In today’s marketing speak, “M&M, short for moms and Millennials,” is the most covetable group, especially when it comes to travel says Adrian Kurre, global head of Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton.
But instead of focusing on moms or Millennials for its latest marketing campaign, Hilton’s extended stay brands are looking to another traveler demographic: that of men, especially fathers. “We wanted to do something a little different that no one else in hospitality has really tracked,” Kurre said.
“When you look at Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites, we saw an opportunity to change that marketing message,” said Kurre. “A lot of our occupancy, based on business travel, is men. That higher percentage of men staying with us (68%) becomes a captive market and a great opportunity for us to skew that marketing message more heavily toward men who stay with us during the week for business travel.”
To reach male travelers, Hilton’s extended stay brands have launched a website, www.mencanplantravel.com, that includes professional advice, research, and itinerary suggestions tailored to men. Working with popular dad bloggers and spokesperson Noah Galloway, a U.S. Army veteran, American Grit mentor, and father of three, Hilton developed the site to become an online resource geared toward men, especially dads, and they’ve named the campaign the “Travel MANager” program.
The site features travel articles written by bloggers that include Armin Brott (a.k.a. Mr. Dad); Beau Coffron (a.k.a. Lunch Box Dad); Fred Goodall (a.k.a. Mocha Dad); Adrian Kulp (“Dad or Alive”); and Colby Shipwash (Days of a Domestic Dad). Topics include “5 must-visit family-friendly destinations in Atlanta, Georgia” and “Why travel planning is actually easy,” for example.
And, most importantly, the site also has a direct booking function that links directly to the Hilton.com site, and shows a variety of hotel booking options from all of Hilton’s 13 brands, but tailored toward family-friendly packages and properties like, you guessed it, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites. Rates are discounted as much as 25% for members of Hilton’s HHonors loyalty program.
“The whole concept for the Travel MANager program is to provide men with a complete range of tools — tips to save money, the latest deals from Hilton,” said Kurre. “The whole idea is about promoting where to go, what to do, and at the end of the day, we want them to stay with our brands.”
“The intent is that the site isn’t going to be totally branded Homewood and Home2,” said Kurre. “The reasons we’re doing this is to gain traction. It needs to look like something outside of the specific brands. But at the end of the day, we want to drive business to our Hilton brands, and there are no two brands are better set up within the Hilton family of brands to accommodate family travel than Homewood and Home2.”
To promote the site, Hilton will be utilizing social media and other digital channels. Kurre said the campaign will run until at least the end of the year.
Why Focus on Men, and Dads Specifically?
A big part of the Travel MANager campaign is targeted specifically to dads. Why is that, especially when it’s been widely reported that 80% of all travel decisions are made by women, regardless of whom they travel with, who pays for the trip, and where they go? And when newer research shows the increasing influence that children have in determining where and how a family vacations together.
Kurre said that the importance of shared Dad Time, or time spent between fathers and their children, was a big reason why Hilton wanted to focus specifically on marketing to fathers.
Hilton’s extended stay brands recently commissioned a survey from Wakefield Research to ask 1,000 fathers with children ages 5 to 18 years old, to ask them about travel planning, how they feel about traveling with their children, and the benefits of that type of travel.
The survey found the following:
- 89% of men would be interested in recreating a trip they took with their fathers, with their kids
- 88% of men would be interested in taking a trip with only (e.g. one parent) their children this year
- 92% said their kids are more likely to open-up and talk when traveling
- 89% believe travelling alone with their kids is one of the best ways to bond
- 63% said their kids listen more when traveling
“Travel planning has become the default position for women and I know this has happened to me. My wife is a stay-at-home mom and she does most of the travel planning,” Kurre said. “We’re not targeting men to say men can do this better — we just want men to step up and take the pressure off of their significant others. This should be an enhancer.”
The other type of travel to be promoted on the site will also be that of romance, said Kurre. While the initial launch is focused on family travel, later this year the sight will also be promoting weekend escapes with significant others.
“Your significant other could be your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or partner,” Kurre said. “It’s all about surprising and delighting those loved ones you have.”
Eventually, Kurre hopes the program will help his brands drive revenue, enhance brand loyalty, and maximize profitability for his brands by educating male consumers about the ease of travel planning.