Hilton Worldwide is one of the world’s largest hotel companies, which operate more than 3,700 hotels around the globe. The company’s flagship brand, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, has more than 540 properties in 78 countries across six continents. The Company stands as the stylish, innovative leader in the full service segment. As a part of the company’s vision, to stay the leader in the hospitality industry, Hilton Hotels and Resorts is seeking to establish better communication between the company and its publics. Hotel public relations include activities such as press relations, special events planning, newsletters, community relations and many more. Being a global company their main PR function is to focus on “media relations and brand reputation” says John Forrest Ales, Senior Director for global brand PR at Hilton Hotels and Resorts (Ciarallo, 2009).
In order to this, with the help of Covalent logic which is an integrated communications firm which providing design, programming and strategy for business and government, Hilton Global Brand Public Relations created the Hilton Global Media Center (HGMC), the hotel industry’s first-ever online media center, and the company’s premier comprehensive online resource for media (Bucci, 2011). The best way to describe this process is gatekeeping theory. In human communication, gatekeeping is the progress through which ideas and information are filtered for publication. The internal decision making progress of relaying or withholding information from the media to the masses (Cassidy, 2006).
According to John Forrest Ales, HGMC is one central collection point for reporters to find everything they need, including: access to company releases, photographs and videos, brand fact sheet and history of Hilton Hotels and Resorts, media contact information, media inquiry and many more important information for reporters and also for public. It is one of the best ways to learn about what is happening within their brand and across their hotels. He continues, saying that The Hilton Global Media Center has transformed the way they interact with media and driven a direct increase in their share of voice and media coverage prominence (Bucci, 2011). In this key, the HGMC is the
gatekeeper who decides what information should move to publics and what information should not. Gate keeping is nothing but to block unwanted or useless things by using a gate. So if something bad happening in Hilton Hotels they have power not to publicize. On the other hand, some news must be accessible for publics, for example important events around any of the Hotels, which may influence travelers or Hotel’s guests. The Hilton Global Media Center accomplished several objectives, which included extending PR hospitality to media professionals seeking information about any of the Hilton Hotels & Resorts worldwide in a timely, efficient and accommodating manner and improving the response speed to media queries by leveraging new media. The online media center rejuvenated the brand’s languishing reputation as an industry maverick and provided the global network of properties the ability and autonomy to promote their hotels, while also supporting the brand (Bucci, 2011).
As a result of hard work, HGMC was successfully planned and delivered in a fast-changing global and local media landscape. Within just three months after the Hilton Global Media Center’s initial launch, the company had a 10 percent increase in media coverage. One aspect of the HGMC that is extremely beneficial is the translation features and tools. Because of this feature, users of 85 different languages have accessed the website. This is something that people could not find in other hospitality businesses (Bucci, 2011). In these cases, when the company prepares something exceptional for publics, it is good way to manage the reputation of this company as well.
Reputation is treated as the feedback from others concerning the credibility of an organization’s itself-definition. Organizations use measures of reputation to improve their public messages and relationship building practices (Leuven and Mak). Hilton Hotels and Resorts have very good reputation not just because of luxurious brand but also because of Company’s culture. Firstly, company has strong management all around Hilton Hotels. Managers are with wide-ranging experience from focused-service hotels to luxury and large resort projects, for example, Senior Director for global brand PR at Hilton Hotels and Resorts, John Forrest Ales.
His experience includes strengthening the reputations of the world’s largest retailer and a governor recovering from the greatest natural disaster in U.S. history. In 2010 John Forrest Ales was named to PR Week’s “40 Under 40” list, which recognizes top talent in the public relations industry (Arkansas alumni association, 2012). He is professional who works to improve relationships between company’s employees and customers. Both frontline and management workers of Hilton Hotels are well-trained to deliver a perfect customer serving. Hilton Hotels tends to select employees with the right skills and knowledge. It is revealed that Hilton Hotels welcomes and prefers employees who have degrees from hospitality institutes in Switzerland. However, those with appropriate experiences are also welcomed. All workers of Hilton Hotels are required to attend both on-the-job and off-the-job training programmes to ensure that they are equipped with the right tools to carry out a good customer service.
At the same time, to motivate all workers to work towards the assigned tasks with their best effort, Hilton Hotels provides its workers with financial and non-financial rewards. Some employees who have been working for the hotel for more than two years are eligible for organisational rewards, which are in the form of shares that are sold to workers at a discounted price (Watson, 2007). Moreover, in 2008, Hilton Hotels and Resorts created Dubbed [email protected] program, which is good opportunity to people who desire the flexibility to work at home the ability to choose their own hours from available pool of hours, working from the comfort of their own surroundings (Haussman, 2008).
In order to this, the business maximizes the value of its internal and external relationships and maintains a good reputation overall. In today’s highly competitive world, an increasing number of companies have realized the importance of becoming more customer-centric and invested a large amount of time and resources in relationship management system with the aim of better managing their publics. During long existence years, Hilton Hotels and Resorts have built enormous Online Empire which is accessible for everyone around the world. Hilton appears to be setting the industry standard in terms of innovation and how it provides amenities and services. The Hilton Hotels and Resorts are now focused on their Customers Really Matter Initiative (CRM). CRM is a way to use technology to give company the power to solidify relationships with their best customers (University of Washington, 2009). No other hotel in the world is taking the initiative to create something like CRM which will again solidify Hilton as an industry leader. Under the concept of value chain, it can be assumed that the targeted customers of Hilton Hotels are those who are quality conscious and they are willing to pay extra for the best service.
However, Hilton Hotels uses differentiation strategy to develop a good relationship with customers and this enables to retain customers more effectively. To keep customers updated with new offers, Hilton Hotels sends electronic mails to customers who sign up for the service. The technology makes it easy for Hilton Hotels to develop a customer database and this can help them to monitor the behaviour of targeted customers more effectively. Hilton Hotels also utilises other new forms of media to keep a good relationship with customers through social networks like Facebook and YouTube. This enables customers to share experiences about their stay at Hilton Hotels. At the same time, this also allows Hilton Hotels to keep public informed about recent events and activities. Hilton firmly believes that he customer matters and they want the customer to feels special. With the technology available today Hilton Hotels and Resorts will be able to meet and exceed the demands of their publics.
The public relations practitioner must further their community relations as well as maintain credibility, build solid internal and external relationships, and effectively manage issues. Organisation public relations can be defined as the state which exists between an organization and its key publics in which the actions of either entity impact the global, economic, social, political or cultural well-being of the other entity (Bruning & Ledingham, 1999). Sustainability is one of the single most important global issues facing the world. A clear understanding of the issues surrounding climate change, global warming, air and water pollution, ozone depletion, deforestation, the loss of biodiversity and global poverty is essential for every manager in the hospitality industry. After global warming, everyone has become more cautious about environment, more organisations have realised responsibility towards environment.
Hilton Worldwide focus on sustainability, the company intends to mitigate their impact on the environment, create economic value for their owners, and provide a better experience for their guests. As a result of the global confusion Hilton Hotels and Resorts became first multi-brand company in hospitality industry, in April 2010, after formally announcing “Lightstay”, a property- level sustainability measurement (Environmental Friendly, 2010). A tool exclusive owned by Hilton’s, to measure sustainability performance impact by taking into consideration energy and water use and waste and carbon outputs associated with building operations and involving 200 operational practices services including housekeeping, paper product usage, food waste, chemical storage, air quality and transportation at 1300 Hilton properties. The purpose of Hilton for adopting such measures was to make guest experience rich and impel economic returns.
The efforts of Hilton Hotel toward sustaining environment are outstanding. Hilton has a different department only to look in issues related to sustainability. Hilton support lot of social causes and environment sustainability is one of it. Hilton is one of the oldest players in its industry; still responsibility for environment sustainability came much later. Looking at Hilton Hotel’s efforts, many hotels are matching up their efforts in sustaining environment with Hilton. More eco-conscious business travelers are taking closer look at eco-friendly hotels.
Equally important today’s problem is the current economic crisis in whole world. As with most industries, the hospitality, travel and leisure sector is experiencing numerous challenges as a result of the global economic crisis. In order to manage economic issues in PR, Hilton Hotels and Resorts try to send the message for publics that hotels are not just for people who have a lot of money, but also accessible for middle to budget travelers. Lower prices for bare basics are becoming more popular. Price, Distribution, Promotion, and Product Elements Rates are one of the many variables that determine customer’s decision in staying at a particular hotel. Prices differ from one market to another and from one location to another. Although Hilton brand is widely recognizable, they always offer their products for a price their target market is willing to pay. To conclude, Hilton Hotels and Resorts created successful public relations strategy which helps them to stay leader in hospitality industry.
The company looks at the importance of their reputation, relationship management and specially the opportunities offered by social media. One of the best Hilton Hotel’s communication sources is Hilton Global Media centre. It is difficult to find an aspect of the campaign that needs improvement. Hilton Global Brand Public Relations have teamed up to create an unbelievably successful campaign. Just by visiting the site people can tell that a lot of time and effort as well as constant two-way communication went into the development and marketing of the site. According to Jonh Forres Ales, the company genuinely believes that designing the site from a reporter’s perspective and understanding that the reporters covering Hilton live in all corners of the world positioned the site for long-term success (Bucci, 2011).
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