From our humble beginnings with Conrad Hilton’s visionary first hotel in Cisco, Texas, in 1919 to evolving into an impressive portfolio of 22 world-renowned hotel brands more than 100 years later, providing guests with unparalleled stays is woven into the fabric of Hilton’s culture.
Yet, as history converged with the challenges of a global pandemic, our tireless pursuit of delivering extraordinary moments and unmatched service required a marketing pivot that led to the development of our first-ever global marketing platform: “Hilton. For the Stay.”
Transcending boundaries and forging authentic connections with consumers, it’s been a year since the launch of “For the Stay.” A year filled with valuable lessons and insights that continue to shape our brand’s narrative as we step confidently into year two and beyond.
Video courtesy of TBWAChiatDay New York
Birth of “The Stay”: Redefining Hospitality’s Boundaries
Hilton’s dedication to providing unparalleled hospitality, filled with light and warmth, never wavered. Yet, as we emerged from the pandemic, a realization struck home: The world wasn’t truly hearing our story. The hospitality landscape had become so crowded that our inspirational marketing campaigns were getting lost in a sea of similarity. As we were trying to think of an authentic way to get Hilton’s story across, we realized it had been staring us right in the face all along: The Stay.
“For the Stay” isn’t just another marketing initiative; it is the embodiment of Hilton’s identity and purpose. The stay is the most important offering we can provide to consumers. We embraced the truth that a guest’s stay with us is more than just a transaction; it’s a profound experience that truly matters. It was this realization that compelled us to break free from the cycle of short-lived campaigns and create something remarkable.
Embracing the Future: A Platform Built to Endure
As with any platform launch, we were hopeful “For the Stay” would authentically capture our mission, but we also purposefully set off to create a platform that would endure through the next century. Our vision was clear: campaigns may come and go, but where our guests choose to stay will forever remain significant.
Our vision took form through cinematic commercials, shot by TV producers and film directors who knew how to bring the brand forward in a way that poked fun at convention and yet was thoughtfully produced.
We built out social media storytelling, and we went from not being on TikTok to being the number one travel brand on TikTok, creating a 10-minute TikTok on a platform known for its 28-second snippets.
We worked with renowned figures like the iconic Paris Hilton, Conrad Hilton’s great-granddaughter, and McLaren F1 Racing driver Lando Norris to push against the common but unspoken pitfalls of travel in our “It Matters Where You Stay” campaign. We also put the spotlight on singer Brandi Carlile, showing her as more than a performer but a working mother on the road whose hotel stay during the Grammy Awards mattered because the biggest performance of her night was singing a lullaby to her daughters.
We kept showing up in unexpected ways that were still very true to ourselves, and it became a wonderful recipe for success. Consumers were captivated.
“For the Stay” was never intended as a fleeting endeavor; it was designed as a powerful long-term play. While we dared to hope for success, we were unprepared for the immediate and resounding impact it has had.
Customers are now seeking us out directly, with search trends shifting from generic “hotel in New York City” to specific “Hilton hotels in New York City.”Our digital traffic has soared to record levels as consumers wholeheartedly embrace “For the Stay,” seeking editorial content and driving views to our website to historic highs.
“Every Job Makes the Stay”: Making an Impact with Team Members
Another touchpoint that truly warms our hearts is the unexpected feedback from our passionate team members across the globe. Witnessing Hilton make appearances on TV during the same commercial breaks as their favorite brands, encountering Hilton’s vibrant presence on their social media, capturing the attention of their favorite celebrities who wish to be a part of our storytelling and hearing “For the Stay” in everyday conversations, even with children, fuels a newfound energy within Hilton, inspiring and motivating us to go even further above and beyond.
Concurrently, “For the Stay” also included a parallel campaign, “Every Job Makes the Stay,” that serves as a tribute to our current and prospective team members – recognizing that every job plays a pivotal role in making a stay exceptional.
“For the Stay” has transcended being just a great brand story. It has evolved into a powerful, unifying platform where each Hilton brand finds its distinct place, shining brightly in the hearts and minds of customers worldwide.
Stay Tuned: Embarking on Year Two
Our inaugural “It Matters Where You Stay” campaign will continue through 2024, evolving into new chapters of the book just being written. As Hilton heads into year two of the platform, we will help take the global message into new regions and adapt campaigns around local travel tensions to further connect to consumers. Recognizing the need to expand our storytelling to reach new audiences we might not be reaching today, we’ll expand into our luxury and lifestyle product portfolios and our brand-new premium economy brands.
We’ll also be adding campaigns around our secret weapon: our Hilton Honors membership program. There are 165 million people in on the “secret,” and we’ll help uncover what it means to live a Hilton lifestyle through Hilton Honors, including amazing membership experiences and partnerships. And, of course, expect to see more of Paris Hilton!
Our goal is to have “Hilton. For the Stay” redefine the very essence of hospitality, captivating hearts and inspiring the world one unforgettable stay at a time, just as Conrad Hilton once dreamed. This is just the beginning, and the world awaits with bated breath as we continue to script our remarkable story.
Mark Weinstein is chief marketing officer, Hilton, and Daniel Reynolds is vice president, head of global content, media, and partnerships, Hilton.