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Photo courtesy of Hilton Worldwide
Hilton Worldwide recently announced its largest marketing campaign in company history.
The "Stop Clicking Around" campaign aims to emphasize the benefits of booking direct by rewarding Hilton's HHonors members who do so with exclusive discounted rates and other benefits including digital check-in and free Wi-Fi.
But in attempting to squash the notion that the best hotel deals are found on third party websites, Hilton is also enlisting the help of travel agents.
In Tuesday's announcement, Hilton said the exclusive room rates and benefits will be available to its loyalty program members who book through brand websites, the HHonors mobile app, reservation call centers, preferred corporate travel partners and approved travel agents.
"Travel agents and corporate travelers continue to be an important part of our business as we focus on making travel easier and more rewarding through personalized experiences and granting guests more control over their stay," the company said in an emailed statement. "We are committed to our partnership with the travel professional and corporate buyer community alike."
Speaking to TravelPulse, Hilton's Vice President Of Global Marketing Andrew Flack reiterated the company's support for the travel agent community, and elaborated on who qualified as approved travel agents.
"We have always been 100 percent committed to the travel agent community that books through GDS booking systems," said Flack. "Typically that includes business travel agents. And we have for a long time now offered access to the same rates and the same set of HHonors-related benefits for bookings coming through those channels as through our own direct channels like Hilton.com and our call centers."
"The travel agent partners who have access to the HHonors discount will typically be accessing it through a GDS system."
READ MORE: How Hilton is Transforming the Airport Hotel
Booking Direct Vs. Third Party Websites
In addition to generating more direct bookings, the goal of Hilton's new campaign is to challenge a common misconception among travelers.
"Over quite the long period of time, the misconception has just generally built up that you will get a cheaper price for the same hotel room on some online travel sites," said Flack. "We became increasingly aware of that perception and so an important goal of the campaign is to make sure customers are fully educated on what the reality is around that so they're making smart choices."
"This is an educational exercise in large parts," said Flack.
For those HHonors members willing to book direct, Hilton promises to offer the best available rate.
"What we're offering is an everyday discount of the standard room rate if you join HHonors and book direct. That discount will vary typically according to how far before the day of arrival are you making that booking," added Flack. "So, the earlier you're making that booking, you can expect to see a greater level of discount and the discount range is up to 10 percent."
On top of room savings and convenient features like Digital Key, booking direct will set up Hilton's loyalty program members to potentially cash in down the road.
The company calculated that more than 1.6 million free nights went unearned in 2015 because of hotel bookings made on third party websites.
A Maryland native and wanderer who has lived across the U.S. from North Carolina to SoCal, Patrick Clarke graduated from Towson...
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