Frontline Marketing

How Marriott Is Marketing Categorically With Relevant Brand Stories To Reach Consumers

Still image of Marriot employee and patrons

By | August 29, 2017 |

Marriott International is doubling down on human connection by debuting a new category marketing approach that’s designed to be a strategic differentiator in connecting consumers and associates with its classic select brands.

The four hotel chains—Courtyard, Fairfield, SpringHill Suites and Four Points—factor for more than one-third of Marriott’s 6,200 properties and will aim at aligning guests to their underlying “Golden Rule” of quality service.

“The public believes that some aspects of the travel experience can sometimes lack humanity. The Golden Rule campaign was developed to show how positive treatment to others can have a ripple effect, and the ever-increasing importance of human connections—especially in today’s hyper-connected digital environment,” Michael Dail, vice president of global brand marketing at Marriott International, told AListDaily. “We see it as a critical evolution of how we can leverage our collective strength to present a more powerful offering to consumers. The results are significant, as the campaign represents new exposure that each brand may not have otherwise seen.”

Dail said the category marketing approach is a strategic shift for the hotel brand, and that the campaign’s emphasis on emotion and the power of humanity is the shake-up society needs.

To leverage large-scale storytelling efforts sharing real-life stories from their associates and guests from properties around the globe, Marriott took to a cross-screen approach that hits all screen sizes with a media plan consisting of cinema, broadcast, in-flight and mobile. Digital-only content will complement the ad spots on both the campaign’s landing page and social media channels.

Outside of Courtyard’s NFL-specific ads, the launch of the campaign will serve as the primetime TV debut for each brand. The campaign also marks the first time all four brands will appear in cinema and Canada.

Dail said that in order to reach consumers in the hospitality industry, Marriott has to go where guests are and through the channels they prefer. With the Golden Rule, it’s doing so with brand-specific campaigns using a variety of paid, earned and owned channels.

“It’s not just about reaching consumers, though,” Dail said. “It’s equally important to have a relevant brand story that will resonate with consumers [. . .] With today’s media landscape, Marriott has to adapt and expand in terms of how we’re reaching our consumers because they’re constantly getting their news and content from multiple platforms like TV, web and social, among others. These brands will remain distinct in their own identity and we’ll continue to do individual marketing campaigns for these brands, but we realize that we’re also stronger when we come together.”

The category marketing is being complemented with a heavy video marketing strategy. Dail said that when they were developing the campaign, they recognized that they had an emotional story that was as much about philosophy as it was about physical products.

“Video is the best way to showcase human interaction,” he said. “We aren’t talking about in-room amenities or thread count, but rather, we’re showing how the most basic human interaction can create a lasting impression for our guests. With these global brands, video serves as a natural medium to transcend language and cultural barriers. The idea of humanity is understood universally.”

From learning sign language to better accommodating guests and picking up a guest when their car breaks down on the way to the hotel, Dail said Marriott designed the messaging to pay tribute to the real-life acts of their associates and highlight how they go beyond expectations.

“Our company’s mission is to be the world’s favorite travel company and with this campaign, we illustrate that each of these brands are equally and wholeheartedly committed to going one step further. It’s not just about making someone’s bed, but taking time to truly make a guest’s day,” Dail said. “This approach translates to a huge impact.”

Marriott, which has a history of reaching consumers through branded entertainment, will be using MLive, the company’s real-time marketing command center, to actively monitor for moments that epitomize the Golden Rule, as well as always monitoring on behalf of the classic select brands and their loyalty programs.

“In being able to connect with guests in real-time through MLive, we recognize and celebrate these moments of positive human interaction among our associates and guests,” Dail said. “These special interactions will become the source for the real-life video content that’ll be posted on our microsite and social channels.”

Dail said there are numerous markets globally where Marriott is leading penetration with its four classic brands. The brands that Marriott has singled out are designed for a variety of trip occasions, be it business travel, family getaways or just individual leisure destination travel.

“What’s great about category marketing is that it allows us to leverage certain channels to market to consumers who are active in the travel-booking process. They become exposed to the campaign through search and digital channels and they then make their travel decisions based on what they’ve already seen,” Dail said. “Right now, the hospitality industry is leveraging the scope of their portfolios, which creates this unique marketing challenge. We as marketers need to ensure our guests and consumers are seeing the diversity among individual brands and what they stand for.”