To New Memories: Q&A with Hilton’s Kasey O’Leary

Jordan Kelley, Content Director, BrandStorytelling.tv

As the travel and tourism industry manage through the global pandemic, Hilton has continued to believe that the desire to travel, experience new cultures and connect with others is core to the human experience. According to a new study conducted on behalf of Hilton, Americans say travel is their most frequently recalled happy memory, more than special occasions or personal achievements and the majority cite creating lasting memories as a primary motive for trips. All this staying at home leads 90% of survey respondents to believe that the nation is facing a travel memory deficit that will have a long-lasting impact, including greater stress and missed opportunity for special moments with loved ones. Additional insights showed 94% of Americans are planning on traveling once they feel comfortable doing so, and 66% even say they will stop putting off trips they have always wanted to take. These consumer insights, ahead of the coming holiday period, have given Hilton the confidence to launch the global “To New Memories” campaign, which encourages people to consider making new memories safely with Hilton.

Brand Storytelling caught up with Kasey O’Leary, Vice President of Global Enterprise/Honors Marketing at Hilton to learn more about the difficulties brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic, the nature of the research that motivated this new campaign, and how “To New Memories” aligns with Hilton’s brand values:


How did Coronavirus impact your scheduled marketing earlier in the year? What did you do then to pivot?

At the onset of the pandemic, like many companies, Hilton pressed the pause button on all planned brand marketing activations. Hilton has a long history of being a trusted community partner and we pivoted from our original plans to focus on reinforcing Hilton’s commitment to our communities by donating up to one million rooms to medical professionals in the U.S. and providing meals in partnership with World Central Kitchen. Additionally, Hilton supported its Team Members hit hard by the pandemic through grants from The Hilton Effect Foundation. We also reinforced our trusted leadership in the travel and hospitality industry by adopting new global protocols and programs such as Hilton’s industry-defining CleanStay program, flexible booking policies, and Contactless Arrival made possible by the Hilton Honors app and our award-winning Digital Key technology. While we focused on making changes internally to remind guests of Hilton’s hospitality, cleanliness and flexibility during the pandemic, our first global marketing campaign since the onset of COVID-19, “To New Memories,” is designed to inspire and reassure consumers and make them feel comfortable with Hilton as their first choice to make new memories as they ease back into travel.


Where did the search for consumer data come in?

While we recognize the travel recovery journey will continue to be fluid globally, we are seeing encouraging signs for the indus