NY Times On Marriott’s Quest For Hipper Brands (And Younger Customers)

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There was an interesting piece on the NY Times over the weekend (access here) about Marriott’s brand (dull) and their quest trying to attract younger clientele with more exciting hotel brands.

ny-times-on-marriott

The article covers the Marriott’s Edition brand that is scheduled to become 100-city chain.

The Edition was introduced back in 2008, but has had very rocky start. The Hawaii property has already been rebranded and the only two open Editions are the ones in London and Istanbul. Only two open hotels in 6 years?

Mr. Sorenson is also leaning harder on a part of the company that many consumers may not realize is owned by Marriott: Ritz-Carlton. Marriott bought 49 percent of that luxury hotel chain in 1995 and the balance in 1998. But Marriott — agreeing with Ritz-Carlton that the luxury brand would be hurt by association with Marriott’s middle-market brand — kept the connection quiet.

The problems with the Ritz-Carlton and Marriott are also mentioned. Many people are not aware that Ritz-Carlton is part of the Marriott family of hotels, as it is marketed completely separate. Ritz-Carlton also has its own version of Marriott Rewards (Ritz-Carlton Rewards) that is basically the same account, but with just different name.

Marriott is dependable. When you’re stranded overnight on business in St. Louis or Denver or Chicago, the red glow of a Marriott sign is there at the airport to offer you a clean, comfortable room.

Marriott, in the words of brand experts, is boring. Nobody raves about the D.J. at a Courtyard.

Some people don’t mind that the Marriott brand is boring. The brand is very predictable. You know what you are going to get (most of the times).

“But somewhere along the line, Marriott fell behind in some important ways. The hotel industry does not innovate quickly, analysts say, but Marriott in particular was slow to expand overseas. When it did, it created hotels in places where Americans wanted to travel, overlooking a new market of foreign customers with money to burn. “

Good luck finding a Marriott properties in vacation hot spots such as Seychelles, Maldives or French Polynesia (I happen to be writing this from my over water bungalow at the InterContinental).

Conclusion

This was rather good piece about the state of the Marriott chain with only couple of mistakes (I would call them such).

Not sure why someone buy Marriott’s PR about the “design” AC chain in Europe? Stayed at one property in Madrid and it was about Courtyard quality. The only “design” element was he phone used and paper thin walls (could hear the couple banging on the other room).

Marriott is really trying to catch up with the 21st century, as their long term growth and profitability depends on it. You can only so long cater to the baby boomers….

The roll out with the Edition brand has been a disaster. Let’s hope that they can speed up the development.

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