Why Marriott Bets on Video


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For Marriott, the name of the game is “experience.” And that’s why it’s turning its gaze to the many possibilities in using video.

Brands have used the moving image to create an emotional connection with customers for decades. We call them commercials. But in the digital realm, video marketing hasn’t yet matured. We can all recall our favorite commercials growing up, but we’d be hard pressed to recall a brand’s online video.

Drawing from an ethnographic research study that Marriott recently conducted with Tremor Video, MEC and Sonic Rim, Brian King, Marriott’s global brand officer, stressed that marketers now need to deliver more than just brand messages. They need to deliver experiences – and video is the way to do it. King concluded there are three important attributes of video that will help define the future of advertising: co-creation, authenticity and serendipitous discovery.

As millennials enter adulthood, they’re still keeping close with their parents — whether that’s taking Mom and Dad to work with them or going on vacation together. Parents are also recognizing that their older children can be used as research assistants, as the kids are more often tech savvy. Parents filter the knowledge the kids find and apply their wisdom to their decision-making process.

For marketers, King argues, this means expanding opportunities to help families discover products or experiences. King’s own nephew, for example, follows his travels through various social channels. On a recent trip to Hong Kong, the nephew saw that King ate sushi. King’s nephew then went to YouTube to learn about sushi and asked his mom to have it for dinner. King said with this exchange, “we co-created an amazing experience between us and the rest of family.”

“Brand mind-control days are over,” King said. “This generation wants to understand the story behind the story.”

Because of social platforms and websites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, travelers are much smarter about where they’re staying. This means more work for the marketer, King said, as marketers now need to personalize not only experiences but also messages and interactions.

“People are increasingly drawn to stories on video and guest posting experiences on hotels,” King said. “I don’t think the brands can hide in the averages anymore. There’s a professional consumer out there. Their public network will praise or punish if you don’t perform for them.”

King said the study found that people don’t mind being tracked if the experience is enhanced. The worry for marketers, however, is about coming across as too creepy. He said video ads are where technology dovetails most closely with serendipity.

For example, let’s say you book a flight to Chicago, heading to a Marriott. Marriott will start serving up branded recommendations for things to do in Chicago — restaurants, sporting events, concerts. By the time you get to your room, you will have been served up customized, personalized content rooted in your preferences. In 2010, Marriott started offering suggestions for drinks, dining and shopping on its websites and app based on data from Wcities, a content provider, and recommendations from hotel employees. Earlier this year, Marriott added consumer tips to this program. Content is delivered by video, mobile and social.

“Effective advertising expands people’s frame of reference of not just what’s possible, but what’s probable,” King said. “It’s the closest you can get to being there without being there.”

Image via Shutterstock

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