Marriott's next step: Promoting its soft brands

The Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa outside of Dubai, one of the resorts featured in Marriott's upcoming campaign.
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

As most in the hotel world would likely agree, the future is all about luxury. And the future of luxury is all about the unique.

To stay competitive, the major players over the past few years have made big moves into the soft-branding arena. They've added collections that enable them to bring popular independent properties into their fold -- and into their loyalty programs.

Marriott scored big with its acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, gaining, along with all of its other brands, Starwood's acclaimed Luxury Collection.

Now, Marriott, which used to be best known for its consistency both in service and property appearance, is flexing its nontraditional-luxury muscle with an ad campaign that underscores the importance it places on the diversity of the properties under its soft brands: The Luxury Collection, Autograph Collection Hotels and Tribute Portfolio.

"Independent hotels are an invaluable part of our portfolio with a long runway for growth," said Tina Edmundson, Marriott's global grand officer and luxury portfolio leader. She said more than 50 independent hotels are expected to join the collections through the end of next year; there currently is about 300 properties among the three soft brands. "We have a tremendous opportunity with guests and locals as well as owners and developers around the world," she added.

The campaign will roll out globally through the end of the year in movie theatres, airplanes and across social media. Marriott says the campaign reinforces the growing demand among today's consumers for the unique.

"Travel has become an important conduit for the way people experience the world; and with the depth and diversity of Marriott International's independent hotel portfolio, we have the unique opportunity to create one-of-a-kind, memorable moments for travelers," said Edmundson.  "While our three collection brands stand strongly on their own, this multifaceted campaign illustrates the alluring power of these 300 stunning, independent properties together."

The campaign was shot on five continents and features urban and resort destinations such as Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa outside of Dubai; Hotel Vagabond in Singapore's arts and  heritage district;  Noelle in downtown Nashville and Palacio de Santa Paula in the historical heart of Granada.

The campaign also seeks to differentiate the soft brands themselves. The Luxury Collection, the company says, represents hotels that define the destination and provide a true luxury experience; while Autograph and Tribute are upper-upscale, lifestyle brands.

Autograph hotels, Marriott said, "are hand-selected for their rich design and immersive stories; while Tribute Portfolio brings together characterful hotels with vibrant social scenes that create a sense of belonging for guests and locals."

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