Between 2007 and 2011, I got to be half professional travel writer, half hotelier (of sorts).
I worked first as an in-house copywriter for Hilton Worldwide, and then as a copywriter for the boutique WPP agency Brierley & Partners — a major client of which is Hilton. Much of this work focused on the first-of-its-kind Hilton HHonors loyalty program, which caters to all 10 hotel brands within the Hilton portfolio (from Waldorf Astoria to Hampton Inn).
The biggest challenge spanning my time in-house and on the agency side was the complete rebranding of the Hilton HHonors program, including revamping the visual identity and recrafting the brand voice. Hilton HHonors touches all of Hilton Worldwide’s brands, so establishing the right tone and feel was a more complex task than more singular projects.
Establishing the new look and voice affected all digital and printed materials of course. Hilton HHonors emails are sent to all 30 million members each month, so this was a major opportunity to introduce and familiarize loyal members with the new style.
Members don’t all receive the same e-newsletter, though. Deciding which offers are presented to which members is dependent entirely on personal profiles. Regardless, there were some months when I got to write all the communications that Hilton was promoting.
The nature of this highly targeted messaging, which includes offers from properties spanning all six habitable continents, ensured that creating these email messages was always a tremendous opportunity to learn about quaint towns, international metropolises, and exotic locales that I still hope to visit someday.
After the website overhaul and digital asset revamp, the next biggest facet of the rebranding project was the printed member materials, which included some rather elaborate welcome packages designed in Brierley’s in-house production studio.
Loyalty programs reward . . . loyalty. Hilton accomplished this by thanking its most engaged guests in clever, refreshing ways, all while spurring others to accrue higher status too. Materials like these that specifically cater to Diamond, Gold, or Silver VIP members therefore have two jobs: explicate the program and its many benefits, and establish a certain allure that inspires recipients to want to enjoy experiences at Hilton properties around the world.
Here’s a smaller-scale example of how the HHonors program is designed to inspire travel, and how the new design, photography, typography, voice, and tone all started to come together.
Once an almost forgotten facet of the program, the “Point Stretcher” feature started to gain prominence as a highly effective way to inspire members to act (i.e., book stays).