A Look Back at Hilton’s Year on Top

It’s been nearly a year since [D³], the internal digital creative agency for Hilton Worldwide was named the 2016 In-House Agency of the Year. We caught up with the folks at [D³] to find out what first attracted them to the competition and what impact the win has had on their team.

IHAF: What prompted you to enter the In-House Agency of the Year competition?

[D³]: In 2016, we set an objective to build the reputation of our in-house agency and gain the respect of our internal stakeholders at Hilton. We are proud of the work we do and the value we bring to the company, so we saw this competition as a way to potentially make progress toward our goal.

IHAF: What was the reaction of the team when they learned [D³] won?

[D³]: Initially, we were thrilled to be selected as one of the three finalists. That alone was a big achievement and helped us realize that we’re among the strongest internal creative teams around. Winning validated all the years we’ve spent building and refining our creative capabilities.

IHAF: How did you spread word of your win across Hilton?

[D³]: First, we published an announcement on our team site on the Hilton Intranet, called The Lobby. This went to clients, business partners, our team, etc. Next, the win was announced as a news item on The Lobby homepage, and this distribution went to all Hilton team members. Then, we made sure it became a talking point for the executives [that we report to]. They frequently bring it up with other executives in formal and informal settings. Finally, we added it to our email signatures as well as pitch decks, note cards, and more.

IHAF: Did the win impact team morale and/or your client relationships?

[D³]: Yes, both. It was great to see our team brag about the win among colleagues, friends and family. To commemorate it, we got miniature trophies for each person on the [D³] team. Those were a big hit. For clients, we were able to elevate our status with groups within Hilton with whom we had strong working relationships. And for those [relationships] that were less established, it increased our credibility to start winning them over to bring work in house.

IHAF: What advice would you give to other in-house agencies that may be considering entering?

[D³]: We in-house agencies love to tell our origin stories, talk about our agency org structures and where we sit within the company overall. Resist the temptation to get into that level of detail when you submit your entry. Emphasize your work and contribution to the company instead. Also, treat your entry like a piece of creative that you’d deliver to a client. Finally, remember that the judges have to review a lot of entries; we’re sure they’d appreciate it if you keep things brief. 

IHAF: What’s next for the Digital Design + Development team at Hilton, a.k.a. [D³]?

[D³]: As our credibility and visibility increased with the win, so did demand for our services. This forced us to become a bit more selective about the work we accept because we can’t do it all. We’ve also received more requests for services that fall outside of our core competency, like photography and video. For photography, we’re ramping up because we see it as a good fit. For video, we’re evaluating whether or not to make the investment necessary to do it right.

IHAF’s In-House Agency of the Year is the only award of its kind, recognizing internal advertising/creative organizations for their notable achievements in areas such as business impact, client partnership, internal/external collaboration, cultivating culture, and more. The call for nominations for 2017 is currently open—enter to win by August 31, 2017 and your team could be named this year’s top shop! 

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