What’s more hospitable than a cookie? What do you welcome guests with or bring to hosts? Cookies! So it shouldn’t be surprising that one hotel brand -- DoubleTree by Hilton -- has associated itself with its signature chocolate-chip cookie for almost 50 years. Cookies have been given to every guest checking in for most of those years (originally it was a “turndown” cookie; now it’s a warm cookie at the front desk.).
For guests, the cookie “represents the feeling of home and familiarity from the moment they walk through the door and every moment of their stay,” according to Shawn McAteer, brand leader.
And in recent cookie news, DoubleTree took the occasion of National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (Aug. 4) to introduce an allergy-friendly version, created by Partake Foods, an allergy-friendly food company. According to Doubletree, more than 32 million people in the U.S. are affected by food allergies, and others have intolerances or dietary preferences. The new cookie is gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, and free of the top nine allergens.
The DoubleTree cookie is used prominently in marketing programs. In 2022, to engage and excite fans on National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, the company launched a DoubleTree by Hilton Doodle Contest, which encouraged consumers to doodle a design for the DoubleTree cookie sleeve in which the cookie is served to guests.
The winning design has since appeared on the cookie sleeves in more than 350 DoubleTree by Hilton hotels in the U.S., and the winner received one million Hilton Honors Points, five free nights at any DoubleTree Hilton hotel around the world, a $1,000 Delta Airlines gift card and free DoubleTree by Hilton chocolate chip cookies for a year.
And in a public relations coup in 2022, the cookie was the first food to be baked in space on the International Space Station.
During the pandemic, when everyone was stuck at home and unable to travel, the brand shared the recipe for the cookie for the first time so potential guests could recreate the treat at home when travel was paused. To date, the recipe is the most-visited story on Stories From Hilton, the company’s online newsroom.
Consumers frequently share their love for the signature chocolate chip cookie on social media, according to McAteer, including popular music artists like Lupe Fiasco (an American rapper), who tweeted that DoubleTree’s chocolate chip cookies are his favorite.
To encourage consumer engagement and trial for the new cookie, an allergy-friendly consumer cookie pop-up activation event at DoubleTree by Hilton New York Times Square South took place with an appearance from Sesame Street’s costumed Cookie Monster.
Since the allergy-friendly option was introduced, said McAteer, the company has seen positive social media posts across Hilton’s channels on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. One comment in reference to the new cookie: “Best news ever....as I make my DoubleTree reservation.”
Do consumers actually book a hotel because of a cookie? Probably not. But being associated with a warm, sweet goodie can never be a bad thing for a hospitality brand.