Case Study: Travel Influencers Explore World’s Urban Wonders in Hilton-Sponsored (Ad)Venture

Hilton Hotels & Resorts reveals “Seven Urban Wonders of the World” and taps Instagram influencers to showcase the locations.

Hotels’ marketing strategies have always depended mainly on word-of-mouth marketing. In the digital era, word-of-mouth works mainly through social media and Hilton Hotels & Resorts recognizes and leverages this trend.

With more than 570 locations in 78 countries on six continents, Hilton is one of the world’s leading hospitality chains. Despite its established popularity, the brand constantly comes up with innovative ways to market its services and attract new customers, as well as followers. Hilton has one of the most popular Instagram accounts within the industry, with 310,000 followers.

Globetrotters and travel influencers help Hilton shortlist seven sought-after urban sites

In one of its recent influencer marketing campaigns the company leveraged popular online personalities to showcase the “Seven Urban Wonders of the World.” Hilton’s survey of 2,000 millennials led to the list of enticing metropolitan destinations, featuring the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the iconic Sydney Opera House, Tokyos’ Tsukiji Fish Market, London’s Camden Market, the Bund in Shanghai, Hong Kong’s Temple Street Night Markets and the Albertina gallery in Vienna.

“The shortlisted wonders were analysed and validated by Hilton’s intuitive travel tech partner LikeWhere, after crowdsourcing suggestions from travellers worldwide. Using the travel preferences of holidaymakers aged 18-35, the software was able to shortlist the locations that scored highest against criteria encompassing local cuisine, architecture, heritage and culture, diversity, activities available and Instagrammability,” Hilton said in a press release in October 2018.

Influencers bring #SevenUrbanWonders to engaged audiences

Following the announcement of the conducted survey and the newly-created “Seven Urban Wonders of the World” list, Hilton collaborated with micro and mid-tier travel influencers to promote the destinations and its hotels located in close proximity.

The influencers’ sponsored content included Instagram posts tagged @hiltonhotels, as well as the hashtags #RightHere and #SevenUrbanWonders. The latter has a total of 47 dedicated posts.

The content included indoor and outdoor locations, attractions and food within an easy walk of the sites, as well as Hilton hotel rooms and suites. Having a background in photography and videography, some of the influencers captured impressive views. Like London-based photographer, Alixe Lay, whose distinctive travel and lifestyle shoots are admired by 64,400 people on Instagram. For the best performing “Seven Urban Wonders of the World” post, Lay shared a photo of an area of Edinburgh, Scotland, taken from Calton Hill. The image garnered 7,219 likes and 111 comments, resulting in an engagement rate of 13.25%.

Lay made another Hilton-sponsored post, showing her “super comfy bed of @hiltonhotels”. The photo had over 2,500 likes, but generated lower engagement with just 22 comments.

As part of the campaign, Dubai-based photographer Junell Cornejo shared with his more than 95,000 followers a video capturing the architecture, people, shops, and environment in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The footage received 532,849 views, 18,574 likes, and 341 comments for an impressive engagement rate of 20.79%.

English-American influencer Max Stanton, better known as @maxofarabia, also demonstrated his videography skills. While he pledges to “show you the real Middle East,” his Hilton-sponsored post is from the Albertina in Vienna. “I seldom go to Europe, but when I do it is to discover one of the new Seven Urban Wonders of the World with @hiltonhotels,” he notes in the video’s caption.

The “Third Culture Kid”, as Max calls himself, further invites his 678,000 Instagram followers to his YouTube channel where they can find an extended 7-minute version of the video. There, the clip has been watched 1,349 times.

Brazilian-Colombian travel influencer Guillermo Zambrano also took part in the campaign, visiting the Louvre Abu Dhabi and posting a picture of him inside the spectacular art and civilization museum. “Thank you Hilton Capital Gran Abu Dhabi for letting me be a part of this squad,” Zambrano’s caption read. The post received 1,662 likes and 55 comments, achieving an engagement rate of 4.18%.


When it comes to the hospitality industry, the success of marketing campaigns is measured by the traffic generated to the hotel’s website or social media platform, as well as the obtained bookings. While we have no access to such information, it’s safe to say that Hilton did well in its “Seven Urban Wonders of the World” campaign, reaching a total of 2,720,000 Instagram users. According to Mediakix’s analysis, a sample of 15 posts amassed 110,302 likes, 1,892 comments and generated an average engagement rate of 4.62%.

The strong results can be attributed to the popularity of the selected influencers, the quality of their content and the niche public they have. The survey that preceded the campaign was also one of the strategy’s main pillars.

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Written by Deyana


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