Hilton’s New “Stop Clicking Around” Ad Campaign

Last October I wrote about how Hilton was introducing discounted rates for HHonors members in select markets. The discounts were up to 10%, and were an interesting move, which Starwood later matched.

HHonors-1

There’s not much substance to these discounts for the savvy traveller, since in most cases savings for booking AAA rates were at least as much, if not more.

HHonors-Discount

Still, it was an interesting trend to see, and the logic behind this promotion was pretty obvious. Hotels have to pay commissions (typically 10%) when bookings are made through third party websites/travel agents, so hotels want to do everything they can do get you to book directly with them, rather than through a third party.

Well, following the test on Hilton’s part, it seems like they’re expanding the guaranteed discount for HHonors members to over 4,500 hotels around the world. Hilton is also launching the biggest ad campaign in their history, called “Stop Clicking Around.” Here’s a 30 second ad they have for the new campaign:

Via the press release:

Hilton Worldwide today announced that Hilton HHonors members can now receive an exclusive discount on room rates by booking directly through its brand websites, award-winning Hilton HHonors mobile app and reservation call centers, or through preferred corporate travel partners and approved travel agents. This guaranteed discount is available at more than 4,500 hotels around the world.

“Our customers don’t need to worry about sorting through a dizzying array of websites, enduring hundreds of clicks and wasting hours of time. They can be assured that booking a room directly with us at any of our hotels doesn’t require extensive searching and price checking to find the best prices online,” said Geraldine Calpin, chief marketing officer at Hilton Worldwide.

“Last year, 57 billion Hilton HHonors Points – or more than 1.6 million free nights – went unearned because guests booked their stay through a third party,” said Mark Weinstein, global head of Customer Engagement, Loyalty and Partnerships at Hilton Worldwide. “There is a huge misconception that third parties always offer lower prices for our hotel rooms, which is simply not true.”

Those are some interesting numbers, in regards to how many points guests are forgoing by not booking directly through Hilton.

Ultimately Hilton is right, including the quote from Mark Weinstein. The “average” person does assume they’re getting better rates when booking through third party websites, when that’s not the case. There’s value in using third party websites to compare rates across different hotel chains, but then you should book directly with the hotel once you’ve made your decision.

The one exception is non-affiliated hotel, where you can get value by booking through a third party website, be it Rocketmiles or hotels.com (since they have a loyalty program). But for stays at chain hotels, you’re generally better off booking direct.

Stop-Clicking-Around-Hilton

Bottom line

Hotels have really been trying to drive home the point of booking directly with them rather than through a third party for quite a while now. They’ve added benefits to members of their loyalty program who book direct, like complimentary wifi, and now are also focusing their marketing dollars on this.

It’s a smart move, and it’s interesting that this is going to be Hilton’s biggest ad campaign ever. It really shows you how badly they want you to book directly with them, which I can’t blame them for — in many cases they’re leaving 10% of revenue “on the table” by having guests book through a third party.

It will be interesting to see if a campaign like this resonates with consumers.

Comments

  1. Lucky,

    I’m staying in New York a few days in early June. I first went straight to the Hyatt.com Andaz Wall Street website and saw their lowest room rate was $325 per night ($293 if you’re a Gold Passport member). I than checked TripAdvisor and booked a room at the Andaz Wall Street (throught TripAdvisor GetARoom) for $213 per night.

    The point is I never saw this rate for any room at the Hyatt website. I than sent a claim through their price guarantee, we’ll see if they match it (plus an additional 20% off).

    This is why people book through 3rd party websites.

  2. Last week, booked Barcelona Doubletree. Called Hilton to try to book the substantially cheaper rate I was seeing on Expedia. Not possible. I was advised to complete the inflated booking over the phone, then go to a particular Hilton URL to execute the guarantee. But first, would I mind a 5-minute phone survey for 500 points? Sure, OK. Had you made it clear this would be a timeshare pitch, no thank you. Granted, the guarantee did come through. Certainly not a user-friendly experience, tho.

  3. I wonder how many of those third party bookings are flight crews? Every airline I’ve seen in the US uses a third party to book their rooms, so no points for flight crews.

  4. Like @Ever said, not uncommon to see lower rates from third party websites. Sometimes they’re the same, but often times they’re not. I’ve gotten a ~$500/nt room at an SPG property for less than $300/nt through a 3rd party website before. I’ll gladly forgo the points for that type of discount.

  5. If Hilton now would consider making their “Best Price Guarantee” or whatever they call it less idiotic and convoluted, this might actally make sense. Their guarantee doesnt apply if I’m not booking at least 24 hours in advance. Walking up to the front desk vs. booking some 3rd party website right in their lobby comes at a 100% surcharge sometimes…not cool.

  6. The Hilton BRG is an absolute joke. Where others match and then discount 20% or even 25% off your rate if you find a better price online, HHonors matches the rate and sends you a paltry $50 gift card 5 weeks after your departure date. Hyatt and SPG make filing a BRG pretty straightforward. HHonors has the paltriest, most toothless BRG in the industry.

  7. I hoped Lucky would mention how this can affect the Prestige 4th night free benefit. Hilton recently had a “Winter Sale” with a further discount if you’re a HH member. When I called Prestige to book the stay, I wasn’t able to get the member rate.

  8. The most vibrant hotel loyalty program out there right now just took it up a notch…

    I just took advantage of these discounts with bookings at Hilton Prague Old Town and Hilton Frankfurt City Center for mt TATL trip next month and think this is quite significant. I was even tempted to book a discounted “premium” room that went for about the same rate as an undiscounted standard room to increase my chance for getting an automatic suite upgrade in Europe…but decided to go and try my charm and magic instead 😉

  9. Update:

    Hyatt denied my price guarantee claim because of some automatic membership enrollment.

    I have a TripAdvisor account, that wasn’t automatic, I’ll have to look again.

  10. @Tommy Trash — That is indeed trash, like in “trash talking.”

    All you need to do is to compare Hilton room rates vs. SPG’s or Hyatt’s and you’ll get it. Hilton cannot afford to discount their BRG by 20%-25% because their rates are already almost in the basement compared to those of the other two chains, whose rates are over-inflated to start with, so that when discounted they land about where they should have been all along…

  11. If what makes a program “vibrant” is charging more than widespread AAA rates and calling it a discount…well then loyalty to said program truly is for the suckers

  12. It is a mindless non sequitur to mix contractual deals with a company’s internal promos or discounts. The company may be willing to give AAA a larger discount at lost for the potential to tap into their large electronic membership database, which help putting lots heads on beds all year around. It is a business decision. If you like the AAA rates, then pay the due to become one of their members and begin enjoying those rates, and make both AAA and Hilton winners. Did that confuse you even more?

  13. LOL sounds like someone is getting punchy from continually defending the indefensable. Time for another Asian relaxation “tour” it seems.

  14. To prove my point, I just did a quick search of Kayak rates and compared to Hilton’s rates for 33 Manhattan, NYC Hilton properties over the July 4th weekend. Kayak had the best price on 17 of the 33 properties (52%). One would think Hilton would offer its best rates to its highest tier elites (I am a HH Diamond)–however, that simply wasn’t the case. One would be a fool to blindly book Hilton from their website. And with the weakest BRG in the industry, Hilton is refusing to back up this silly marketing campaign with any substantial guarantee.

  15. Look, this is not that complicated at all, and it is not only Hilton that does it.

    It is really silly to expect a for-profit company to try to beat discounts offered by third party or “opaque” channels for that company’s own product or service! That would be akin to letting someone else set the price for your product, which is simply ridiculous since it is such a clear recipe for financial disaster and ruin. That is, obviously, why one gets no stay, night, or base point credit or, at some properties, no elite status recognition for bookings done through such third party or opaque channels. It is also why service companies, not just Hilton or all other major hotel chains but also airlines, have been working very hard to discourage such third party bookings, not only by their loyalty program members but by everyone else too, by offering, e.g., free wi-fi or discounts, or “lowest price guarantee”, for direct bookings.

    So, go ahead a book through Kayak, but only if you do not have status with Hilton or Hyatt or SPG, because while a Kayak booking would be cheaper, you would earn no elite-qualifying or redeemable points from that booking and no suite upgrades, which I have cleared more than 90% of the time in 4 years, with a value that easily dwarfs what I might gain by booking through a third party or opaque channel. The choice is clearly the consumers, but you simply can’t disparage for-profit service companies for not trying to beat discounts offered by poachers!!! It is plainly trash talking.

  16. The last time I was involved with the business aspects of a hotel, Expedia was taking 15%.

    Remember that many, if not most(?) of these chain hotels are franchises, not corporately owned. I often call the hotel directly and see if they’ll do a deal better than the website. Granted, I’m usually booking multiple rooms for multiple nights, so it’s in the hotel’s best interest to cut a deal.

  17. Are you kidding? Who is writing your ads, teenagers? The wording is meant to have the ” new vile” meaning. I thought Hilton was classy.
    I’ll be staying at places that don’t give in to lower cultural trends. Have some class!!!

  18. The click around fever is the most annoying commercial I have ever heard. I put my machine on mute the moment I hear it go on. It hurts my brain to listen to this crap.

  19. if you don’t want people buying your rooms through a third party then why sell the third party blocks of rooms?
    I booked a room in Orlando though a 3rd party and when I showed up at the Embassy suites, I was treated differently than other guests, no points and they had the audacity to tell me I didn’t have access to amenities? I told the clerk that I could cancel my third party reservations and book through him but he told me that they didn’t have any rooms available. Are you serious? If this is the way Hilton likes to do business then they can certainly do without mine. Next trip, different hotel chain and I made this known at my companies HQ so everyone knows how we are not a valued customer.

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