Content, community, commerce. For Marriott International, the three C’s drive a business strategy that just netted the company a “Brand of the Year” honor from French content market MIPTV. But even before the accolades started coming in, Marriott has been on the front line of media news since September. That’s when the company became the first travel brand to launch its own content studio.
The project was spearheaded by Marriott’s global marketing officer, Karin Timpone, and its vice president of global creative and content marketing, David Beebe, who joined the company last July. Beebe, who has a background in creative development and worked for Disney/ABC, Showtime, and DirecTV, was tasked with shepherding the 18-brand hotel giant over new marketing terrain. “It’s no longer about brand-first,” he says. “It’s about giving consumers content that adds value to their lives, and in return adds value to us.”
Just four months old, the Marriott Content Studio counts 65 people on its team. It’s an amalgamation of Marriott’s existing in-house agency, which through a traditional agency model has historically guided the company’s brand strategy and voice, and a new crew of editorial and creative development specialists. Marriott will be using its newfound capabilities to develop episodic story-driven content.
“Brands like Red Bull and GE are trying to own a space—action and sports, or innovation and technology,” Beebe says. “When we set out to do this it wasn’t about emulating other brands but owning the travel space from a content perspective.”
Indeed, the vertical lends itself well to content marketing. Numerous travelers now create travel blogs and videos, tag their photos, and share their experiences with friends. But Beebe says that prior to the studio’s launch no other brand had “stepped up” to take advantage of this opportunity to build loyalty through content. “That,” he says, “is the way to connect.”
And in the past few months, the studio has been busy building that loyalty. Leveraging Beebe’s industry connections, Marriott has been seeking out partnership deals with producers and content creators throughout the entertainment community. Its mission is to identify social media influencers who are trusted by travelers and have a knack for creating authentic content.
“All the content we’re creating—whether it’s destination or utility, travel hacks or entertainment—is being produced with content creators in the creative community,” Beebe explains.
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