In 2014, Marriott International became the first hotel company to roll out mobile check-in on a global scale. The service was introduced at 14 brands across more than 4,000 properties in over 50 countries via the Marriott Mobile App as a free service to Marriott Reward Members. With over five million app downloads and 50 million Marriott Reward Members, Marriott quickly identified a consistent and stable pattern of usage for the service. The data showed that guests who used mobile check-in had a significantly higher impression of Marriott than guests who completed a traditional check-in. To celebrate the millionth guest checking in on mobile, Marriott decided to have a huge surprise event, give the guest one million Marriott Rewards points, and capture all of it on film.
Objective and Context:
In 2015, Marriott’s marketing goals were twofold: Increase the usage rate of mobile check-in and generate awareness that this feature was widely available.
For objective one, the target audience consisted of anyone traveling to one of Marriott’s hotels. The goal was to convert these guests into users of the service.
For objective two, the target audience consisted of Millennials with a propensity toward travel. The goal was to generate awareness about this feature.
As the mobile service ramped up across 4,000 properties, the Marriott International team decided to celebrate a unique milestone in the program when the Millionth Mobile Check-in occurred. This milestone led to a creative idea to surprise the millionth mobile check-in guest and capture it on video. As this concept came to life, it became more and more elaborate. What started with a simple event became a surprise lobby dance party featuring acrobats, dancers, and countless balloons. To top it all off, Marriott decided to reward the millionth mobile check-in guest with a million Marriott Rewards points. Ultimately, Marriott wanted to involve more than one guest in this celebration. The company decided that this event would kick off a year-long sweeps where Marriott awarded millions of Marriott Reward points on a monthly and annual basis to lucky guests who completed a mobile check-in.
Overall Campaign Execution:
Marriott filmed the surprise event for the millionth mobile check-in, posted it to YouTube, and utilized paid media via YouTube Trueview ads to target Millennials with travel intent on their mobile devices. This met objective two: generating awareness of the service. In addition, Marriott promoted the ongoing sweepstakes with pre-arrival emails to all guests with an upcoming stay at one of its hotels with the goal of driving incremental mobile check-ins. Marriott developed a responsive landing page to host the video and sweepstakes information.
This was Marriott’s first time attempting this type of campaign, as the mobile service is new to the market. Marriott launched this service as part of a digital revolution to reinvigorate the guest experience at its hotels and remove points of friction using digital technology. Research showed 64 percent of guests wanted to know when their room was ready before arriving at a hotel. Mobile check-in solved that by deploying real-time room-ready alerts via push messaging in the Marriott mobile app.
Marriott spent its budget as follows:
The media budget consisted primarily of YouTube ads, and 65 percent were targeted toward mobile devices. The media was orchestrated to drive about two million views on YouTube where the brand was also promoting the sweepstakes. On Marriott’s digital channels, a coordinated effort was developed to promote this surprise event and sweepstakes. It began with a seven-day takeover of the marriott.com homepage that drove users to the landing page. The pre-arrival email, deployed to over one million recipients each week, prominently featured the sweepstakes message and call to action to download the app and try mobile check-in. All of these efforts were built responsively, as the primary goal was to target those on mobile devices, inform them of the opportunity to a win million Marriott Reward points, and drive them to download the app and try the new service.
This campaign was developed to promote a critical mobile service in the Marriott Mobile App; therefore, the entire campaign was orchestrated with a "mobile first" mentality. The mechanics of the sweepstakes were built to make it seamless for mobile users. For example, the enrollment for the sweepstakes happened automatically upon completing a mobile check-in without a separate need to register. This meant that a mobile user could see the email reminder, download the app, check in, and be instantly enrolled in one seamless process. Marriott took many actions to purposely remove any friction that could exist with this type of promotion.
Ahead of the launch of this surprise video, stunt, and sweepstakes, Marriott’s global usage rate for mobile check-in hovered around 10 percent of eligible reservations. The One Millionth Mobile Check-in Campaign results were astounding.
In terms of awareness, the video showcasing the surprise lobby party for the One Millionth Mobile Check-in guest garnered over 3.7 million views on YouTube. This was nearly double the target. The number of views clearly demonstrated the interest in this event and helped drive awareness of Marriott’s mobile check-in service. Marriott’s sweepstakes landing page received almost 100,000 visits monthly due to the ongoing efforts achieved by the deployment of the pre-arrival email. In terms of usage, the results have surpassed Marriott’s expectations, having tripled since the promotion launched. Globally, Marriott’s usage of mobile check-in has risen to well over 30 percent of arrivals, resulting in over 100,000 mobile check-ins every single week. Marriott regularly experiences usage rates as high as 40 percent.