Hilton lifts blackouts on HHonors

The Hilton Hotel has expanded its no blackout dates policy to all members of its HHonors loyalty program.

Previously, the offer was only available to Diamond and Gold VIP members. Starting February 1, all 8 million active members of HHonors can redeem their points any night at any Hilton hotel as long as a standard room is available.

“It serves the function of giving customers the maximum flexibility in how they can earn and redeem the [loyalty program] currency,” said Adam Burke, SVP of customer loyalty for the Hilton Hotels Corporation. “We’ve always been one of the most flexible companies in how terms of how to earn currency. Now, on the redemption side, it’s all about ease.

“It’s an opportunity for us to significantly increase our market share and preference,” he continued. “When we looked at the research, it became clear that, by extending the program, we could expect a significant share of preference increase.”

The company is rolling out an extensive marketing campaign for the offer, deploying targeted e-mails, direct mail and online advertising in a direct marketing approach, aided by database provider of record Epsilon and direct marketing agency Brierley+Partners. Hilton is also launching print, Web and some airport-based ads in a $6.5 million mass media push.

The campaign features creative by Landor Associates, which assisted Hilton with a visual identity review last year.

“We were trying to do something that better reflected the personality of the program,” said Burke. “HHonors focuses on being flexible and personalized and on making things very transparent to the customer. We wanted the visual identity to reflect clarity and transparency.”

Currently, 20%-25% of HHonors members hail from outside the US. Burke said he expects that number to increase as Hilton makes a larger investment in its international holdings. Other targeted marketing segments include female business travelers and other demographics that are newer to business travel. HHonors members make up 40% of the occupancy in Hilton hotels.

Hilton operates more than 2,900 hotels, including Doubletree, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites and The Waldorf-Astoria Collection.

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