NEW YORK: Marriott International, the hotels group, believes that buzz marketing can help it achieve upper-funnel engagement with millennials in unique ways.

Jennifer Utz Ilecki, Marriott’s Vice President/Buzz Marketing & Global Partnerships, discussed this subject at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2017 Digital & Social Media Conference.

“You have to go to the platforms they frequent, implement frictionless tech through innovation and personalisation and, finally, provide memorable experiences that keep people coming back for more,” she said. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: How Marriott leverages experiential marketing.)

More specifically, she reported that the organisation’s main performance metrics for experiential, buzz marketing campaigns include social media and PR impressions.

“I would say that most of the activities that take place in buzz marketing are upper funnel,” Ilecki said. “So we are looking at how much of the ideas we’re coming up with are resonating, especially in lifestyle publications ... and make sure that we’re reaching the type of publications that millennials are reading.”

An indicative example involves an effort at this year’s Coachella Music Festival, one of Marriott’s corporate partners, that enabled the company to engage a youthful demographic.

“We knew Coachella is where we wanted to be because it’s ‘millennial-ville’, so we took over ten tents and we flipped them into ten of our lifestyle brands,” Ilecki explained.

These tents were outfitted like deluxe rooms from different hotel brands, with influencers and celebrities invited to stay in them as a means of driving buzz on the initiative’s first weekend.

And, on the second weekend, these tents became available to members of the Starwood and Marriott reward programs who could “book their stay using points to stay in these tents”.

Ultimately, this campaign received coverage in Condé Nast Traveler, the Los Angeles Times, online site Quartz and a variety of other print and digital publications.

“It was one of the most successful buzz marketing campaigns that we’ve had leveraging a partner,” Ilecki said.

Data sourced from WARC