Arne Sorenson is a busy man. As the CEO of Marriott International, he’s making a lot of decisions about the future of what will be the biggest hotel brand in the world once the acquisition of Starwood is complete. How will he find cost savings to deliver to stakeholders? Which brands will live on, and which might disappear? What will happen to rewards points? Sorenson faces a lengthy list of questions, but when he was in Vancouver for Convening Leaders 2016, he was thinking about an unlikely question: how will the premiere of the new Marriott short film go?
Yes, you read that correctly. He wasn’t just thinking about a new hotel opening, although Marriott opens the equivalent of approximately two properties each day. Instead, he was thinking about Marriott’s new motion picture, which features a list of stars who have appeared in everything from “General Hospital” to “Wayne’s World.” It’s called “Business Unusual”, and it was filmed at the recently renovated Renaissance Chicago Downtown.
Wait, you might say, Marriott filmed a movie? Actually, the global hotelier has now filmed three movies, and they have gained some serious traction online. “Two Bellmen”, filmed at the JW Marriott LA LIVE, has more than five million views on YouTube, and “French Kiss”, filmed in Paris, has racked up more than six million views. These are full-scale productions— not promotional, look-at-this-property videos. With compelling storylines and notable stars, the Marriott movie catalog can make anyone ask one question: why is a hotel investing so much in making movies? Well, you’ve probably already heard the answer: content is king.
When Mel Robbins, CNN anchor and author, asked Sorenson what he believes meeting planners should focus on in their conversation at Convening Leaders, Sorenson said there is one key to creating excitement around an event or a hotel property.
“Content is more important than anything else by far,” Sorenson said. “Be focused on making sure your content is powerful enough that attendees leave saying, ‘I could not have missed that.’”
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It’s clear that Sorenson is taking his own advice to heart at Marriott. The Marriott content clearly aims to appeal to the coveted young generation of prospective guests. As Millennial and Generation Z travelers consider other hotels and alternative lodging options, Marriott is hoping that this strategy will earn their trust. “We are a media company now,” David Beebe, Vice President of Global Creative, Marriott, told Contently in an interview. “You can’t argue with the fact that people aren’t engaging with traditional [advertising] and this is the way to do it.”
Marriott isn’t just parting ways with traditional promotional tactics. The hotelier also partnered with PCMA to fuel ideas for the new era of meetings and conventions. Check out the results below.