Hilton Marketer on Travel Industry Sustainability | Marketing

The motivation behind travel has changed, says Ivy Esquero, director of integrated marketing, sales and product activation at Hilton Hotels.

Before the inauguration Spikes Asia Academya three-day immersive bootcamp (four hours/day September 14-16, 2022) called The followinglaunched by Spikes Asia, the region’s oldest and most prestigious award for creative advertising, the Hilton marketer shares her ideas and approaches the hotel has used to pivot with new creative strategies and attract customers at the height of the pandemic.

Esquero talks to Asia-Pacific Campaign on the need to perpetuate the industry “because nothing will be like before”.

Ivy Esquero, Hilton Hotels

Tell us about your scope of work at Hilton.

I lead brand and audience strategy for Hilton in Asia Pacific. I am responsible for identifying opportunities to deepen relationships with Hilton customers and prospects, increase the effectiveness and impact of marketing activities, and develop a testing and learning program around the platforms. , formats and content.

At next month’s Spikes Academy event, you’ll talk about how brands can develop a strategy for the future based on customer needs. Explain what to expect from the session.

The theme is ‘What’s Next’. It will be fun to explore how the metaverse can transform the travel industry. There are fantastic new and immersive ways brands and consumers are starting to engage, and I want the current generation of creative teams to start thinking about how travel and hospitality brands can embrace the metaverse to improve their offerings.

Basically, I want brands to think about future-proof travel marketing: think about where consumers are going and what their needs are? How are these needs changing as technology evolves and what are some other exciting ways to get more experiences from technology.

Will the metaverse change the future of travel marketing?

Well, there’s a lot of potential for brands in the metaverse when we get to wider adoption. The possibility of having more fun with the brand, for example by gamifying interactions. You can be creative and visceral about how you present yourself when the interaction is more two-way. Creating anticipation for travel and extending your enjoyment, through virtual communities and spaces, could be beneficial for brands and consumers.

The hospitality industry has learned the hard way that things can go wrong quickly and revenue can dry up in a second. What are your marketing tips for sustaining the industry?

Covid may have confined many people to their homes, but research suggests those limitations haven’t stopped people from wanting to travel. That said, we have to accept that the pandemic has changed consumer behavior for good. Travel is now a more inclusive affair. Local, culturally engaged and helpful travel is the key deciding factor when it comes to pinning down a destination. The environment and sustainability are also important considerations when people are focusing on a travel plan.

After being grounded for a long time, people are ready to step out of their comfort zone and try new experiences. As a marketer, it’s really important to respond to these changing customer trends with a holistic, integrated action plan and be present across all platforms and channels that customers engage with.

Tell us about the strategies Hilton relied on to meet challenges at the height of the pandemic.

We weathered the storm by staying true to our brand purpose, focusing on our customers, and finding meaningful and authentic ways to engage. A lot of it was trying to reintroduce us in a way that people didn’t know about. For example, we’re one of the largest restaurateurs in APAC with nearly 1,000 restaurants in Asia Pacific – a lot of people don’t know that. We have geared our marketing efforts towards driving F&B traffic.

During the peak, the countryside feeling shifted from faraway and exotic travel to hyperlocal tendencies. We have seen an increase in the number of domestic customers who have never contacted us before. We started highlighting local attractions in our backyard.

The vineyards of France, a visit to the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon is anything but a beautiful dream, but let’s say, if you’re in Perth or Sydney and can’t travel with Covid restrictions, check out the vineyards of your city. We had a similar marketing strategy across APAC: tickle the wanderlust without necessarily pushing people out of their comfort zone. Treat yourself, but stay safe and this strategy has really helped us grow.

Loyalty is royalty – the launch of the Hilton Honors American Express Card and Hilton Honors American Express Premium Card co-brands in Japan has been a great benefit to our guests and reinforced our commitment to providing an exceptional guest experience even in uncertain times. These cards are designed for frequent and occasional travellers, whether they are looking for a short break, a change of scenery close to home or saving for a major international trip, once they feel that they safe for their health – we continued to inspire and inspire wanderlust.

Travel is on the road to recovery, but some Asian markets like Hong Kong and China are still far behind. List three post-pandemic travel marketing trends with this in mind.

1) Hyperlocal will still be great. Different markets have a different pace of recovery. Hong Kong and China are emerging from certain levels of containment. Travel in Japan is still largely domestic. The focus will continue to be on experiences and destinations that are close to home or easy to get to.

2) Commercialization of leisure. We’re seeing across Asia Pacific that people aren’t necessarily going back to old business travel, but are opting for a mix of business and leisure. Travel is still a big deal with changing Covid requirements in many countries. Business travelers will extend their trips to maximize travel time and opportunities for family fun.

3) First party consumer data. The key will be customization. I think that has a lot of implications for creatives and it’s something that brands are starting to pay a lot more attention to. In my opinion, this will speed up one-on-one communications with customers and also make them want to share more with brands.


The interview has been condensed for length and clarity.

About Jonathan J. Kramer

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