Marriott International operates more than 3,500 hotel properties worldwide under its portfolio of distinct brands. Its evolving brand lineup, which includes Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott, Renaissance, EDITION, Autograph Collection, Courtyard by Marriott, AC Hotels, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suites, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suites, Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton, ExecuStay, and Grand Residences, has properties that fall in the following tiers: Luxury Tier, Collections Tier, Lifestyle & Boutique Tier, Signature Tier, and Select Service & Extended Stay Tier. Until recently, Marriott used a portfolio approach - or "one size fits all" approach - for its advertising, marketing, and branding efforts across all of its disparate locations, largely owned by independent franchisors. For years, each property was offered the same marketing support from Marriott's corporate office, regardless of location and brand. As a result, each individual property became largely responsible for its own marketing efforts, meaning there was little consistency from location to location, or brand to brand, and many properties did not have the funds to support their own marketing efforts. As customers and their needs changed, Marriott had to create more distinction around its brands. Additionally, Marriott had no easy way to share marketing materials and collateral between its corporate headquarters and its various properties.
As customer attitudes and preferences evolved, Marriott found that their corporate marketing practices needed to change. As a result, the lodging company launched a rebranding effort to break apart its specific target customer segments and tailor its marketing and branding decisions to each unique brand and target market. To complement this shift in strategy, Marriott quickly realized that it needed a better way to share and leverage its marketing assets. In response, Marriott created a user-friendly online portal to manage the creation, distribution, and review of marketing collateral and to support the company's new brand standards.
Marriott International rolled out BrandWorks -- an easy-to-use automated online marketing portal developed by 3rd party vendor, Pica9 -- to their properties worldwide in 2007. The application was developed as a powerful online tool that makes it quick, easy, and cost-effective for properties to create customized marketing materials. Properties, advertising agencies, and marketing managers use the portal to share and/or download stock photography, view brand standards and guidelines, download marketing templates, and create customized marketing collateral using document wizards. Soon after the initial launch in 2007, Marriott enlisted Excella Consulting to provide project management and business analysis support to help facilitate BrandWorks' widespread integration throughout the organization.
With BrandWorks, Marriott was able to hone its marketing strategies to offer each distinct brand different programs and strategies to better appeal to their target audiences (leisure vs. business travelers, for example). Using the integrated portal, the company was able to compile a comprehensive catalog of updated brand guidelines, templates, strategies, materials, and collateral so that promotions and marketing activities could be implemented properly and cost effectively across markets and in international languages.
In the past two years alone, 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. Noting the early success that BrandWorks experienced in Marriott's marketing organization, other parts of the company became intrigued and started to use the corporate portal to fit their own needs. For example Marriott's Human Resources department started to use the portal to house its internal images, presentations, and non-marketing business templates. Even the Food and Beverage unit found value in the portal as it began to store and share menus and information on group sales and event management. What began as a simple database of logos and marketing collateral has evolved into a robust enterprise-wide digital access management system supporting an extensive range of corporate units from operations to legal.
The first iteration of BrandWorks was implemented in 2007 and the platform has continued to grow since then. Most recently, Marriott rolled out a new centralized Offer Management System in BrandWorks. This capability allows properties worldwide to create Marriott Rewards and Non-Rewards offers/deals and promote them on Marriott.com and in various other marketing channels. The Offer Management System also includes the ability to automate workflow and processes enabling users to deliver revenue-generating offers to their customers more rapidly. BrandWorks has built-in capabilities to tailor each offer to a distinct audience, demographic, marketing channel, etc. As a result, Marriott has seen more than three times the amount of offers submitted through the portal than without it. BrandWorks has also 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. In total, Marriott estimates that using automated process has been able to 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 for all of its unique brands and properties into the portal to amplify the buzz around its brands as customers continue to flock to social media to research destinations, lodging options, and make travel plans. Marriott 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.
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.
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