Social media & influencer marketing powering Hilton’s focused strategy
Hilton Hotels & Resorts has set the benchmark for hospitality around the world, providing new product innovations and services to meet guests’ evolving needs. With more than 575 hotels across six continents, Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties are located in the world’s most sought-after destinations for guests who know that where they stay matters.
Redefining the standards of leisure hospitality and heralding the modern luxury services of the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand, Hilton is proud to announce the launch of its newly launched property Hilton Goa Resort. The launch marks the debut of Hilton Resorts brand in India, a fine and attractive property to Hilton’s multi-brand expansion drive. With its unique location, atop the scenic, terraced slopes of Saipem Hills, overlooking the Nerul River, the resort extends Hilton’s signature hospitality and world-class amenities, along with unparalleled experiences to guests.
As Goa remains an integral market to cater to the growing leisure travel, the brand aims at hosting travelers in these unique times by addressing their evolved requirements and making their travel a distinct and memorable experience. Being one of the first few properties to be launched in COVID times, Hilton Goa Resort is committed to bringing industry-first initiatives much like the Digital key technology and the delight the customer in every way makes their stay memorable.
In conversation with Adgully, Amandeep Grover, General Manager, Hilton Goa Resort, Candolim, Goa, speaks about how Hilton has geared up to serve their customers during the pandemic times and how they are looking at every step of the customers’ stay is enriched with fun filled experience and made memorable.
Safety is the biggest concern that a traveller has in these times, be it flying or staying at a hotel. How is Hilton planning to provide a contactless stay and what safety protocols are being followed to make it a safe and peaceful stay at Hilton Resort Goa?
At Hilton Goa Resort, we have doubled-down on our award-winning technology to extend a contactless arrival. We understand that our guests’ expectations for cleaning and disinfection have changed. Hilton globally has partnered with RB, makers of Lysol and Dettol to help deliver the highest standards of cleanliness with the creation of the Hilton CleanStay program. Our expert housekeeping staff makes it all possible by disinfecting the rooms thoroughly, including all switches and electronic controls, handles and knobs, major bathroom surfaces, and the remote control to ensure that everything is clean and untouched. Upon arrival, guests will have to break the Hilton CleanStay Room Seal before they enter, delivering complete satisfaction and peace of mind during their stay.
Similar sanitization protocols are followed for sanitization of public spaces for a worry-free experience. Hilton Goa Resort is also fully equipped with contactless arrival with Digital Key technology, providing easy access to rooms directly from one’s smartphone. All common areas and public access rooms promote social distancing and require guests to wear masks. We have deployed temperature screening and hand sanitizer stations for effective management. We also disinfect all guest luggage on arrival and have Hilton CleanStay signage at prominent locations across the resort. All team members strictly follow all safety protocols.
The service levels at the hotels will have a new dimension. How do you plan to hone the skills and train your hotel teams and staff members to face challenges in the new normal?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on every industry, and the hospitality sector has altered the way it functions and operates. As domestic travel has started to pick up after the easing of lockdown guidelines, the industry has resolved to innovative measures to cater to the evolved demands and expectations of guests in the COVID era. Foremost being the increased responsibility towards ensuring guest safety and introducing the highest standard of safety and sanitization protocols along with cognizant social distancing measures. For this, we have introduced significant design changes along with digital technologies and solutions to facilitate services and functions to run smoothly. What we have tirelessly worked towards is to retain Hilton’s brand ethos and its signature hospitality.
Our main goal currently is to not only look at the well-being of the guest, but also the team members. We also did look at our manpower, but have not let go of any of our team members. We used this opportunity to train our team members across various departments, as multiskilling is the way forward, which has certainly helped us. Our main mantra has been to keep our team happy and engaged, which has ensured happy guests, which in turn will assist us in moving towards profitability.
The pandemic has also disturbed the spending levels both at the personal and corporate levels. Pricing will be an important factor here so what’s going to be your pricing strategy?
With the current prevalent times, getting business is paramount to survive. That being said, the upscale segment in Goa is already seeing a recovery trend. Guests have entrusted established brands that have various protocols put in place due to the pandemic. We believe that if you have the right experiences given to the guest, the rates can be upheld. Strategic calls have to be taken based on the prevalent times.
The traveller today has a host of hotel choices when he or she thinks of Goa. How is the Hilton differentiating itself from the rest of the players to provide an enjoyable and memorable stay?
After being homebound for most of the year in 2020, guests are looking for family travel destinations and new experiences that also include staying in new and different properties. Our unique hilltop location gives us an edge over other properties in Goa as it offers unparalleled river views and personalised experiences to cater to the various age groups. Our spacious rooms with private balconies are one of the largest in Goa. The focus has been on making the in-resort experiences stronger as we understand guests want to spend more time inside the property. Looking at this trend, we have curated activities for guests across all age groups. From culinary workshops, cocktail/ mocktail sessions, curated local Goan experiences to kids interactive classes, unique @YourBalcony experiences, and many more. Hilton Goa Resort also offers three unique destinations for food and beverage options. Guests can relax at @Saipe, the all-day dining multi-cuisine restaurant offering a pool and panoramic views. There is Doce, which is our charming coffee lounge, and Coco is a transformative high-octane bar and restaurant that features a Mediterranean-inspired menu. All these options are distinct and offer a great dining experience. Having said that, an equal focus is laid down on enhancing the in-room dining experience and offer meals in a unique tiffin concept. We ensure all protocols pertaining to contactless food delivery are strictly adhered. Additionally, our unique outdoor spaces allow us to host intimate social events.
The year 2020 was tough for everyone. How do you see 2021 for the travel business? What are challenges you envisage and what kind of strategy will be planning to woo customers and grow this new property?
The pandemic did hit the pause button on the travel industry, which has taught us far greater lessons in terms of empathy and patience. This further encouraged us to look at adversities into opportunities and look for innovative ways of serving guests and staying relevant. Brands must adapt to the new normal and prioritise to meet the needs of guests. Fortunately, Goa has seen a huge uptick in demand, as travellers across the country prefer Goa as their preferred post lockdown travel destination. We are also seeing an increase in business travel as people are opting for work from hotels and combining work and leisure. Therefore, the opportunities are massive for established brands like ours.
As guests prefer staycations and short-haul trips, we have launched our staycation package with Great Small Breaks, which includes complimentary breakfast, resort credit, a unique Goan Masterclass experience, and a 20% discount on food and beverage and laundry. With guests looking to spending more time in the comforts of their room, we have introduced @YourBalcony experiences to bring all the distinct experiences right on the balcony of your guestroom. This includes wine tasting, yoga sessions, BBQ, cocktail making, and culinary masterclasses curated by the expert team at Hilton Goa Resort.
Extending flexibility, through the Hilton Honors app and award-winning Digital Key technology, we offer our guests the option for a contactless arrival experience. Guests can check-in, choose their room, access their room with a digital room key, and checkout using their mobile devices through the mobile app. These and many more initiatives have been introduced to address guest expectations and requirements in times of COVID.
Finally, what’s going to be your engagement strategy? What are the various consumer touchpoints that you are looking to reach out to your prospects? Any planned media strategy worked out?
Technologies, tools, industries, and consumer preferences are rapidly changing, which essentially means that brands need to continuously evolve to keep pace. While the digital platform has gained traction over the years, it has now disrupted the way hospitality brands communicate with guests. As people continue to rely on shared travel experiences during COVID before finalising their accommodation plans, it has become important for us to reach out to travellers in their home at the planning stage, with the right message and at the right time. We have seen a significant increase in content consumption across social media platforms and that is where we are most focussed. Digital is a lead component of our marketing mix, as it has become the most important touchpoint for the category. Social media, influencer marketing, content marketing, which drive travel preferences, is a focused strategy.