I recently had an interesting online discussion with Scott Allison, Regional Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Marriott Canada, about a comment I made at an Online Revealed Regional show we held in Toronto earlier this month.Â In my discussion about new media channels such as Social Media and Blogging, and how to apply them to the marketing strategy of a brand – I stated that I was not convinced that a Blog was the best play for a brand like Marriott.Â Â
Bill Marriott entered the Blogosphere in January of 2007 with much fanfare from the media, and he also caused quite a stir within the Blogging community.Â The initial buzz resulted in articles such as this in the Washington Post which speculated about the purpose of the Blog, and whether or not it was a legitimate forum – or one produced by a really good PR team.
During my New Media discussion at the Online Revealed show, I was discussing the effectiveness of a channel such as a Blog from the perspective of the blogosphere in general.Â I was discussing how users interact and navigate through channels such as Blogs, where the rules of engagement are much different than a traditional marketing vehicle such as a website.Â Typically Blogs (until this point) have not been commercial spaces from a user perspective. (or not obviously commercial anyway).Â I referred to Mr. Marriottâ€™s Blog as something that was not necessarily a good example of a successful Blog.
Well, it seems that Mr. Marriott has forged onward since the Blogs inception, and created a space whereby he can communicate with his customers on a global level, share his experiences, and generate some publicity for the hotel brand giant, as Scott Allison pointed out to me through an online discussion over email.Â As he had heard of my comments, he immediately reached out to challenge my opinion, and point out the successes of the Blog from a brand perspective.Â Of course I welcomed the dialogue!
Mr. Allisonâ€™s comments were very valid and included the following points:
â€œEven our competitors have acknowledged the blog as a competitive win for Marriott.Â Â Not only has it provided a great channel for customers, it also allows him to very personally communicate things that are important to him. The blog has also encouraged Marriott to expand the initiative to other Marriott executives including our corporate executive chef.â€Â
Marriott Recently launched a new Blog authored by Marriott Internationalâ€™s Vice President, Culinary and Corporate – Chef Brad Nelson â€œMarriott in the Kitchen â€“ Food, Travel, Thoughts.â€Â This blog is quite impressive and not as obvious with the Marriott brand messages.Â Chef Nelsonâ€™s posts discuss events he attends, food writers he meets, recipes of course â€“ and his travels.
Mr Allison pointed out some additional points in defending the merits of the Marriott branded Blog:
â€œBecause Bill Marriott believes that he is first a foremost a hotelier, one of the side benefits has been the buzz generated by people who blog with him, and then link to a page to make a reservation – revenue from people who came through what wasn’t originally intended as a booking channel.Â
The fact that Marriott remains a family business, rooted in a rich culture of looking after our associates so that they in turn look after our customers is a unique to Marriott. No other leader in the hotel industry has Bill Marriott’s credibility and experience from the ground up – he worked in food & beverage operations growing up.Â Â Fortunately many people read his blog and interact with us through this exciting channel, and it has definitely contributed to shifting traffic to the brand site with 80% of e-commerce being transacted on Marriott.com.â€Â
Mr. Alison finished off with the following sentiment, of which I would definitely agree with.
â€œBill Marriott continues to be the most eloquent spokesperson for our brand, whatever the channel.â€Â
Well Scott â€“ I canâ€™t argue with you!Â It does seems that Mr. Marriott has taken on this medium with the commitment and tone it requires – and he is engaging discussions with Marriott team members, customers, bloggers and media alike.Â
If then we are referring to the success of the Blog as a marketing vehicle, and as a successful and true â€œBlogâ€ â€“ I would now have to agree that Bill Marriottâ€™s â€œMarriott on the Moveâ€ just might qualify as a great success!
[tags]Marriott blog, blogging, social media, Marriott on the move, new media, chef blog, hotel marketing, e-commerce[/tags]