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Hampton kept it simple the last two years, responding to its own market research with a renewed focus on young travelers, a growing demographic that is quintessentially accessible due to its constant social media use. That simple approach seems to be paying off.

As we reported last week, new data from the travel and hospitality marketing firm MMGY Global, which releases an annual Portrait of American Travelers, showed this year that some traditional front-runner brands had begun to lose their market dominance to new traveler favorites.

Hampton Inn and Hotels, a subsidiary of Hilton, emerged as one of the latter. Twelve percent of MMGY’s survey respondents named Hampton as one of their three favorite hotel brands in 2013, up from only three percent of  in 2011.

To explain its recent popularity boost, Hampton points to its 2012 advertising campaign, “Feel the Hamptonality.” Created to highlight the brand’s ‘humanity’ and ‘personality’, that campaign aimed to portray a personal touch, with commercials showing scenes of a concierge handing a brown-bag breakfast to a businessman, and hotel staff singing and dancing.

But Hampton’s recent efforts also included a major millennial push. The company recruited seven young “digital influencers” to visit its hotels across the nation and post about their trips on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. (Hampton also created its own Instagram page for the first time.)

While the direct results of this “digital influence” aren’t easy to quantify, the companion ‘Hamptonality’ commercial, below, is youthful and fun.

Hampton is certainly not the only hotel brand concerned with millennials’ lodging habits. Many brands are struggling to understand the practices and preferences of this this hard-to-read and quickly changing demographic. In the most recent example, Wyndham Hotels’ spent the opening session of its annual global conference today discussing the millennial problem, which it said was one of its two major challenges.

This growing — and aging — customer base is necessarily a crucial customer base for hotels, as Hampton realizes.  “This is a key group of alpha-influencers in which seven out of ten Millennials think it is their responsibility to share feedback with companies after a good or bad experience,” said Judy Christa-Cathey, Hampton’s vice president of global marketing. “We knew it was important to create a program that could resonate with them.”

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Tags: loyalty

Photo credit: In Hampton Inn's recent 'Feel the Hamptonality' commercials, millennials travel the country posting about their experiences on social media. Screenshot / Hampton Inn

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