Daily Insights

Hotel Hero Takes the Road Less Travelled

By: Alizah Asif Farooqi | Feb 16, 2021

Marriott paused its media efforts around the world at the height of the pandemic last year. Here’s how it’s making a comeback through marketing.

While many industries have been challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, few faced the level of disruption experienced by the hospitality industry. Travel bans and stay-at-home orders left hospitality marketers uncertain as to how to maintain business as usual and react to the onslaught of consumers racing to cancel plans. Marriott took a step back and re-assessed its strategy by seeking out a partner that could both captivate and comfort the new consumer, and target across mobile, social, and digital mediums effectively. As a result, the company paired up with Verizon Media to develop a “Browse, Shop and Buy” strategy that has helped secure tens of thousands of bookings since its June launch. The target traveller? Road-trippers.

For the campaign, Marriott emphasized both cleanliness and convenience. For example, a “Drive Trip Recommendation” tool offered personalized destination ideas including hotels and rental homes by Marriott across 30 major US cities based on how far users wanted to drive. Clickthrough rates and mobile app engagement escalated beyond expectations. And though many leaders in Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Hotels were quick to pivot their digital content and media strategy to reflect the current environment and keep consumers informed, it wasn’t long before new players came knocking.

Only two brands earned the Genius classification in this year’s Index: Airbnb and Vrbo. The immense reach of these rental providers, combined with their adept digital flexibility, left them poised to react to the pandemic. They also raised the bar for incumbents with sophisticated digital content and the most-used apps in the Index. As a result, their inclusion in the Index had adverse effects on the ranking of historical frontrunners—Marriott International included.

While the journey ahead may not be very long for travelers these days, it’s certainly gotten longer and bumpier for hospitality heroes like Marriott. As foreign trips continue to remain forbidden, taking the road less travelled and looking locally is a sustainable choice for now and beyond the pandemic.