The Gloves Are Off: Big Brands Throwing Direct Booking Punches

March 7, 2016 • By

image1

Hotel industry giants have had enough. Like you, they appear to be sick of the big commissions, the declining customer loyalty and the loss of revenue to OTAs.

But, instead of grumbling under their breaths, two big brands have been publicly investing their marketing dollars in mass media campaigns to drive the message: Book with us, not with them.


Hilton Unveils Largest Campaign Ever to Win Back Market Share

The global audience first got a glimpse of Hilton’s monumental marketing campaign during the February 15 Grammy’s broadcast. Entitled “Stop Clicking Around, the campaign showcases travel consumers trolling their phones in a futile search for the best travel deals to the tune of Rolling Stone’s “Satisfaction.”

The big call to action? Get the lowest prices and biggest value online at Hilton.com. 

This is Hilton’s latest calculated move to win back direct bookings. Last year, Hilton started offering exclusive HHonors deals — up to 10 percent off published rates — but only at certain destinations, properties and brands. They negotiated with OTAs and wrangled for lower commissions, the elimination of OTAs’ last room availability and the opportunity to offer Hilton’s most loyal guests with preferential pricing.

Now with the launch of their new campaign, Hilton can extend these exclusive discounts for HHonors members to about 98 percent of their entire worldwide portfolio. Marked as the biggest campaign the company has launched in its 97-year history, this shows that Hilton is pulling out all the stops to win back market share.

In addition to offering the lowest prices online, Hilton’s campaign is aiming to show consumers that they could have more of a personalized experience and value by booking directly with Hilton. They’re strongly pushing their Hilton HHonors program, where members can earn points that will go towards free Wifi, complimentary room nights, digital room keys and the opportunity to select their room ahead of check-in.


Marriott Targets Millenials With Lighthearted Youtube Campaign

Similar to Hilton, Marriott last year negotiated with OTAs to allow them to offer Marriott Rewards members with a best rate guarantee. With this BRG, Marriott states that if a Marriott Rewards member finds a lower rate someplace else, they’ll then match the rate and offer an additional 25 percent discount. They also are encouraging travelers to sign up as Marriott Rewards members to get perks like complimentary Wifi, mobile check-in and the opportunity to earn points for free roomnights.

To show travelers the virtues of booking direct, Marriott recruited the talents of popular YouTube star and comedian Grace Helbig in a digital campaign called “#itpaystobookdirect.” Playing on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, the campaign’s six videos show Helbig in a variety of humorous situations where she shows people that it makes more sense to book direct. Since its launch, the campaign has garnered more than 8 million views on YouTube and showed the brand’s desire to increase direct bookings and invigorate its stodgy image.

With both Hilton and Marriott investing big talent and big media placements, its clear the companies are getting bolder and bolder in their attempts to drive more direct bookings and take back market share from OTAs. Plus, they’re using a combination of preferred rates and personal, privileged perks to do it. We’re excited to see what other creative campaigns hotel brands come up with and are looking forward to helping all of our partners win back bookings along the way!

About Tambourine

Tambourine uses technology and creativity to increase revenue for hotels and destinations worldwide. The firm, now in its 33rd year, is located in New York City and Fort Lauderdale. Please visit: www.Tambourine.com