Marriott Hotels’ content marketing model ensures a long stay

Marriott Hotels’ social media monitoring innovation and branded content creation is making waves around the world, connecting the brand with the next generation of travellers – Millennials. Here’s how their content delights their media audience, further boosting their brand loyalty.

 Marriott – owner of the Protea and African Pride group locally – has adopted the concept of branded content to the nth degree, firstly by introducing M Live hubs around the word in 2014. This platform lets the group monitor and react to social media posts, trends and online bookings as they happen, so successfully that Marriott has since declared itself ‘a media company’. Dubbed real-time command centres, there are now four M Live hubs across the globe, with a fifth set to open in Hong Kong this November.

 The best part is that it’s not just the hotel brand’s social media team feverishly creating content that only extolls the hotel chain’s virtues. Contently reports that the hubs are genuinely making money, and the initial team members definitely know what they’re doing as they started at the Walt Disney Company. As a result, they create content that’s relevant and resonates with their intended audience of savvy young global travellers. The mix includes a successful TV show, The Navigator Live, as well as a personalised online travel magazine, and experiments with virtual reality through Oculus Rift, the ultimate in experiential marketing.

 That’s very strong emphasis on the concept of ‘branded content creation’ for today’s increasingly ad-averse younger generation. Take The Two Bellmen, for example. Running for just over 17-minutes, this looks and feels like a movie, with opening credits that state it’s created by JW Marriott, much like those roaring lion intros we’re used to seeing as we settle down to munch some popcorn as the lights dim. It’s utterly entertaining because it’s not that ‘voice-over tour highlighting the hotel city’s features’ you’d expect, as spoofed by South Park in season 19’s ‘The City Part of Town’ episode. Instead, we watch two competing hotel bellmen – Christian and Gage – swagger through a day in the life of a job one loves and the other merely sees as a means to an end, all played out on the grounds of the luxurious LA Live JW Marriott Hotel.

 Top and tail content branding

 Dubbed “an action-comedy” from Marriott Content Studios, it sees the bellmen prove their company loyalty when the hotel comes under siege by The Purple Panthers, who we learn are the most notorious smash and-grab art thieves, played by some of Hollywood’s biggest stunt names while spinning in elements of parkour, martial arts, dance and music action. That’s it. No branding or imposing shots of the hotel grounds, just pure entertainment with a line in the end credits stating: “Get the best rate guaranteed when you book direct on Marriott.com,” with links to their social media channels.

This format proved so successful that Two Bellmen Two, released earlier this year, has already racked up over 7 million views. It’s branded content that puts you right in the life of its focus characters, with a new venue to keep things fresh – our heroes are now based at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai. This time, the 19-minute romp through the desert ends with the line: “Want to follow the Two Bellmen way? Book the Two Bellmen Two package at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai.”

 Fresh, funny, and entertaining it plays on the prevailing Millennial culture of FOMO without an obvious hard sell. That’s why it works.

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