Throughout the past decade, the number of Chinese citizens traveling abroad has gone from zero to 55 million.
That’s quite a jump.
For travel brands such as Hilton Hotels & Resorts, these Chinese travelers are an important market.
To establish itself as a credible, welcoming hotel chain to these travelers, Hilton launched Hilton Huanying (“welcome” in Chinese), a campaign to provide an authentic and friendly welcome to its Chinese guests around the world.
To celebrate the successful program’s first anniversary, Hilton partnered with Vivienne Tam, an internationally known fashion designer. For its work in creating a successful campaign with a celebrity partner, Hilton earned first place in the Best Use of a Celebrity or Personality category of PR Daily’s 2012 Media Relations Awards.
Finding the right partner
The goal of Hilton Huanying was to establish Hilton Hotels & Resorts as the perfect hotel for Chinese citizens traveling abroad. To seamlessly merge China’s Eastern culture with that of the West, Hilton partnered with Vivienne Tam, a Chinese-born, Hong Kong-raised fashion designer known around the globe. Tam’s bicultural upbringing inspired her signature East-meets-West style, making her a perfect partner for Hilton Huanying.
Tam created a limited-edition slipper on behalf of the hotel that was exclusive to Hilton guests and customers of HiltonHome.com, Hilton’s retail site. Members of Hilton’s HHonors program and social media sites received a special discount.
The slipper reflected the designer’s—and the campaign’s—East-meets-West style. The Water Dragon design celebrates China’s year of the dragon, and the blue fabric represents Hilton’s signature brand color.
To launch the anniversary celebration and unveil the slipper, Hilton arranged a press conference at its Shanghai hotel and hosted a global launch event in New York City’s fashion district. Hilton also created an official brand channel on Sina Weibo, China’s leading social network, with a sweepstakes. For hotel guests, a segment promoting the slipper ran on the hotel’s in-room television channel.
Slippers achieve success
To say the campaign was successful would be an understatement. Bookings by Chinese guests increased 129 percent between January and July of 2012, compared to the same period in 2011. Chinese enrollment in the Hilton HHonors program increased 81 percent.
The limited supply of the slipper on HiltonHome.com sold out in less than 24 hours, and the discount code provided to Hilton HHonors members and social media followers produced more than $100,000 in sales in 14 days. This was a 20 percent increase in revenue for the site. Hilton’s Sina Weibo presence also grew 67 percent.
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