Hilton Honors ReLaunch
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Holmes Report

Hilton Honors ReLaunch

Douglas·Cohn & Wolfe (DCW) conceived HHonors Business Travel Forum as the perfect launch event for HHonors’ new partners and initiatives.

Paul Holmes


Hilton HHonors is the only hotel program that allows its members to simultaneously accumulate both airline miles and hotel points for the same stay. With Hilton Hotels Corporation’s (HHC) acquisition of Promus in November 1999, HHonors was poised to extend the program from about 400 Hilton and Conrad International properties to more than 2,000 participating Hilton, Conrad International, Doubletree Hotels, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hampton Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites by Hilton Hotels and Hilton Garden Inn properties around the world. A short five months after the acquisition, Hilton was ready to introduce the new and improved HHonors program to members and the media.

HHC needed to leverage its successful guest reward program to help build new business at its recently acquired brands and continue to increase existing business. Douglas·Cohn & Wolfe (DCW) conceived HHonors Business Travel Forum as the perfect launch event for HHonors’ new partners and initiatives. The press conference would bring together key Hilton Hotels Corporation brand and HHonors representatives with influential members of the business travel press, offering them a “sneak peek” at how the extended program would work and what it would mean to all the brands. In addition, DCW developed press materials to help support HHonors’ new “Own the &” advertising campaign, so-named because of the program’s unique points “&” miles sales proposition.


The key to the success of the HHonors relaunch was getting the right business travel reporters to attend the Business Travel Forum, our launch event. More important than circulation numbers or broadcast reach, our main concern was that the reporters’ outlets be widely seen or read by our target audience—business travelers. To put together the perfect group, we did a thorough search for key influencers in all business-related publications and broadcast outlets.


  • Introduce HHonors’ new partners and initiatives
  • Reinforce key messaging in HHonors’ “Own the &” advertising and public relations campaign
  • Open a dialogue between business travel writers and HHC and HHonors representatives
  • Provide a forum for discussing the state of the frequent guest program industry
  • Help increase HHonors enrollment at the six additional brands by spreading the news about the program expansion


  • Relaunched HHonors with the Business Travel Forum press conference attended by high-level HHC and HHonors representatives and top tier business travel media 
  • Selected March 7 as event date because this was the earliest HHonors could be ready to roll out the extended program to media and consumers
  • Followed-up the Business Travel Forum with a targeted press kit mailing to business travel writers who had not attended the event


Business Travel Forum Event

  • Drafted specific talking points for Hilton, Conrad International, Doubletree Hotels, Embassy Suites Hotels, Hampton Inn and Hampton Inn & Suites, Homewood Suites by Hilton Hotels, Hilton Garden Inn and HHonors representatives 
  • Put together an extensive Q & A document addressing crucial issues such as the new program’s impact on business results, launch costs, operations and others
  • Created and distributed event briefing book to HHonors representatives, keeping them informed of the day’s agenda and activities

Press Kit

  • Designed to support HHonors’ “Own the &” advertising concept in both content and graphics, the press materials included descriptions of, and information on, the program’s new and existing hotel and airline partners
  • The accordian design of the press package unfolds to reveal a chain of “ANDS,” with each fold featuring an “AND” message on HHonors’ hotels, program features and reward options
  • Included an explanation of all the earning and reward options available with HHonors and a hotel guest reward program comparison highlighting the fact that HHonors is the only program to offer points AND miles

News Bureau 

  • Created a target list of top tier business travel writers
  • Conducted pro-active pitch calls to secure media attendance 
  • Followed up with all attending media to secure post-event coverage
  • Created and distributed a matte release in November offering tips for spotting the perfect guest reward program


Hilton HHonors’ re-launch was a resounding success for both the media and the HHonors program.

Attendees included Jane Levere, New York Times; Donna Rosato, USA Today; Randy Peterson, InsideFlyer, Chris Elliott, BizTravel.com; Joe Brancatelli, The Travel Show; Brian Kelleher, Reuters; and Chris Barnett, Copley News Service, among others.

The event generated extensive media coverage, including hits in USA Today, InsideFlyer and on Copley News Service. 

In just five months, information about HHonors extended program, introduced at the Business Travel Forum and packaged in the press kit, has produced almost 35 million media impressions.

The matte release has produced an additional 2,320,000 media impressions thus far.

Media coverage has helped boost HHonors enrollment almost 417 percent since the March launch, leading to a capacity increase of 152 percent.  In addition, the HHonors website is averaging 1.25 enrollments per minute since March. 
The forum created an ongoing dialogue between key media targets and HHonors that continues today, and the client was so pleased with the results that DCW and HHonors are making it a yearly event.

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