Once upon a time, the Hilton was associated with glamour, wealth and class – after all, it’s the dynasty that birthed Paris Hilton. However, in the last five years, the hotel chain has seen a decline in popularity partly thanks to the numerous holiday deals it became associated with, thus diluting its exclusivity. Now those days of luxury are gone and if you were to ask anyone under the age of 30 what they thought about the chain they would probably scrunch their nose in disgust – it’s bland, boring and tragically uncool.
And that hit the Hilton hard. Most of their customers are drawn in by the value-for-money deals you often find on Wowcher or Secret Escapes as opposed to actually seeking out a night at the hotel. As a result, it’s not helped the brands hierarchy in the cool stakes, and it’s not just its image that suffered a blow; as a result of the pandemic, Hilton Worldwide Holdings reported a 51.6% decrease in revenue in 2020 compared to the previous year. It might be easy to just blame Covid, but its main competitor Marriott International reported over double the revenue of Hilton in 2020 and that’s just unacceptable. So now the hospitality brand is undergoing a marketing makeover and it seems to be paying off. Its battleground of choice? TikTok.
Realising that the platform is famous for its short-form videos is the best way of engaging and recruiting Gen Z and Millennial customers, the hotel brand has invested in videos and campaigns that utilise some of the platforms hottest young talent. This includes the likes of Ace Musa and Niall Gray, who’ve created sponsored videos that capitalise on the pair’s comedic style and flair for entertainment. Both videos feature themselves having a blast in different parts of the hotel, essentially making a shorter, more fun version of a typical hotel tour. But instead of being long, drawn-out and focusing on the details, it’s quick, snappy and straight to the point – everything a Gen Z consumer loves. Other TikTokers taking part in #HowDoYouHilton include Sherice Banton, Ehiz, and India from ind.i.bb, the latter of whom added in a personal touch by making the video about how going to a hotel has changed for her since recovering from an eating disorder.
And it seems to be working. While Hilton have not yet released their revenue figures for 2021 and of course they’re not going to fully realise the effects of these campaigns until 2022, we can already see how many likes and comments these videos are getting (hundreds of thousands) and generally how well these TikTokers’ followers are engaging with the videos. It’s also led to a pyramid of content, with other users copying the format and visiting and recording themselves at Hilton hotels even though they’re not paid to do so, thus making the hotel a trend across the platform.
The renovation has begun and it’s essential. If a brand wants to maintain its influence and power then it must be willing to adapt its image for the next generation and remain on top of and up to date on all the latest trends. Those that do have a future, and through TikTok the Hilton are making a very clear statement: they are here to stay.
By Lucinda Diamond, deputy editor of CORQ. Picture credit: Ehiz via Instagram