”
It’s almost a year later, and the hospitality group is seeing success with the campaign. There has been a 23% spike in brand consideration with consumers who’ve seen the “Bring It” spots (Hilton launched four in total). “If you’re a marketer, that’s a dream, right?” Kuhn said. “It couldn’t get much better.” A contributing factor to Hilton’s success with “Bring It” is that the hospitality group rolled out the campaign differently from others in the past.
“Just putting a campaign out there is one thing, but being smart about how it worked is what we’re really proud of; before, we were buying media for each of these brands and for the demographics and the ways we wanted to talk about it,” Kuhn said.
Some of Hilton’s collaborative creativity came into play with “Bring It” spots (commercials). There were originally three spots in total, until the team “took apart those three to create the fourth, so there were massive cost savings because we don’t have to shoot four,” he said. Each Hilton suites brand has its own spot, with four or five storylines; the fourth commercial, developed specifically for the All Suites division, is a combination of all three spots.
“At the end of 2017, there were more than 450 million impressions generated from roughly the same media buy [in 2016], which is a 15% increase because we could buy smarter and we could buy together,” he said.
Hilton invested its All Suites marketing efforts in digital, with a strong focus in social. The hospitality group also partnered with influencers. “We went really, really hard after them,” Kuhn said. After partnering with Hilton on the campaign, Busy Philipps, celebrity and mom of two, talked on her social media outlets about travel hurdles and overcoming them with “Bring It.”
“Every parent shares the constant desire to make things perfect,” she said. “But let’s get real. When you travel, ‘stuff’ is going to happen, so anything that allows my kids and I to be OK with whatever life brings is a win. Whether a quiet extra room to nap, having snacks on the ready or just a friendly face at the door, a reliable home base where I can bring my family is always a relief.”
The All Suites division has plans to continue sharing stories in 2018; however, instead of longer spots, the team is investing in 18 six-second stories. “Consumers today are just bombarded,” Kuhn said. “They’re getting hit left and right. There are so many messages out there.” Why 18 stories? Hilton doesn’t want targeting messages to go stale.
“We’ve got some really great ideas for 2018 that are going to capitalize on this theme of ‘Bringing It’ in fun and engaging ways,” he said. HB