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From the 10th Annual Shorty Awards

Hampton by Hilton Uses Comedy to Connect With “Real” Travelers and Break The Aspirational Mold

Entered in Humor

About this entry

Travel isn't always glamorous, yet many brands feed consumers aspirational visions of lounging on the beach, hoping to turn these idealistic experiences into bookings. The truth? 71% of people prefer ads that reflect their actual lifestyle. With this in mind, Hampton by Hilton kick-started a new narrative around the "real" reasons people travel—or what they called "obli-cations" (i.e., obligatory vacations). Through research, the brand found that the top three obli-cations were: visiting family, kids extracurriculars (e.g. away games/college visits) and business travel.

To prevent "real travel" moments from taking a negative turn (i.e., delayed flights/cranky passengers), Hampton enlisted comedy to keep things light. Humor, according to research, could create an emotional appeal that could bridge Hampton's target audiences. Hampton joined forces with the famed comedy group The Second City Works (SC) to inject relatable humor into real travel situations – citing Hampton hotels nationwide as a natural home-base for "obli-cations."

Objective 1: Secure a 5% increase in consideration among corporate travelers and 3% among leisure travelers by end of year (beginning from campaign launch). As well as 3% overall band revenue increase as compared to same period 2016.

Objective 2: Secure 1.5 million impressions for Facebook Live (FBL) event & surpass the 2016 FBL benchmark by 50%

Objective 3: Secure five/hard to find "down-to-earth" influencers to produce 100 original pieces of content, 3.5MM impressions in five months

Why does this entry deserve to win?

1. Create program around new narrative that would differentiate Hampton from the pack, i.e., the anti-aspirational travel brand; the home of real travelers

2. Enlist strategic partner to reach brand's diverse audience and to ensure positive dialogue through humor

3. Identify and own top real travel moments (i.e., "obli-cations"); prioritize by key booking periods (e.g., business, college visits, football, holidays)

4. Use top performing platforms and tools to reach audiences with the message (i.e., video and live social media)

Execution:

The partnership kicked off with a live event on the #1 platform used by travelers: Facebook. In just a week, the event had generated 3.5MM impressions and beat the brand's video views record by 110%. Additionally, the brand amplified SC's video content through influencers who also shared their own real travel experiences, along with traditional and controlled media reaching 422MM travelers and securing a YOY increase in revenue of 8%.

Second City Partnership: With a topic like obligated travel, it was crucial to identify a partner that could ignite the #RealTravel dialogue in a positive way. SC brought wide content capabilities and name recognition (having produced the most Saturday Night Live cast members). For maximum impact, we focused on video as a main tool due to its ability to be repurposed across platforms, its longer shelf life and the fact that people spend 3x more watching a live video on FB. We leveraged video in two ways:

1. Facebook Live: Headlined by SC improv masters, the online event kicked off the campaign, introducing consumers to the Real Travel and "obli-cation" concept and engaging followers with incentives.

2. Video Series: Also in partnership with The Second City, the three-part video series reached 2.3MM with funny and relatable "real travel" moments tied to seasonal travel periods: college football's "Rivals", business travel's Road Warrior and holiday travel's "Cool Aunt."

Original memes/GIFs depicting relatable travel scenarios, completed the suite of social media content for influencer/brand promotion around the #RealTravel conversation.

Real Travel Influencer Team: To amplify the Second City videos and #RealTravel conversation, Hampton enlisted nine influencers to share their real travel experiences via social media. The brand identified a mix of influencers who traveled for different "obli-cations" and fit across the brand's diverse demographics. The influencers collectively generated 315 pieces of original content and more than 7.6MM impressions.

The Real Travel Narrative: Controlled media tools were used to increase visibility for the real travel message, starting with a USA Today partnership. The brand leveraged the publication's broad audience and reputable travel news content with a series of promoted articles that also embedded the SC videos, banners and links. The native content campaign reached 4.2MM impressions and drove more than 102K pageviews with nearly 1,700 link clicks showing that readers found the content compelling (of these, 400 clicks went to Hampton.com).

Results

Objective 1: Secure a 5% increase in consideration among corporate travelers and 3% among leisure travelers by end of year (beginning from campaign launch). As well as 3% overall band revenue increase as compared to same period 2016.

o Surpassed consideration goal among corporate travelers (by almost triple with 14%), met goal amongst leisure travelers and almost tripled the YOY increase in revenue with 8%.

Objective 2: Secure 1.5 million impressions for FBL event & surpass the 2016 FBL benchmark by 50%

o Surpassed impressions goal by 133% with 3.5MM, breaking the 2016 brand record by 110%

Objective 3: Secure five/hard to find "down-to-earth" influencers to produce 100 original pieces of content, 3.5MM impressions in five months

o Through smart negotiations, exceeded goal twofold, with nine influencers, 315 pieces of original content (215% above goal) and 7.6MM impressions.

Produced by

rbb Communications, Hampton by Hilton

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About the Shorty Awards

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The regular entry deadline for the shorty social good awards is august 29th, 2018