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Exclusive from Hilton: “Gaining insight into our online customers is leading our offer strategy”

Stevie Stevenson, Director of Offer Strategy at Hilton, opens up about how hotels can create revenue-driving offers that drive more direct business.

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Exclusive from Hilton: “Gaining insight into our online customers is leading our offer strategy”

The Direct Booking Summit: Miami 2019 will welcome the hotelier community in Loews Miami Beach Hotel on October 22-23, 2019.

Today, we spoke to Stevie Stevenson, Director of Offer Strategy at Hilton about how hotels can create revenue-driving offers and drive more direct business.

At the upcoming Summit, Stevie will share insights in the interactive session Bridge the knowledge gap: Help your teams work smarter together. Find out more about her talk and check the agenda here.

Stevie Stevenson | Director of Offer Strategy | Hilton

What is the difference between offers and promotions?

Promotions are often created to drive buzz around the Hilton brand. Offers are designed to be used at any point in time - they’re practically evergreen. Our brand and marketing teams often leverage existing offers as a selling point for their promotions.

For example, if we wanted to drive more summer bookings, we could advertise our existing Family Fun offer package in a summer promotion rather than creating something completely new. Minimizing the number of offers on the shelf helps us prevent decision fatigue for our customers.

How can hotels create offers that drive more direct business?

To create conversion-driving offers at the Hilton, we try to understand what kinds of offers will have the greatest commercial impact on the business. These offers can then be tailored to an individual brand’s needs by our marketing teams.

To create an offer that works for your hotel, you have got to stop thinking about what you want (e.g. ‘we want to drive more direct bookings’) and start thinking about what your customers want. Put your guests at the heart of your offer strategy.

Research is important. We conduct qualitative and quantitative research to better understand our customers’ values, travel preferences, booking behavior and much more. Competitive research is also a good way for us to stay on top of the offers run by other hotels. As well as this, we look beyond hotels to offer strategies of such eCommerce giants as Amazon and Target. Gaining more insight into our online customers and figuring out how can we provide a better shopping experience online is at the forefront of our offer strategy for the next few years.

Do you also pay attention to OTA offer strategies?

We keep an eye on how they collectively and individually differentiate themselves in terms of the online shopping experience. We look at their websites to inform our own direct booking strategies. At the end of the day, our goal is to drive direct business.

What role do offers play in a direct booking strategy?

We want to provide our direct bookers with exclusive benefits - that is also something we’re taking into account when developing our offers. We have to strongly consider all our OTA agreements, but we’ve definitely taken a stance on offers that reward Hilton’s direct bookers.

How does Hilton ensure that its offers are meeting strategic objectives?

We have different types of offers at the hotel, brand and enterprise level. There are multiple dimensions for offers, from hotel to brand and strategic levels. Hotel-level offers are typically managed by a specific hotel based on their needs. My team gets involved at a brand or multi-brand level that speaks to Hilton’s target consumer groups. We determine what these offers look like based on what’s available at our hotels’ properties and what our business needs are. Finally, there is an enterprise level, where my team develops various performance-enhancing offers that support an entire portfolio across the Americas - or globally.

We don’t dictate offers at each individual property. Instead, we provide guidance. For example, if a hotel wants to drive more occupancy for certain dates, they might want an offer to drive more demand, such as a discount or a special rate. This way, all Hilton’s hotels can manage their offers as they see fit, allowing them to do what’s right for their property.

How do you measure the success of offer performance?

It depends on the offer’s objective. If its purpose is to capture new audiences, then we look both at the conversion rate and customer metrics to better understand these guests. We can also be looking at its commercial performance, and whether we’re driving more demand through this offer or OTAs.

Offer strategy often involves multiple stakeholders. How do you ensure your teams are aligned?

Meet in person. In a digital age, it can be really tricky. But connecting with people you work with on a personal level can help you build trust with your colleagues, partners and stakeholders. It can also drive innovation for your business and resolve issues faster.

What can the Summit’s attendees expect to learn from you on 22 October in Miami?

I can give you a hint - there will be audience participation! In a room filled with hoteliers, we can all be competitors, but we’re actually dealing with the same challenges, such as siloed teams and duct-taped back-end systems. That’s all while facing the distribution giants who have all the tools and technologies they need to continuously optimize guest experiences.

I want to bring hoteliers together to discuss their challenges and make sure they take away practical tips on how to tackle departmental silos and drive their business forward. It will be like a big therapy session - one that the hotelier community really needs!

Join us on 22-23 October at the Direct Booking Summit in Miami to learn more from Google Travel, Hilton, AccorHotels, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, MGM, Hard Rock International and other key industry players.

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About The Author

Alisa is Triptease's brand guardian. She speaks four languages and uses them to interview thought leaders and write articles for the industry.

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