Case Studies

June 13th, 2012

Marriott’s Five-Star Twitter Strategy

This post is part of the Twitter for Brands Series, which features winning strategies from the top brand pages on Twitter and provides tips on how to emulate their successes.

Marriott: Most people know it just as the international hotel chain, but it’s also one of the leading travel brands on Twitter.

From the start of its social media division, the company has used it to solve customer issues, share customers’ stories, and enable them to speak openly about the brand.

The hotel is divided into many different accounts for all of its locations around the world. Although they all garner thousands of followers, the biggest Twitter feed it has is @MarriottIntl, which has over 186,000 followers.

Emphasize Customer Service Needs

In an interview with Hotel Interactive, John Wolf, senior director of public relations for Marriott International, said that the company has used Twitter as a vehicle to better serve customers.

“If someone actually has an issue happening in the moment, we are able to support them and take action,” he said. “One guest left one of our hotels in India, and had left a charger in his room, and he tweeted about it, and we were able to get it returned. He just mentioned it and we jumped on it. It could be things like missing Marriott Rewards Points, and we solve that too, or problems with a reservation.”

The @MarriottIntl handle is full of direct interactions between the three customer service representatives, Jordan, Laurie, and Matthew, and customers.

On June 4, the reps replied to 10 different customers and their concerns, whether they were about poor room service, excellent service for Gold Members, or the free Starbucks coffee in the hotel lobby.

@marriottintl in Rochester is awesome!,” tweeted @Dylan_Wilson. “Free venti @Starbucks this morning and last night! I’ll never sleep again! #dariusgoeswest.” Just eight hours later, the company replied, “@Dylan_Wilson We’re always happy to help in your quest for caffeine. ;) Thanks for the Rochester shout out & enjoy your time with us!”

Wolf said to Hotel Interactive that his company’s responsive customer service is a industry standard.

“I can’t imagine any of our competitors, if they do hear of a customer issue on a social channel, ignoring it,” he said. “Our feeling is people are already talking about you, so the great thing is that we are listening and we are responding and we are solving problems.”

Let the Customers Relay their Experiences

In 2009, Marriott ran a campaign titled “The Driven,” which put their clientele in the spotlight. Guests were called upon on Twitter and found through recommendations by hotel managers and the Marriott Rewards program.

The customers shared their stories and experiences with the brand through videos, which they narrated, to show “the changes occurring at hotels worldwide,” according to HotelMarketing.com.

For example, there was an ad featuring Olu, a Boston area pediatrician who said, “At the end of the day, when I think that I’ve accomplished a lot, it just makes me feel completely content, completely at peace and I usually have a great night’s sleep.”

Senior Vice President of Marriott Deborah Fell, who talked to HotelMarketing.com said, “We chose focused, demanding, on-the-go professionals to tell their story of Marriott Hotels & Resorts because they represent our core customer. No one can speak to the experience and benefits at Marriott better than the customers themselves. That’s what this campaign is all about.”

Customers respond better to real reviews from their fellow customers as opposed to marketing messages from a company. A Local Consumer Review survey reported that “76% of consumers regularly or occasionally use online reviews to determine which local business to use.”

By putting the testimonials out there and letting the customers do the talking, they built trust among their followers.

Retweet Customers

When @MarriottIntl isn’t replying to customers, it’s retweeting them–especially if there are pictures involved. What better advertising for the brand than a picture of the view from one of its rooms, or a photo of its grounds?

A photo of the Marriott in Edinburgh taken by user @ILMtravelbug was retweeted by the company on April 30. Follower @shomarim’s photo of the Renaissance Carambola was retweeted on May 19. Along with it was a tweet that stated, “The Renaissance Carambola is one sexy resort. Love the renovations! @MarriottHotels @MarriottIntl @RenHotels.”

Just like the “Driven” campaign, Marriott let the customers do the talking. Satisfied customers who share their positive experiences are one of the strongest assets a company can have. On top of that, posting the visuals is a strategic move on the hotel’s behalf. People respond better to photos.

Marriott’s Twitter handle showcases how hotels and companies in general should treat their customers over social media sites. The brand respects its customers’ needs, and doesn’t ignoring them. It gives customers the platform to spell out their issues and get them quickly resolved, as well as share their stories and have a voice.

“[Social media is] enabling us to accelerate that conversation and make those connection points in ways that weren’t before possible,” said the vice president of commerce at Marriott, Andy Kauffman, in an interview with Mashable. “But the principles behind it are all rooted in good service and, if something happens, great service recovery.”


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