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Marriott champions 'cultural competence'

News, 14 January 2016

MIAMI, FL: Marriott International, the hotel group, is prioritising "cultural competence" as it seeks to engage the increasingly diverse sets of consumers who are now staying at its properties.

Apoorva N. Gandhi, VP/Multicultural Affairs at Marriott International, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers' (ANA) 2015 Multicultural Marketing and Diversity Conference.

"We want to make sure that we're culturally competent in terms of how we welcome folks into our hotels – how we deliver and sell to them, and how we delight them," he said.

Such competency requires a deep understanding of how to meet the wants and needs of various different customer cohorts. And getting this strategy right at a highly granular level could prove extremely profitable for Marriott.

"The domestic travel spend for our Hispanic friends is around $70bn," Gandhi said. (For more, including how the firm extends this thinking to international travellers, read Warc's exclusive report: Marriott's passion for the multicultural traveler.)

"Our African American friends spend about $50bn dollars on domestic travel. And the LGBT community is spending about $63bn a year on domestic travel.

"These are vibrant markets for this [industry], but it takes money and time to get this business … But what if we just went after 1% of those numbers? If we just got 1%, my god, we would be rock stars."

One marketing campaign which has let Marriott reach each of these groups with specific messages – all while utilising a common umbrella – is called "#LoveTravels".

This program, Gandhi reported, "is a multicultural, inclusive campaign that conveys how everyone feels conformable being who they are everywhere they travel.

"Love. Being secure. Being comfortable in your own skin. If a marketer can help someone feel comfortable with who they are in using their product, you've knocked it out of the park."

Building on this theme, Marriott is aiming to reach diverse sets of consumers with tailored marketing cues, although the members of its target audience do share various important traits, too.

"In the multicultural markets, are we going for every traveller within a segment? No. Are we going for a particular traveller that we think would aspire to stay in our hotels, or can stay in our hotels? You bet we are," said Gandhi.

Data sourced from Warc