NBC, Hilton Tap ‘Skoot’ to Drum Up Travel Buzz, Biz

NBC has entered into partnership with Hilton Hotels & Resorts to co-produce and distribute original travel-related content for the media company’s just-out-of beta Web site TravelSkoot.com.

The two partners have recently unveiled a Hilton branded channel on TravelSkoot (travelskoot.com/Hilton), which features tips travel itineraries and videos on the cities New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, San Francisco, and others based on recommendations from Hilton concierges. The site is the latest project initiated by the NBC Digital Networks division, which previously launched the pet-owner-targeted PetSide in conjunction with Proctor and Gamble.

The plan is to roll out Hilton-provided information on 35 different locations on TravelSkoot this year. In addition, Hilton and NBC have already produced 400 travel videos for the site, with 1,300 more short clips to be posted over the next few months.

Hilton is also running banner placements and pre-roll video ads on TravelSkoot, which has been in beta for nearly a year, with Hilton playing a role in its development. Devin Johnson VP NBC Digital Networks, described the site as “Google Maps meets Yelp.” Users can create their own travel recommendations on TravelSkoot—i.e. “skoots”– and then plot their personalized itineraries on a map, which can then be shared with friends.

When conceiving the site, “We wanted to focus on the essence of travel,” said Johnson. “This is not about specific places but rather around user interests…such as the best romantic afternoons, or kid friendly activities.”

That’s where Hilton’s expertise comes in. From NBC’s perspective, Hilton’s content helps lend the user-generated, content-rich site a professional voice. “We’re not experts in travel, but Hilton is. We have our editorial staff and our editorial voice, but [they have] their credibility.”

For Hilton, the site is a way to service current customers while hopefully enticing new ones.

“When we first talked to NBC, we were really intrigued by what they were trying to do,” said Abby Spatz, Hilton’s senior director, marketing and advertising. “We like the idea of doing branded content over just pure travel content. Anything we can do to enhance our guest experience with us and keep them staying with us more, that’s what we’re after. And with new prospects, it’s an opportunity to create a new branded experience and to create new guest conversations.”

While Hilton is TravelSkoot’s launch partner, Johnson said their heavy presence site does not prevent the site from seeking other travel advertisers, such as car rental companies and airlines.

But while Hilton is running traditional banners and the like, “ads are not the focal point” of this deal, said Johnson. “It’s about the experience.”