For years Marriott International employed a “one size fits all” approach for its marketing efforts across its diverse portfolio of brands. Marriott operates more than 3,500 hotel properties worldwide, largely owned by independent franchisors, under such brands as JW Marriott, Renaissance, and Courtyard by Marriott, among others. Maintaining consistency in advertising, marketing, and branding materials across its thousands of international properties was a challenge.
Each individual property was largely responsible for its own marketing efforts - there was little consistency and many properties did not have the funds to support their own programs. As customer needs changed, Marriott created more distinction around its brands, which likewise required highly customized marketing materials. To complement this shift in strategy, Marriott created BrandWorks, a user-friendly online portal that supports each property's diverse marketing needs through the creation, distribution, and review of marketing collateral.
Marriott International partnered with Pica9 (www.pica9.com) and Excella Consulting (www.excella.com) to first roll out BrandWorks as an automated marketing portal to their properties worldwide in 2007. The portal was developed as a powerful online tool that makes it quick, easy, and cost-effective for users to create customized marketing materials. Properties, advertising agencies, and marketing managers were given the capabilities to share materials, view brand standards and guidelines, download marketing templates, and create customized marketing collateral using document wizards all within the system.
The platform has continued to grow since its first iteration four years ago. With BrandWorks, Marriott has been able to hone its marketing strategies to offer each distinct brand different strategies to better appeal to their target audiences.
Today, the application allows properties to create highly customized pieces, and the tool supports 27 different languages. Using the integrated portal, the company is able to maintain a comprehensive catalog of updated brand guidelines, templates, strategies, materials, and collateral, so that promotions and marketing activities can be implemented properly and cost effectively across markets and in international languages.
Adding up the Savings
In 2011 alone, BrandWorks produced 18,500 documents and saved Marriott and its owners an estimated $9.2 million in marketing agency costs (based on an avearge cost of $500 per piece for outside marketing support). In the past two years, Marriott has experienced a 186 percent increase in total user logins while, more than doubling the amount of assets available in and documents created through the portal. BrandWorks has enabled Marriott to be increasingly targeted in its offers by presenting its Marriott Rewards members (who account for 60 percent of Marriott’s total revenue) with the best, most relevant offers at any given time.
Recently, BrandWorks rolled out a new component, the Offer Management System, to allow properties worldwide to create Marriott Rewards and Non-Rewards offers and promote them through their various marketing channels seamlessly. Marriott estimates that using automated processes has cut the time it takes to bring an offer to market by close to 25 percent.
Marriott has future plans to integrate social media strategies into the portal for all of its unique brands and properties to amplify buzz as customers continue to flock to social media to research destinations, lodging options, and make travel plans. The company is also in the process of implementing built-in tracking capabilities to report on promotional programs and automate analyses to identify which offers, programs, and marketing campaigns are most successful.
Noting the early success that BrandWorks experienced in Marriott’s marketing organization, other parts of the company have started to use the corporate portal to fit their own needs. Beyond its more obvious applications, BrandWorks has enabled Marriott to improve information sharing and collaboration among its global locations and corporate teams.
Internal users can report on total logins, the number of documents and assets currently in the system based on brand and category, the number of offers created and disseminated through each channel, and can recall usage data to inform marketing budgeting. It allows Marriott to determine what tools to activate for each brand and audience to deliver a better customer experience, educate its global properties on brand voice, ensure consistency across locations and languages, and enable executives to make better decisions through direct and immediate access to valuable customer service and marketing data.
Steven Brier is a Senior Manager in the Field Marketing Support team at Marriott International, located in Bethesda, Maryland. Steven is responsible for providing marketing support to 14 brands which make up 3,600 hotels in 71 countries and territories. Currently, he is primarily responsible for the strategic planning, development, support and oversight of the BrandWorks application. Prior to Marriott, Steven held marketing positions at Washington Gas, Verizon Communications and Intelsat, Ltd. He holds a Bachelors degree in Marketing from Colorado State University.