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VOL. 128 | NO. 127 | Monday, July 1, 2013

Sullivan Travels Globe for Hilton

By Andy Meek

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Sullivan Branding literally goes around the world for clients. Eric Melkent, executive vice president of brand development with Sullivan, along with account planner Kate Cooke, got back a few days ago from a globe-spanning trip to Shanghai and Orlando as part of their work with Hilton Worldwide luxury brands.


Every two years or so, the hotel company puts on a luxury brand conference called Luxcon, and this year it was held in two locations to give Luxcon more of a regional focus. One event was held in Shanghai earlier in June for Hilton’s hotels in Europe and Asia, and the other event came a few days later in Orlando, focusing on hotels in the Americas.


Hotel experts spoke to the crowd at Luxcon about topics like how the luxury consumer is changing. Melkent and Cooke attended both events, acting as content development partners for Hilton.

“We worked with the executive team to write speeches, design talking points, think through what the agenda was going to be and really work directly with them,” Cooke said.

Melkent put together PowerPoint presentations for the hotel’s executives, and both Sullivan representatives worked together on several keynote speeches for brand executives.

Melkent and Cooke flew to Shanghai May 31 and arrived on June 1. They got settled in and then began rehearsing with hotel speakers as they arrived, making changes on the spot to the presentations as needed.

Sullivan Branding has been charged with helping steward Hilton’s Waldorf & Astoria Hotels and Resorts and Conrad Hotels and Resorts brands through internal marketing and brand culture programs. That Hilton has tapped them for an assist with the company’s communication needs is a reflection of the fact the hotel business has changed over the years.

“The conference is an extra thing on top of everything else, and they’re trying to be as efficient as possible, so content execution is something they really don’t have someone for,” Cooke said. “We do a lot of internal communications for that crowd and I think we have a pretty good sense of who the audience is and message they need to hear. They really trust us to be the torchbearers.”

Cooke said the Waldorf brand brings a widely recognized cachet and includes a few dozen properties around the world with a strong pipeline of more to come. Its mission, in fact, is to be the fastest-growing luxury hotel brand, she said.

Conrad, meanwhile, is similarly sized and has lots of hotels in the pipeline. Most of its properties are in Asia.

In recent days, Hilton Worldwide announced the opening of its 4,000th hotel in the Hebei province of China, putting the company’s number of hotels in Greater China now at 35. In total, Hilton Worldwide encompasses a line of different brands that includes hotels and timeshare properties with more than 650,000 rooms in 90 countries and territories.

“Last year they opened properties on four continents,” Cooke said of Conrad. “Their whole thing is ‘smart luxury.’ Conrad has been around 25 years or so and is really making a concerted effort in development and, combined with Waldorf, really looking to make their mark.”

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