Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

See How Constant Evolution Is Key To Reaching Customers At This New Austin Hotel


Two plus years and $300 million dollars later, the largest JW Marriott in the country opened in Austin in February of 2015. With a powerhouse brand like Marriott behind them, lots of hotels might rely on the “wow/newest/biggest” factor to build bookings in the first year or two. But in Austin, a city where you’d expect something different, the new JW Marriott has been transforming their hotel and their guest experience since the day they opened their doors.

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Connecting with guests on social media isn’t new. The Marriott app has been around for a while now. But in Austin, the hotel has a dedicated staffer whose fulltime job is to connect with guests via social media. Sure guests can request the standards like shampoo and toothpaste, but the difference at this hotel is the level of personal, authentic advice… advice that doesn’t simply direct guests to what’s inside the hotel, but instead leads them outdoors to experience the real Austin. And often, those digital connections lead to in person interactions with the hotel’s staff.

“Today, 99% of social conversations between brands and people are one on one,” says Deb de Freitas, Head of Employee Programs at Spredfast, a social media company headquartered in Austin. “On top of that, consumers expect brands to respond on social within 30 minutes, which means that businesses, and especially the travel and hospitality industry, must be able to execute both quick and personalized social care interactions at scale. Social is adding a new layer to the definition of “good customer service” in the hospitality industry, and the hotels that innovate to meet their guests’ expectations will reap the rewards.”

Opened just last month, the new Spa by JW offers all of the luxury one might expect with a full array of services for those with time to enjoy them. But an express option might align better with conference and convention attendees who often don’t have the luxury of time. Spa by JW express treatments provide on-demand services that start at a 12-minute entry point and are bookable without an appointment.

Guests can experience the innovative express spa suites, designed around a state-of-the-art massage chair, that’s exclusive to JW Marriott and features embedded scent infusers, noise canceling technology, and cell phone charging stations. These express spa services can be replicated in meeting areas to enhance wellness breaks or simply make them more accessible for attendees.

Frequent business travelers often rue the thought of eating at a hotel restaurant because many of them feel distinctly disconnected from the local foodie vibe. After opening, the JW Marriott Austin turned that old concept on its head, creating a popular street side eatery just in time for SXSW. The Burger Bar on Congress serves Texas beef burgers, fries and milkshakes – but in food-truck-style, with an outdoor, walk-up window.

Corner, the hotel’s nod to authentic Texas cuisine, was recently named one of Austin’s Top 15 hottest new bars and restaurants. And this past spring, Osteria Pronto just off the hotel’s lobby, opened the hip OP Wine Bar, a sleek addition to Osteria Pronto’s modern take on Italian cuisine.

Not long after opening, that the JW Marriott’s Austin hotel team could see more potential for newly created spaces. “We need to keep evolving as trends evolve,” says Damon Bell, Director of Sales and Marketing. What was already an impressive rooftop terrace and scenic swimming pool is being reimagined to including private cabanas, mini-fire pits and a full service pool bar.

“Lots of hotels define themselves by category – convention hotel, leisure travel property – we think of our hotel as an urban resort that appeals to all audiences,” Bell says. Undoubtedly, the continuing commitment to transform the guest experience in new and innovative ways bodes well for future visits to this constantly changing Austin hotel.

The pool at JW Marriott Austin