Marriott International, Inc. has been a leader in the hospitality space for more than 80 years by listening to what customers want and staying attuned to their behavior. This has led to innovative developments, including some full-blown transformations, at Marriott’s more than 4,100 properties spanning nearly 79 countries and territories across the globe.
Reflection: An Important Component of Marketing Planning
Yes Lifecycle Marketing has partnered with Marriott Rewards®, Marriott’s loyalty program, to ensure that innovation continues in their email marketing initiatives. In early summer 2014, as part of the Yesmail Strategy team’s Q4 planning, they conducted a historical analysis of Marriott Rewards’ email program performance from Q4 in both 2013 and 2012 and identified content and communication opportunities in the marketing plan for that upcoming quarter.
The team found that bookings were consistently lower in the month of December suggesting a seasonal travel trend. Furthermore, email communications sent in December generated the lowest click rates and the least revenue out of any month in both 2012 and 2013. However, open rates remained steady throughout Q4, including December, indicating members were still showing interest in hearing from Marriott Rewards.
While some thought December was a month to pull back on messaging due to low bookings, Yes Lifecycle Marketing recommended Marriott Rewards take a novel approach to its holiday email marketing program. Instead of advertising promotional offers as they typically would, Marriott Rewards was advised to focus on boosting engagement through member-centric, value-added content. This approach would enable Marriott Rewards’ communications to stand out among the typical holiday shopping clutter and competitive messaging. For further relevancy, the content and communication strategy was fueled by leveraging end-of-year consumer trends, cultural zeitgeist, and program timing.
Program in Review
Email has been one of the most successful vehicles for Marriott Rewards to maintain an active and relevant conversation with members. Since partnering with Yes Lifecycle Marketing, Marriott Rewards has expanded its lifecycle communications to further engage and retain customers. In addition to increasing the volume of emails, Marriott Rewards has focused on incorporating personalized and editorially curated content in messages to enrich the member experience. Based on Yes Lifecycle Marketing’s strategic guidance, Marriott Rewards launched an integrated program with an overarching “Year in Review” storyline in December 2014. Its objective was two-fold:
- Thank members for their loyalty, recapping milestones they accomplished in 2014
- Inspire program participation in 2015, driving loyalty through booking
Marriott Rewards launched a multi-touch program with a combination of focused Year in Review emails and dedicated Year in Review sections in its other ongoing standard messages throughout December. This ensured brand consistency and high frequency support of the program. Marriott Rewards introduced the Year in Review program through its flagship monthly newsletter, which typically:
- Features personalized account status information, updates, and content triggered by program lifecycles
- Educates members on the loyalty program and its brand portfolio
- Provides helpful and delightful curated content such as tips and recommendations on visiting world-class cities
Then, Marriott Rewards used an annual message from Bill Marriott, Jr., Former CEO and now Chairman of the company, to express gratitude towards its members and highlight the offerings the company rolled out in 2014.
Marriott Rewards later incorporated Year in Review modules in other communications, which reinforced the gratitude and program review elements that were critical components of the Year in Review concept.