The power of the experiential reward


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In “HHonored Guests” in the current issue of COLLOQUY, Jeff Diskin talks about Hilton Worldwide’s initiatives to “recalibrate what it means to be part of a loyalty program.” Jeff knows of which he speaks, of course–he’s Senior Vice President—Global Customer Marketing at Hilton.

In that article, Diskin gave COLLOQUY readers a first look at Hilton’s rebranding of its HHonors frequent-guest program, launched last week with a considerable marketing effort. I like the rebranding for a couple of reasons. One, its look is elegant, even peaceful. What more do you want from travel–even as a business traveler? Time away, relaxation, experience. And there’s the core of the rebranding–and the core of my appreciation of the initiative. Experience.

It’s a shift of emphasis from what you earn (points/currency) and what you can pragmatically attain (a free night, etc.) to what you can live. Experience. Attaining something that you wouldn’t otherwise attain without the assistance of a brand recognizing its important relationship with you. Specifically, the rebranding emphasizes “Hilton HHonors, a World of Experiences Worth Sharing.” And those last two words are important, too, as I’ll note in a moment.

“We felt the opportunity was to connect with the possibilities that travel enables,” Disken tells me, “particularly in the context of a loyalty program. . . . There were new truths that came out of this for us. The loyalty program is about us being loyal to the traveler, not just about the traveler being loyal to us. It’s about us providing the best we have for out best customers, it’s about us looking to enable and facilitate experiences that people might not otherwise have access to or may not be taking advantage of.”

This is, in a sense, a more elegant iteration of the advertising maxim–you aren’t selling features; you’re selling results. “I juxtapose this with how we marketed the program in the past–Hilton HHonors Points and Miles; Hilton HHonors No Blackouts–and they were all true, but they didn’t necessairly connect withwhat you could do with them. There will be some places where we’ll be talking promotions or Points and Miles or No Blackout dates, but the primary messaging will always be around these experiences that we’re enabling. That’s the connective tissue.”

The lessons I like from the campaign are these:

1) Depicting the results of program participation increases the customers’ perception of the value proposition.
2) Experiential rewards are, of course, important in a program, while not forgetting practical rewards, as well. Envision what experiences you can deliver to your loyalists either through special access to your brand or rewards arranged with your partners or third-party providers.
3) The experience is made even more valuable with the emphasis on sharing–a further extension of the value proposition. Spending time with loved ones, for instance, and entertaining your social network with stories and photos. As for that latter point, and in fact an upcoming website design will open up opportunities for such exchanges. “In the sharing vernacular–sharing their photography from their vacations with us and with other members,” Diskin says.

One example is an ad headlined “Make Up for Lost Time by Losing Track of It.” The copy reads, in part, “Hilton HHonors transforms your points into memories you can’t help but share. Turn all those days on the road into time you spend on your family.”

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bill Brohaugh
As managing editor, Bill Brohaugh is responsible for the day-to-day management and editorial for the COLLOQUY magazine and, the most comprehensive loyalty marketing web site in the world. In addition to writing many of the feature articles, Bill develops the editorial calendar, hires and manages outside writers and researchers and oversees print and online production. He also contributes to COLLOQUY's weekly email Market Alert and the COLLOQUYTalk series of white papers.


  1. What do you mean by “Depicting the results of program participation increases the customers' perception of the value proposition.” How does Hilton do that>


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