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Hilton Gives Travelers What They Need Before They Need It

The Hilton app allows Honors Members to check in and to pick a specific room similar to the way air travelers chose their seat on a plane. A day before arrival, members get a reminder email telling them it's time to pick a room. The hotel visitor gets information on floor plans and available rooms, but the plan to add more details around the map should provide information on views too.

The app also allows hotel guests to order meals, extra pillows, blankets, and towels when they check in, but before they arrive. While app downloads continue to grow, the company doesn't do enough to market the features, admits Dustin Bomar, VP of digital acquisition at Hilton, although the hotel chain has seen success with Google Hotel Ads.

Bomar runs paid search, affiliate programs, and display advertising for about 4,250 hotels in 93 countries. The goal to stay one step ahead of the needs of its guests means continually adding features to its app and engaging online with travelers at the perfect moment.

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Google's bid-based platform allows Hilton to bid up or down depending on the vacancy rate. "We work with a software company that helps us manage the bids through rules, so it's not as automated as I would like, but we're working on it," he said. "It doesn't tie into our revenue management system, which provides occupancy data."

Stopping a bid on Hotel Ads requires knowing the number of the remaining rooms and the rate in which the rooms with rent. For travelers, searching for a hotel typically means visiting a variety of sites to compare rates, photos, reviews, availability, and more. They expect this information at their fingertips to help guide decisions and let them immediately book the hotel once they decide.

For Hilton, the goal to drive more efficient hotel bookings globally across all devices also means knowing when travelers need a room, so Hilton implemented Google Hotel Ads to drive qualified leads on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. The detailed hotel-level bids based on business needs within each market meant using bid adjustments to optimize performance based on device type, user country, and Google sites.

All Hilton properties have opted in to Google Hotel Ads. Conversion rate improve by 45%, and the ads drove 12% overall stronger return on investments. "The cost per click is cheaper compared with other channels, so less CPCs and a strong conversion rate means the ROI will be a bit higher. It's been a good performer. There's decent volume coming through, and it's an important piece of the overall digital distribution mix."

No cross-device targeting and tracking, yet, but it's something Hilton is working on, Bomar said. It means paying close attention to consumer privacy.

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