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Is Marriott the first company to pivot into content marketing and publishing? No way. Are they the first hotel chain to do so? Not necessarily, depending on your definition. But they’re definitely unique in the energy and resources (which, of course, as a corporate property, they have more of than most) that they’re investing in a push billed as an industry breakthrough.
After partnering with the likes of Fast Company, Mashable, and Wired on their “Travel Brilliantly” campaign earlier this year to pair sponsored content with prestige editorial, Marriott now counts itself among businesses transforming into publishing brands. As it turns out, they were just dipping their toe before diving in.
Their September 29 announcement of a new “global studio” says that it will include “content development, production and distribution teams – dedicated to publishing, distributing, and sharing digital and filmed content across film, television, online, digital, and print distribution platforms.”
Marriott is making things happen lately, and we admire that in a business.
They’re trying “discreet” tipping envelopes for housekeepers (eh – while we’re happy to tip, we’d rather the chain compensate staff with better salaries rather than awkwardly putting the onus on guests) and testing healthy vending machines (totally awesome). Now comes word that they’re pursuing the opportunity “to be the world’s largest producer of travel-related content,” as Vice President of Creative David Beebe told AdWeek.
Regardless of how these efforts turn out, Marriott is setting a strong example for companies continually finding themselves in a position to respond to trends – by getting ahead of them.
And with their global studio, Marriott International is doing something we admire so much that we help businesses do it every day: Taking control of their narrative and telling their own story.
In the past five years, spurred by the emergence of social media as perhaps the dominant force in society, the world as we know it has turned into one big platform. This phenomenon was driven by individuals, and now companies are catching up at warp speed. But success in this new model demands more than just a social media presence: It requires high-quality blog content campaigns and original multimedia.
[Tweet “The world as we know it is one big platform. Companies are catching up at warp speed.”]
Think of your own competition. It’s fierce, right? Airlines – and who knew how ahead of their time they were with in-flight magazines – like to thank us for traveling with them amid so many other choices. The cruel joke, especially after a five-hour delay and bumpy landing, is that there simply aren’t so many other choices. But for service providers, local retailers, and niche companies, this concept is a cold, hard reality. Customers and clients do have so many other choices. In some segments, those choices are countless.
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(Trust me, I hope I’m alive to see the day when certain legacy carriers face this same challenge. Maybe Sir Richard Branson can launch a few more fleets before he retires.)
As Some Companies Lose the Plot, Publishing Brands Find Theirs
Business as usual no longer cuts it. Consumers want more out of brands to help inform their choices. They want stories.
So, how is Marriott International responding?
While you might not find a SpringHill Suites Dispatch under your hotel room door anytime soon, the company is doubling down on content and owned media. “As the largest hotel chain in the world, Marriott aims to leverage its expertise on travel,” writes AdWeek’s Michelle Castillo. “Similar to the approach that Red Bull and GoPro take with action sports, Marriott wants to own the travel entertainment space – and, in turn, gain the recognition as a trusted source for all travel needs.”
[blockquote who=”” cite=”” align=”left”]”Marriott has signed a stable of exclusive talent from the online space, including Sonia Travel’s Sonia Gil, stunt team Substance Over Hype, social media news purveyors What’s Trending and comedian Taryn Southern. Shows in development include Renaissance Hotels’ indie music performance series The Navigator Live; action-comedy stunt show Two Bellmen; and Web series Marriott Rewards’ Year of Surprises, which will honor people in the community for their contributions to society. Online series will be broadcast on Marriot.com and Marriot Mobile and through Marriott Rewards and other media channels like YouTube.”[/blockquote]
All of this is on top of the digital print content Marriott is already deploying with the help of noted travel writers and travel company executives, as well as with crowd-sourced contributions from social media users.
Taking the lead on travel entertainment won’t be easy, but the greatest tourists know that trips only get going when you cease being a passenger and start taking part. And taking risks. Trying everything.
In the face of proliferating options for guests, Marriott is doing all of this and more. Why? Because customers no longer need to score points with hotels to get good rates, thanks to booking sites like Hotels.com and fantastic alternative short-term personal lodging resources like Airbnb. Now, hotels need to score points with customers to stay competitive.
What do you think of the Marriott and its new multiplatform studio project? Do you number yourself among publishing brands? Do you have the in-house resources to produce your own content? Let us know in the comments!