Marriott's Key to Omnichannel Success
A key customer engagement theory making the rounds these days is that organizations must implement an omnichannel solution. Tech savvy consumers are becoming increasingly demanding with increased expectations. Online channels have for many years been treated as a distinct, separate channel without integration to the overall bricks-and-mortar business model. This is rapidly changing, as customers are demanding more. Whether the customers are in a physical place, on a computer or on a mobile device, they require the same service levels and access to information throughout the entire shopping experience.
When organizations implement omnichannel solutions they transform both the customer experience and their own operations, giving them the ability to track customers’ journeys seamlessly across physical and virtual spaces, understand and respond to their needs in real time and deliver increasingly personalized and convenient retail experiences wherever customers are and however they choose to shop.
The whole idea behind omnichannel solutions is making each customer’s experience unique and Marriott International have been leveraging this by constantly introducing new features. We interviewed Neal Jones, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer at Marriott International who is responsible for providing strategic leadership of the Brand Management, Marketing, e-Commerce, Sales, Reservations, Revenue Management, and Consumer Insight functions for all Marriott International Brands and Hotels, while supporting aggressive hotel expansion across the Middle East and Africa Continent.
1. Why has it been so important for Marriott International to implement Omni-channel solutions? What are some of the key initiatives introduced?
We see digital technology being integrated into everyday life more and more, especially in this region and particularly on mobile. We want to be on the forefront of integrating new technologies into our service offerings to the benefit of our stakeholders and empower them to travel brilliantly.
We believe that omni-channel service offerings are very much today’s new dimension of customer decision making. The idea behind omni-channel solutions and communication is to make each customer’s experience unique, which is very much aligned with the main focus of Marriott International. We are all about giving customers what they want, when they want and in the simplest way possible. For example, the Marriott mobile app helps you plan a holiday, book a hotel and order room service or a spa treatment.
By introducing enterprises such as our award winning Marriott Rewards Program, we are able to leverage this new trend and start constructing personal profiles for our guest. Our ultimate goal is to customize offers based on a guest’s Marriott Rewards profile, including offers such as VIP treatments or discounts for special events, which may be of interest to the user.
2. What was the process like to get to Omni-channel? How were you able to develop customer experiences that were seamlessly connection and consistent across all channels?
Great customer experiences are developed from collecting the right data. However, all customer data sources have to be incorporated into the same platform in order to get that data.
Marriott International brings together all marketing disciplines to track conversations, trends, global performance, campaign performance, and brand reputation on social media. Our global platforms also proactively create original content based on what is trending, or anticipated to trend, on social media and responds accordingly to social conversation.
3. How do you consider physical and digital execution in your customer engagement design for a holistic hotel experience?
Today’s customer interactions—especially those of millennial travellers—are taking place on numerous mobile devices and across multiple channels. It’s one thing to provide helpful information on digital signs and video walls in the hotel lobby. It’s another to bring that information straight to the customer in a non-invasive fashion, such as a mobile app in which you can make requests before, during or after your stay.
With real customer experiences being the new 'word of mouth' on social media, Marriott International is not only seizing more chances to engage with consumers quickly, but also identify opportunities by brand, discipline, market and channel to create memorable and shareable experiences.
4. What should we anticipate in the upcoming years from Marriott International?
Our marketing aims to be relevant to the lives of next-generation travellers and connect with them immediately and authentically. Initiatives such as M Live helps us do this on a global scale. We can track and respond to conversations that are either directly related to our brands, or that are trending among travellers. Through these interactions, we can create a deeper level of engagement with our guests.
Moreover, we’re striving to connect with travellers in more culturally meaningful ways. For example, as a part of Marriott Hotel’s brand transformation, our flagship brand has been innovating throughout its hotels globally. Re-designed lobbies and public spaces known as Greatrooms have been rapidly deployed for the next generation of travellers who blend work and play, demand style and substance, and require technology.