How Marriott Got Marketing Right

By Steven Brier Print this article Print

What began as a simple database of logos and marketing collateral has evolved into a robust enterprise-wide marketing automation system.

Marriott International operates more than 3,500 hotel properties worldwide under its portfolio of brands. Our evolving lineup includes brands such as Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Edition, Autograph Collection and Courtyard by Marriott, among others. Our properties fall into the following tiers: luxury, collections, lifestyle and boutique, signature, and select service and extended stay.

Until recently, Marriott used a portfolio—or “one size fits all”—approach for our advertising, marketing and branding efforts across disparate locations, which are owned, for the most part, by independent franchisers. For years, each property was offered the same marketing support from our corporate office, regardless of location and brand.

As a result, each property became largely responsible for its own marketing efforts, meaning there was little consistency from location to location, or brand to brand. In addition, many properties did not have the funds to support their own marketing efforts. To make matters worse, we had no easy way to share marketing materials and collateral between our corporate headquarters and our various properties.

As customer attitudes and preferences evolved, we found that our corporate marketing practices needed to change. Consequently, we launched a rebranding effort to tailor our marketing and branding decisions for each unique brand and target market.

To complement this shift in strategy, we needed a better way to share and leverage our marketing assets. In response, we 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.

Rolling Out BrandWorks

Marriott International rolled out BrandWorks, our easy-to-use, automated online marketing portal, to our properties worldwide in 2007. The portal, developed by Pica9, uses Dell hardware hosting a Linux server that runs Debian 5.0. It runs an Apache 2.0 Web server and PHP 5.3, with PostgreSQL as the database.

The application was developed as an online tool that makes it quick, easy and cost-effective for our 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 launch, we enlisted Excella Consulting to provide project management and business analysis support to help facilitate BrandWorks’ widespread integration throughout our organization. Excella Con-sulting assessed Marriott’s corporate environment and implemented agile practices across the BrandWorks team.

Excella’s consultants determined that the agile approach—to build, roll out incrementally, prove value as you go along and then gain support—was best suited for Marriott’s blended information technology and business operations environment. The consulting firm also implemented a Microsoft SharePoint solution to manage our product backlog.

With BrandWorks, we honed our marketing strategies to offer each of our distinct brands different programs and strategies to better appeal to its target audiences: leisure versus business travelers, for example. Using the integrated portal, we compiled a comprehensive catalog of updated brand guidelines, templates, strategies, materials and collateral so that our promotions and marketing activities could be implemented properly and cost-effectively across our markets and in international languages. 

This article was originally published on 2012-01-17
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