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Battle of the Hotels
By: Janet Kalandranis
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Where to stay: a Hilton or a Starwood hotel? Five years ago, this decision would have been made based on a recommendation from a friend over lunch. Both brands are well known and, really, the only thing to consider was logistics (price, location, and, of course, bed comfort). Now these two brands, both still respected and well known, are fighting in the digital world to have the highest quality of presence and reach customers in a very new way. And that conversation over lunch is now saved for more important topics.

Both hotel brands clearly value the importance of a digital presence and not only understand the impact of this but are taking steps to create the right strategy. Hilton specifically is using Twitter with one goal in mind — providing customers with valuable information that they can’t get anywhere else. It’s a little helpful, a little informative, and a whole lot of fun. Customers are engaged as followers and understand that being connected with Hilton means they will receive all the tidbits they need without having to go to alternate locations. Hilton has allowed its followers to be “in the know.” And who doesn’t want that?

And talk about easy. Hilton’s mobile site and app, although identical, make it simple for customers. Find a hotel, book a reservation, or become a Hilton HHonors Member. Simplicity is great for brands, especially in an industry where many times there is too much information.

Starwood is Hilton’s fraternal twin. It's still a great brand, but undefined in some of their digital properties. Facebook is used as a promotional tool and has yet to engage its customers to any extent. Starwood is using Twitter to handle customer service questions and concerns, and while interactive and timely, there’s something lost in the relationship that could be built. And if customers can’t access the Starwood site on their mobile device, the brand is missing a valuable opportunity for engagement.

The question lies in whether these two very different digital strategies are affecting brand engagement. The answer is yes — consumers are used to access at their fingertips and information when they need it. Good job, Hilton.

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About the Author
Janet Kalandranis is here to give you all the little brand thoughts that run through her head with a little dash of spice. Find her online here.
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