Hilton invests US$2.5 million on search engines

SINGAPORE – Hilton International is investing US$2.5 million on search engines as part of its global initiative to drive online bookings. The idea is that surfers in key source markets for Hilton will see the Hilton.com proprietary site appear at the top of the listing when they use search engines to locate the brand. The money will be spent on popular search engines in the key source markets of Japan, Germany and Scandinavia and global ones like Google and Yahoo. Hilton has been investing millions in its e-commerce drive with the goal of growing direct distribution – to build direct relationships with its guests and extend special and personalised services to frequent guests. Earlier in the year, Hilton launched “Our Best rates. Guaranteed” to assure customers that they will find the lowest rates on Hilton International brand websites rather than through third party sites. If a guest were to find a lower rate on a ‘like for like’ basis through any other distribution channel, Hilton will match it and pay US$50 in local currency following completion of the hotel stay. Another online initiative was the introduction of several local language websites including a Japanese website, Hilton.co.jp at a cost of US$13.22 million. Other language specific websites under consideration include Chinese and Arabic language. David Michels, chief executive, Hilton Group said, ”We want the Hilton and Scandic brand websites to become the preferred booking method used by our customers.” Hilton’s initiatives for channel optimization through the Internet are paying off. In Japan, bookings are up 164 percent on first quarter of 2003 and as most of Hiton’s business in Japan originates from Japan, the hotel company said this is due to the new Japanese website. On a global scale, the Hilton Family said their online performance is leading the industry with 13 percent of their bookings through the Internet and 79 percent are from Hilton’s own proprietary websites. Hilton also claims their number of online bookings grew by 40 percent last year, setting an industry record.

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