The Cookie


cokevspepsiBrand Differentiation

Every day we see how major brands compete with each other by differentiating similar products to win their markets. We almost don’t notice it, as even the price range is often the same, but subconsciously we make decision of our brand choice.

This choice is based on our experience with a particular brand, memories about the product, word of mouth, social media, brand reputation and many many other factors…

So, how do we analyse all these factors? How do we make the brand choice so quickly on a daily basis in our busy lives?…

Sometimes, it’s an impulse decision, the reason for which is still hidden deep in our subconscious…

Sometimes, it’s due to fashion or trend to boost our self-esteem and sometimes it is simply to show off!

And sometimes, this choice is even based on the “smell” of a product, whether it is a delicious meal, the leather handbag or even the hotel room!

I would like to share with you one of the unique examples of the brand differentiation which survived for over past 27 years and is still successfully attracting customers nowadays and will continue in a future. The key factor to attract customers’ attention, be different from the competitors and to create long lasting memories of the product was indeed the smell

The aroma of the warm freshly baked chocolate chip cookie with walnuts has put smiles on millions of guests of the Doubletree by Hilton hotels across the world for over past 27 years.



So, here is how the COOKIE crumbles…

Let’s get inspired by the Cookie and think about the new ideas for the hotel brand differentiation…

Cookie History – click to explore

Cookie Facts – click to explore

CookiEvolution – click to explore

CookiEmployee – click to explore




The Cookie is a signature element of the Doubletree by Hilton brand, it is its icon. It cannot be ignored, forgotten or underestimated!

According to the philosophy that Malcolm Gladwell (British-Canadian journalist, bestselling author, and speaker) offered in his work “The Tipping Point” – “the little things can make the biggest difference”. Exactly right! No wonder, it comes in line with the Doubletree’s motto – “Where the little things mean everything!” And the Doubletree by Hilton Chocolate Chip Cookie is not just a cookie… It’s much more than that!!!

Thank you for reading!

So, inspired by the Cookie story, I would like to challenge YOU to look for the NEW cookie idea!!! Let’s discuss the ideas for brand differentiation in hospitality business.

Whether you are the hotelier or the guest, how do you think we can differentiate the hotel offerings?

What would drive your choice of the hotel, taking into account that the location, standards, price, and other core elements of the product are the same?

The Cookie is a genius idea, which is alive for so many years. But what about us, have we run out of the ideas?..

Or we are just about to break through in the hotel brand differentiation with another brilliant idea?


I welcome your comments!

Thank you,



33 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Cookie Lover
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 14:40:43

    Alex, I love the doubletree cookies! Thank you for the great story! Wich hotel do you work at?


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 05, 2013 @ 00:59:01

      Thank you, Cookie Lover!
      I am working in London at Tower of London and Westminster hotels.


  2. Natasha Bush
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 22:43:33

    Nice blog Alex! Aroma marketing is a very interesting way of engaging customers… Will let my friends know about the cookies @ Hilton DoubleTree :)You know, many of us are travelling a lot 🙂 Well done and good luck! Natasha


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 05, 2013 @ 01:03:55

      Natasha, thank you for your comment!
      My wife is the marketing professional, who quickly corrected my terminology and told me everything about the “aroma marketing”. Fascinating!!!


      • Natasha Bush
        Jul 05, 2013 @ 10:23:13

        Fascinating indeed… LUSH cosmetics use it a lot (probably overwhelming aroma though…) I’ve noticed that cloths brands use this as well, so it has been penetrating all major industries… A friend of mine used to have a car where the leather smelled coffee… Really nice, a touch of luxury… In the case of your hotel I think it is also about a feeling of home being away, a nice smell of a cookie. This reminded me the statistics that a house is much easier to sell if it smells fresh coffee, and pastry (especially with cinnamon added). So ultimately, the smell of a cookie has been increasing sales! ::) A win-win situation 🙂

      • doubletreecookie
        Jul 05, 2013 @ 18:42:56

        Natasha, you are absolutely right – the feeling at home when you are away is very important in hotels! As it was also mentioned earlier by Elena, what counts is when the guest is made feel welcome. This is very the cookie come in handy 🙂 Thank you for supporting the discussion. Regards, Alex

  3. Silvia Papodolulus
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 22:50:13

    Hi Alex,
    Thank you for sharing this information. Love the idea of cookies! Price and location are the main drivers when selecting a hotel… Comfort and personal touch are vital when I’m paying for a luxury brand hotel. Things like cookies are really personal and it’s so nice for travellers away from home! One of the new ideas could be a nice box of your cookies for your special guests or the ones having birthdays when staying with you… They can either it these cookies when they are in the hotel or take the box with them to share with friends…
    Good luck,


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 05, 2013 @ 01:06:59

      Silvia, I agree with you. It’s a good idea about the cookie tins and we already widely use it for VIP gifts, sales trips and promotions. Thank you for participating in the discussion! Alex


  4. Ian Shultz
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 22:55:36

    Dear Alex,

    Brand differentiation is critical nowadays!! Totally agree with you! Personal attitudes is something that keep the customers come back again and again because we have so many various options offered by competitors. Not necessarily 100% of customers are 100% loyal, so nice cookie is a perfect way to help building loyalty. Will think about new ideas, interesting topic… Will let you know…


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 05, 2013 @ 01:08:02

      Ian, I look forward to your new ideas! Thank you for joining my blog!


      • Ian Shultz
        Jul 05, 2013 @ 10:14:14

        Hi Alex, I was just wondering, are you practicing visits to your competitors’ premises to just observe what’s going on there? I am actually thinking to start B&B business and once in a month I stay in different hotels for a night and just observe how they arrange things. Not for copying them, but for a bit of inspiration. And personal service and little brand things are quite touching!

      • doubletreecookie
        Jul 05, 2013 @ 18:50:38

        Ian, hi. Yes, in tough competition we need to be aware and on top of the new ideas provided in hospitality. And the Doubletree by Hilton was the first one to come up with the Cookie idea in hotel business, so we consider it as a big win! Good luck with your B&B and feel free to contact myself for any support. Regards, Alex

  5. Andrew Meehan
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 23:01:35

    “…the little things can make the biggest difference”. How true is that!

    Hi Alex, obviously such forward thinking hotel chain as Hilton have been already doing a lot for the brand differentiation. With regards to the new ideas, the main thing is to constantly maintain a high quality standards, cleanliness, show respect to the guests. These are trivial things, but they are so critical. The innovations I think should be in the area of HOW maintain these standards…



    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 05, 2013 @ 01:11:05

      Hi, Andrew. Yes, I agree, let’s discuss it further. Are you from hospitality background? Consistency in core brand standards – the must to stay on top of the competition. Thank you for sharing, Alex


      • Andrew Meehan
        Jul 05, 2013 @ 10:09:37

        Morning Alex,
        I used to work in hospitality industry before, I work for a FMCG company at the moment, a global food & beverage brand. However, the competitor intelligence is critical in both industries, even though we are so global. For instance, our customers are quite loyal, however there is always a possibility they could switch to competitor. That is why a personal approach is key. Don’t forget about world of mouth effect and the speed of social media… All news, being them negative or positive spread around in a blink of a second…

      • doubletreecookie
        Jul 05, 2013 @ 18:54:41

        Andrew, hi. I agree with you, social media is a key focus in hospitality at the moment. This blog is actually a part of the training activity I undergo with Hilton. Regards, Alex

  6. Ayse Bilby
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 08:20:43

    Cookies – Favourite brand marketing!!


  7. Elena
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 10:17:38

    i think it’s a great story and for Hilton – a part of a brand story. still it’s not enough to have a cookie, experience that people get in a hotel – is something that make them return, these small signs of welcoming can be a part of building loyalty but still overall experience is important as well as price and location.
    i agree with you that there are times when we are running out of cookies ideas as brands/products become very similar to each other. to me the feeling that hotel is waiting just for you and you’re a dear guest for them is the most important part – and here it’s a lot about getting right people to work in this industry and training them of course
    good luck!


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 05, 2013 @ 18:46:01

      Elena, thank you very much for your comments. You must be travelling a lot as you speak with experience about the hotels. I hope to welcome you one day to one of the Doubletree by Hilton hotels and treat you to our delicious cookie! Thank you, Alex


  8. sarahjdrew
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 17:52:00

    This is a great discussion point Alex – I absolutely love the cookie’s at Doubletree and so do my family when I have the pleasure of taking them with me. To the team members the cookie means many things and I understand it is used in training to promote the element of care for each individual walking through the door. To the guest it means a ‘treat’ and touch point and discussion, a token for their loyalty, which shows perhaps you don’t need to spend a lot to make someone feel valued.


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 05, 2013 @ 18:37:54

      Thank you, Sarah! Nice to see you in my blog and thank you for your comments. The training indeed plays a very important role to ensure that every guest gets the warm cookie on arrival. From the GM’s perspective it is hard to understand why we do not always hit the 100% on “cookies”, but it is not so simple in reality… Kind regards, Alex


  9. doubletreecookie
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 18:59:49

    Happy weekend everyone! The weather in London is hot and looks promising for the next few days!!! Alex


  10. Vera
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 14:00:49

    Hi Alex,
    Most obviously, Hilton invested a lot to brand defferentiation through many years. And it’s 27 years for the cookies – you are most likely to use them in all ways possible – for welcoming guests and as giveaways for the trade. As you say, even its recipe is kept in secret, so the power of the cookie is in consistency. For me, the intrigue is here. Many companies, with a good start, demote high quality service and customer focus, which immediately becomes known to public through media or word of mouth. Deliberately strive for consistency in each and every hotel with keeping them warm and serving them in such extraordinary ways that myths and stories are created about them, myths and stories than can go viral with little or no help from your marketing department, and your blog is a contribution!


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 07, 2013 @ 18:17:05

      Vera, hi! Thank you for your comments and I agree with you regarding the consistency and word of mouth, those are the key for success! Regards, Alex


  11. Anonymous
    Jul 07, 2013 @ 10:52:26

    Hi, Alex! Thanks for cookies.I liked the idea. Galina


  12. Carla Conde Bento
    Jul 07, 2013 @ 11:33:55

    Everyone loves a cake or a cookie 🙂 reminds me my gran-mum and will always give me wish to try every sweet cookie I can because I am myself starting a concept business for alternative biscuits. Did not try the Doubletree Cookie … yet … but will shortly visit Doubletree Tower of London to have a go 🙂

    Each Good Cookie, each memory and Hospitality is about memories!


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 07, 2013 @ 18:18:47

      Thank you, Carla. Without doubts, please come to us to sample the cookie  Alex


  13. Justin Saunders
    Jul 07, 2013 @ 23:13:47

    Alex, really enjoyed reading this blog.

    I find the cookie an interesting concept in the modern, health-conscious world we live in. Whilst many are watching that calorie intake, they always seem to find a few hundred spare calorie intake for the cookie! They are good!

    The cookie represents the warm welcome, but actually perhaps it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s an offering of friendship, of gratitude, of the beginnings of a relationship? So with this in mind, we of course want guests to return, so why not also offer a gift upon check out? A bottle of juice for the road, a snack for the plane etc??


    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 08, 2013 @ 09:55:26

      Justin, hi. Yes, I agree with you regarding the healthy living. The brand is carefully attempting to tackle this potential “cookie threat” by having the healthy alternatives available, such as an apple or other fruits. This is to accommodate guests who may have an allergy or simply want to skip the cookie due to calories.
      And your thoughts about the gift on departure are brilliant! Who knows, maybe this will materialize in something big… Regards, Alex


  14. Natasha K
    Jul 08, 2013 @ 09:23:07

    what an engaging topic for discussion!..
    I have already commented on CookiEmployee section that actually cookies ‘kill two birds in one stone’, by engaging both clients and employees at Hilton. Judging by your blog, you are definately engaged!
    It goes without saying that creating blogs is actually creating word if mouth which means boosting brand awareness. WOM is difficult to measure in fiigures, however it definately works: look at the hit rates on your blog! Almost 300 people around the globe have read a fascinating story about the cookie provided by yourself. Some of my friends didn’t know about this unique ‘augmented product’ at Hilton.
    Answering your question about what would drive me to choose a hotel, it is definately comfort and an excellent service. Little cute things like cookies create a sense of home being far away and leave ‘a step print’ in guests’ memories that would make them tell their friends (create a buzz!) and come back!
    Good luck to your and prosperity to Doubletree by Hilton!



    • doubletreecookie
      Jul 08, 2013 @ 09:44:54

      Dear Natalia, thank you for your comments and I am glad you brought the importance of the employee engagement! It is very important to keep the staff motivated, so that every cookie is followed by the welcoming smile. Many things are connected together in customer service and that is how “the little things make the biggest difference!” Thank you, Alex


  15. Damien
    Jul 09, 2013 @ 14:39:56

    very nice post Alex…
    it also shows how little things can make a great deal of difference in such competitive markets!


  16. Allan
    Jul 10, 2013 @ 17:34:51

    Hi, Alex!
    Love the idea of cookies!!! Great Site!!!


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