June 24, 2021
Hospitality group Marriott International is highlighting the transformative power of travel in a global, multichannel campaign centered around its extensive loyalty program.
With the surge in travel demand as the COVID-19 pandemic slows in the United States and Europe, the Marriott Bonvoy campaign emphasizes the personal and spiritual connections that are fostered while traveling. The loyalty program and marketplace, revamped in 2019 (see story), covers 30 hotel brands, including the luxury flagships Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis.
“Marriott Bonvoy represents more than a loyalty program – it has evolved into an immersive and inclusive travel platform designed to bring to life Marriott International’s extraordinary portfolio of global brands while also providing endless inspiration for members,” said Tina Edmundson, global brand and marketing officer at Marriott International, Washington. “Our dynamic luxury portfolio creates a huge loyalty lure, and we know that affluent consumers value loyalty programs built on shared passions and interests.”
Power of travel
Marriott Bonvoy’s campaign asks consumers one direct question: “Where can we take you?” The tagline reinforces the different purposes of travel, from escape to discovery.
“We see Marriott Bonvoy as the thread that ties our brands together, and we want to take it beyond just earning and redeeming points,” Ms. Edmundson said. “We want to use our loyalty program to bring together like-minded travelers and create a real community that is centered around values, validation and human connection.”
For a global reach, the “Power of Travel” campaign began rolling out in the U.S. and Canada on June 23, and will soon launch in China, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Caribbean, Latin America, Japan, South Korea and more. It will run for several months, across television, streaming, in-flight entertainment, digital, mobile, social media and out-of-home placements.
Marriott Bonvoy shows how destinations can be literal and metaphorical
The campaign includes two films, which have been edited into 15-second, 30-second and 60-second versions. The ads will air on television, with special attention to major sporting events including Wimbledon, the NBA Finals, the Olympics and, in the fall, Monday Night Football.
Marriott worked with its creative agency of record, 72andSunny Los Angeles, to help concept and design the campaign.
Director duo “Hoffman / Metoyer” filmed the spots, which include scenes from Barcelona’s Le Méridien Ra Beach Hotel & Spa and The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Los Angeles. The brand also tapped photographer Tom Craig to shoot still imagery in London and Crete, Greece, underscoring Marriott’s global presence.
However, the films only briefly reference Marriott Bonvoy’s expansive brand portfolio, focusing on the spirit of travel rather than specific properties or destinations.
“While there is a communications strategy to elevate our luxury portfolio as the preferred operator in the space, this campaign’s sentiment on the transformative power of travel touches the entire global portfolio which encompasses all 30 of Marriott Bonvoy's leading brands, including our luxury portfolio, as well as endless experiences,” Ms. Edmundson said.
The sentimental spots also reflect Marriott’s values, with diversity in age, race, ethnicity, skin tones, sexual orientation and religion, sometimes signified through cultural cues and wardrobe choices.
In the videos, travelers are seen reuniting with families, taking adventurous risks and enjoying other moments of discovery.
“In the year ahead, we will see travel that is focused on meaningful exploration and reconnection, whether with one’s self or loved ones,” Ms. Edmundson said. “I believe we will also see a focus on destinations that offer access to nature and space, while people are going to adapt an ‘act now’ mentality towards travel, no longer waiting to take that bucket list trip.”
The content hub Marriott Bonvoy Traveler has also debuted a new editorial series, “How to Travel Better,” featuring articles on regenerative experiences, sustainable trips, advice for mindful tourism and more.
Additionally, Marriott Bonvoy is making a push for younger consumers by launching on video platform TikTok and introducing Snapchat AR filters. On TikTok, the brand will leverage the app’s popular sound-sharing behavior to encourage users to share their own travel memories to the campaign’s inspirational mantra.
In another first, Marriott Bonvoy is collaborating with visual search platform Pinterest on interactive out-of-home placements in New York. The installations will run several weeks, using Pinterest’s real-time trends and technology to inspire consumers to book with Marriott.
“Innovation has always been at the core of our marketing strategies,” Ms. Edmundson said. “We believe in the transformative power of travel and these social executions are our way of bringing our members and guests into the story, seeking out their stories and making it personal.”
While many consumers are eager to return to travel, luxury travelers in particular have seen their priorities shift.
According to the Global Travel Trends Report from American Express, 61 percent of travelers are planning to spend more on their 2021 trips than they normally would. Luxury accommodations have become more desirable as well, as consumers seek to balance unique experiences with privacy.
Personalized experiences are the most desirable luxury offering, as cited by 82 percent of respondents. The majority of travelers also described high cleanliness standards, 81 percent, and privacy, 79 percent, as in-demand luxury amenities (see story).
As travel interest returns, Marriott also continues to debut new properties across its portfolio, including luxury brands.
Among these is the group’s first luxury brand property in Bermuda with the opening of a new St. Regis Hotels & Resorts. Located in the town of St. George, a UNESCO World heritage site, the St. Regis Bermuda resort offers luxurious and elegant accommodations and amenities, including its signature butler service, to help travelers experience the ultimate island escape (see story).
“We are seeing demand for a new level of bespoke service and a guest experience that is more personalized and curated, and the expectation of things such as greater choice, additional personal space and more private experiences means that luxury travel has been permanently elevated,” Marriott’s Ms. Edmundson said. “The pandemic has only reinforced a fundamental shift taking place across luxury consumer values.
“It is a move towards experiences that prioritize happiness and well-being over high-end goods, with the concept of luxury as a status symbol being replaced by that of a status experience.”