Commentary

John, Yoko -- And Hilton?

A 100-year-old hotel company you might have heard of — Hilton — is aiming to keep itself fresh and contemporary by both looking to its heritage and working to be a progressive force in a world it helped define  -- all the while making sure its messages are good for business. 

Among the ways it is doing that is with the video campaign “Room 702,” which commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Bed-in For Peace staged by John Lennon and Yoko Ono in Room 702 at the Hilton Amsterdam in 1969. 

While other properties had turned the pop cultural icons away in fear of controversy, Hilton welcomed them and the media to their suite, says the company, in line with Conrad Hilton’s belief in “filling the earth with the light and warmth of hospitality.”

Katie Fallon, global head of corporate affairs, said the Bed-In demonstrates how small acts of hospitality can have a tremendous impact. 

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The “Room 702” videos build on the idea of the intersection of Hilton’s entrepreneurial culture and sustainability work. They tell stories that celebrate the communities that Hilton serves and the diverse background of team members -- all under the banner of The Hilton Effect.

So far, two individuals have been the subject of videos. There’s Serby Castro, a suite attendant at an Embassy Suites by Hilton in Orlando, who leads a soap-recycling initiative with Clean the World, a nonprofit. Ismaeil Dawod is a refugee who started his Hilton career in Frankfurt, now works with other refugees, and is getting a full scholarship from Hilton to a top hospitality university. 

That’s all very nice, but what is the impact of these stories on marketing the brand? Fallon said that the Hilton Effect is not only about doing good but is good business. She said recent studies found a third of guests actively seek information about social, environmental and ethnical considerations prior to booking. Of those, 60% conduct additional research if the information is not readily accessible. More, a full 44% of travelers under 25 actively research these factors.

The hope, said Fallon, is to use these Room 702 stories and others to start a dialogue with the next generation of travelers tuned in to companies that aim to do good.

From here, said Fallon, Hilton will move on with building its image as a force for good. That includes its 2030 Travel With Purpose goals, among which are cutting its environmental impact in half by sending zero soap to landfills and doubling the company’s social impact investments. 

It’s an age-old debate: Does doing good mean good business? If Hilton really has made doing good a focus and managed to survive and thrive for a century, that’s a pretty good argument the answer is yes.

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