Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

April 11 2016

See How The New JW Marriott Austin Is Helping Redefine The Marriott Brand

Jeanna Hofmeister


Achieving success in a competitive hotel industry is about more than a robust rewards program. It’s about finding a new generation of customers and showing them how your product fits their wants, needs or desires. That’s why Marriott is using the hip and eclectic Austin vibe to amplify their brand to a younger audience. “The JW and Renaissance brands are being specifically designed now with the Millennial in mind,” says Damon Bell, Director of Sales & Marketing for the JW Marriott Austin. “We want to engage and interact with that audience.” With that goal in mind, Marriott’s first-ever major sponsorship of the recent SXSW Music festival made perfect sense.

Streaming The Energy of SXSW Worldwide

During SXSW, Marriott Rewards partnered with Twitter’s Periscope live-streaming app to deliver entertainment from the Music is Universal SXSW® showcase to music fans worldwide. Utilizing one of the first-ever dual-camera live streams on the app, Marriott Rewards, through its partnership with Universal Music Group (UMG), provided unfiltered and exclusive access to performances. And, to truly give fans worldwide a SXSW experience, Marriott Rewards hosted Twitter polls that even let the public decide which songs would be broadcast on Periscope.

Cranking Up The Volume



Marriott and UMG also created a first-of-its-kind experience, taking over areas of the JW Marriott Austin during SXSW. The hotel’s event spaces featured performances by Grammy-nominee Ryan Adams and the critically-acclaimed Avett Brothers, along with daily showcases of other artists. To leverage the benefits of the Marriott Rewards program, members were granted special access to those concerts by showing their member number on the Marriott Mobile app to gain entry, even if they didn’t they have SXSW badges — a huge benefit in the are-you-on-the-list landscape of Austin in March.

Getting Social

“It took two full time people just to manage all the comments and questions on Twitter,” says Bell. “We were engaged on all the social media channels every minute during SXSW.” The hotel dedicated one full-time staff person, and they also had a second staffer from Marriott International to manage the thousands of Tweets from people asking directions, raving about the concerts and commenting on the hotel. The Austin property features “best in class” technology, another sign they’re serious about reaching a younger audience. They also offer a number of apps to simplify everything from check in to meeting services.

Going Gourmet All Year Long

While the JW Marriott is leveraging Austin’s reputation for rock and roll, the city is also distinguishing itself as a culinary leader — not just during SXSW, either. To capitalize on the food fame, the hotel created dining outlets that felt and tasted authentically Austin. “We wanted to operate restaurants that feel like you’re going out to eat in Austin – ones that don’t feel like you’re in a hotel,” says Bell. Sure, the hotel features the newly opened OP Wine Bar and authentic Italian fine dining restaurant, along with the requisite Starbucks. However, two of the hotel’s eateries break the “hotel mold”.

The Burger Bar on Congress, as you’d imagine, serves local Texas beef burgers, fries and milkshakes – but in food-truck-style, with an outdoor, walk-up window that proved a huge hit during SXSW. Corner, recently named one of  Austin’s Top 15 hottest new bars and restaurants, offers authentic Texas cuisine with an indoor and outdoor bar, relaxed vibe and jean-wearing servers sporting tattoos. But being a Marriott, there are tattoo rules. The servers at Corner have their own corporate dress-code.

New, With An Eye Toward The Future

The JW Marriott Austin offers a slew of cool attributes that complement the hotel’s traditional great business amenities. Having just opened last year, the 1,000+ room property continues to evolve in an effort to capitalize on the convention/meetings market. But, with Austin ranked as the fourth-largest leisure market in US according to Condé Nast, the leisure focus plays a key role in attracting meeting attendees to book more pre- and post-convention vacations.

Incentive travelers, too, should keep their sights on this evolving property. An upgrade to the existing 6,000 sq. ft. rooftop Congress Terrace will make it a blank canvas for upscale outdoor functions, while the rooftop pool bar gets a full-service makeover.  Plans for a high-end luxury spa are soon to be unveiled.

Discover more about Austin’s live music scene, and the why the JW Marriott Austin could be your next best meeting venue.

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