MCLEAN, VA: Hilton Worldwide has selected HL Group as global AOR for its luxury Waldorf Astoria and Conrad Hotels & Resorts brands following a competitive review.
The firm began work on the account on May 1.
More than six agencies competed in the RFP, said Stuart Foster, VP of marketing for Hilton Worldwide Luxury Brands. He declined to name the other firms in the review.
Prior to bringing on HL, Edelman oversaw PR for the Hilton luxury brands, added Foster.
Edelman representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Hilton selected the firm to handle all PR efforts in the US, as well as oversee the luxury brands' regional agencies, said Foster.
In January, Waldorf and Conrad appointed Grifco Public Relations as AOR for EMEA and Ruder Finn Asia for Asia-Pacific.
Foster, who spent 15 years in marketing roles at luxury company LVMH Moët Hennessy- Louis Vuitton, said he's helped Hilton shift its communications strategy since “PR is a major piece of the luxury marketing mix.”
“What we're trying to do with the brands is put them in a luxury positioning in the eyes of the consumer rather than just hospitality,” he explained. “We're not just hotels and resorts; we're places where people can have luxury experiences.”
HL, which will lead the account out of its New York headquarters, will focus on telling the brands' stories in a proactive way that engages consumers. Foster said he saw a big difference during the RFP process between agencies that only handle media relations and press requests and those that generate ideas and programs.
Hilton was impressed with HL's experience with luxury brands, such as jewelry company David Yurman and fashion brand Diane von Fürstenberg, as well as its travel experience with Expedia.
In addition to media and blogger engagement and idea generation, Foster said HL will work closely with the company's social media content agency People Ideas & Culture to distribute stories through social channels.
HL will also work on regional events and thought-leadership initiatives. The firm is already helping with messaging and celebrity guest seating for the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria 50th anniversary event in June.
The agency's main objective is to drive awareness of Waldorf and Conrad, said Foster. He added that many people often associate Waldorf Astoria with its flagship location in New York when the brand operates more than 20 hotels around the world. Conrad also has more than 20 locations.
While the initial contract is for one year, Foster said that “PR takes time” and the company anticipates a long relationship with HL. He declined to disclose budget information.