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How Marriott delivers seamless, consumer-first experiences

NEW YORK – A Marriott executive at the MMA Mobile Marketing Leadership Forum explained how the hotel company broke down media silos for a people-first attitude and discovered that 30 percent of attribution was bleeding away by not looking at cross-device numbers.

During the session, Changing the Center of Gravity, the executive detailed how the company eradicated segmented silos and the traditional advertise-at strategy, and instead put the point of view of the consumer in focus to provide more relevant and helpful experiences. As part of this strategy, Marriott is leveraging Facebook and dynamic ads, and is using data to steer its marketing decisions to where the numbers are most effective.

“We are inundated,” said Andy Kauffman, vice president of digital marketing and
at Marriott International. “Most of you are on your laptop and your phones, you are trying and doing a great job of multitasking because the world is inundating us with emails, Facebook posts, Tweets and Snapchatting.

“This is having a real effect on consumers but it is a real opportunity for marketers if we put them in the center of things,” he said. “Our head of creative and content studio has a quote I really like, ‘we must stop interrupting what people are interested in, and become what they are interested in.’

“As a marketer, this is a hard transition because you want to believe that what you want to say is what everyone wants to hear. It is a hard realization when you recognize that you do not, that typically rears its head in bad click-through rates and conversion.”

While many experts have been discussing the breakdown of silos, many have yet to actually put these words into action. Marriott has accomplished this and instead of taking a mobile-first approach, is following what it calls a people-first strategy.

The goal is to make sure that the customer experience is consistent amongst all channels, offline and online. For instance, in the past, search, display and other marketing segments were different departments within Marriott.

Now, the brand is taking a holistic look at all of that to create a seamless customer journey. Consumers do not look at brands in these different silos; they look at the brand as a whole, which means marketers need to weave a completely consistent experience.

For instance, the brand introduced a mobile messaging platform that allowed a two-way conversation with on-site employees and users, after noticing that consumers were interested in talking with personnel through an application rather than in person.

Dynamic and data
The executive noted that Marriott was the first travel brand to take advantage of Facebook’s dynamic product ads and that it uses the feature to create relevant ads that provide a benefit for both companies. For instance, users scrolling on Facebook are served with relevant advertisements with specific hotels and real-time prices, which provides a helpful and seamless experience to consumers.

Marriott also looks at data to help drive marketing pushes and decisions, instead of the opinion of high-up personnel. This makes for a more effective strategy with better results.

“Moving from a world where we no longer have to guess we actually know what you want today,” Mr. Kauffman said. “This may seem obvious but doing this is hard and doing this at scale is even harder.

“So as marketers, we are fundamentally changing our approach and if we do not, we will become irrelevant because our consumers will turn us off.”