Global Appeal: New Network Lets Hilton Localize Content

'We're now much more able to take our worldwide network of hotels and market them to where our customers live,' says Davis, senior VP at Hilton International, which operates 450 hotels.

Tony Kontzer, Contributor

January 17, 2004

2 Min Read

Hilton International operates some 450 hotels in 63 countries outside the United States, yet it depended on U.S.-centric for nearly all its online marketing. It learned that relying on content made by Americans in English to get Japanese travelers to stay in a German hotel didn't work.

So the business, a unit of Hilton Hotels Corp., invested $13 million to develop a network of property-specific Web sites tuned to local cultures, depending on content-management technology to make it happen. "We're now much more able to take our worldwide network of hotels and market them to where our customers live," says Tim Davis, senior VP of distribution and E-commerce.

It's a critical capability because Hilton expects online bookings to grow from 15% to 45% of sales within five years.

The company realized that to have a German hotel simply translate its content into the target audience's language wouldn't go far enough to speak to people from other countries.

Hilton addressed the challenge by setting up a network using software from content-management vendor Interwoven Inc. for storing, sharing, and distributing content. Its hotels around the world can reuse content from other Hilton hotels that have taken the lead in developing information aimed at specific cultures.

It works like this: A hotel inputs the content of a promotion it has defined for an international market into the Interwoven software. The software automatically localizes it by adding information of interest to a specific culture, such as images of a country's attractions or details about hotel amenities that appeal to a particular nationality. It then translates the content into the appropriate language and automatically routes it to Hilton's legal department to check for accuracy. "If you think of 450 hotels trying to do that ... you quickly see the challenge," Davis says.

The network also automates customer-to-hotel translations. For example, a Japanese customer can book a room online and type in any special requests in Japanese, and that information is provided to the hotel staff in German in time for the guest's arrival.

Davis wants to extend the Interwoven network to store and share marketing-related content developed throughout the company, such as brochures, third-party reseller information, and call-center data, that can be accessed from any hotel via a common interface.

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