Future Guest Experience 2020

September 28 - 29, 2020

Las Vegas, NV

Marriott International Is Putting Experiences First with New Loyalty Brand Marriott Bonvoy

Brought to you by WBR Insights

The shift away from product and towards experiences is something that can be seen across all industries, though perhaps none more so than in tourism and travel. Today's hotel guests are no longer simply looking for a comfy bed to rest their head - they want to explore new places and try new things. As Karin Timpone, Marriott International's Global Marketing Officer, observes, "There is an overall move to have life experiences versus stuff."

What this means for hotel brands is that simply focusing on discounted rooms and other unimaginative perks is no longer enough of a strategy to capture the imagination and win the loyalty of guests. Today's customers want special moments, memories, and experiences when they travel - and this is something that Marriott International is keenly aware of.

The French say "Bon voyage" when someone is about to set off on a trip. It means "good travel" - a simple yet powerful concept that poetically conjures up the romance and adventure of journeys and exploration. And this simple phrase captures precisely what Marriott International wants its guests to feel and experience every time they book a stay and engage with the brand.

Marriott Bonvoy

Unveiled in February 2019, Marriott Bonvoy is Marriott International's new loyalty brand that replaces Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). The new platform is centered around the theme of travel as a vehicle for enrichment.

"Marriott Bonvoy marks an evolution in travel because it represents more than a loyalty program," said Marriott International's Global Chief Commercial Officer Stephanie Linnartz. "Marriott Bonvoy is a travel program designed to bring to life our extraordinary portfolio of global brands in 129 countries and territories, while also providing endless inspiration for members to keep traveling and pursuing their passions."

(Video source: youtube.com)

Marriott International operates some 6,700 hotels under 30 different brands around the world - including Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, and W Hotels. However, despite this impressive global footprint, Timpone remains realistic about where these different brands - many of which don't bear the Marriott name - fit into the average traveler's mindset. "The interesting thing is even though we're 30 brands, we're still a relatively small piece of overall what consumers are using in travel because there is so much choice," she said.

One of the core objectives of Marriott Bonvoy is to simplify that choice by bringing Marriott International's multitude of brands together under one loyalty program. In doing so, Timpone says Marriott can create a cohesive story for travelers, optimize rewards, and streamline customer choice.

Marriott had more than 120 million members across the Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty programs. Now merged under Marriott Bonvoy, these members have the ability to seamlessly earn and redeem points across Marriott's entire loyalty portfolio and achieve "Elite" status faster. Marriott says members now earn on average 20% more points per dollar spent.

"We have put the loyalty member at the center of what we're doing," said Timpone. "We've created a way to navigate across our portfolio, driving to our channels on Marriott.com and our app which is more expanded than ever before."

Marriott Moments

Points are all well and good, but they don't necessarily equate to good travel experiences - and this is something that Marriott International wanted to rectify when developing Marriott Bonvoy.

A new "Marriott Bonvoy Moments" feature of the program offers Marriott's most loyal customers a range of 120,000 travel experiences across 1,000 destinations globally. These range from local tours and excursions - such as hiking into glacial Patagonia, desert treks on camelback in Morocco, or cruising Vietnam's timeless floating villages - to once-in-a-lifetime experiences like a chance to attend the Oscars, cooking alongside renowned chefs Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert, and honing football skills in a master class with Hall of Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice.

Marriott has deals with a huge scope of partnerships - including Universal Music Group, NFL, FIA Formula One World Champions, and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport - to bring these Moments to life for members. One of the most recent additions is a multi-year partnership with Manchester United, giving Marriott Bonvoy members exclusive opportunities to use their accrued points to bid for soccer experiences, such as the chance to become the stadium announcer or kit manager for the day.

"Marriott Bonvoy provides members an unparalleled offering of experiences together with the opportunity to earn desirable member benefits," said Marriott in a press release.

Final Thoughts

"Rewards Reimagined" is Marriott Bonvoy's tag line - and that's exactly what they are. Evolving its previous loyalty schemes far beyond simply accruing points that can be exchanged for discounts, Marriott Bonvoy is a much broader travel program, providing endless inspiration for "good travel", with a keen focus on putting experiences first.

"Represented by a simple, bold and modern logo, Marriott Bonvoy is welcoming and optimistic," said Linnartz. "Our 120 million members have access to the world's leading hotel portfolio at the best room rates and member benefits, as well as our collection of Moments experiences that bring exploration and discovery of the world to the forefront."

You can hear Ellen Cory, Sr. Director, Customer Experience and Innovation at Marriott International, speak at Future Guest Experience 2019, taking place this September in Henderson, NV.

Download the Agenda today for more information and insights.