October 25, 2021

In the Hospitality Race for Customer Loyalty, MarTech will Decide the Winner

Doing more with less is the biggest short-term challenge facing the hospitality industry today. As travel comes back faster than expected, hotel brands, airlines, cruise lines, restaurants and casinos are racing to staff to demand despite one-third fewer hospitality workers.

But against this difficult staffing backdrop exists an exciting opportunity for hospitality brands to emerge as a more pivotal and proactive part of the entire travel experience for consumers. Forward-thinking companies see the industry’s future and are engaged in a customer loyalty arms race to shore up their foundations.

There’s just one catch: most hospitality and travel brands do not have the marketing technology in place to capture even a tenth of the customer loyalty opportunity available for the taking.

Here are 3 ways hospitality brands can get MarTech to come out on top.

1. Achieving Personalization at Scale – Today’s travelers expect brands to anticipate and care about their unique needs. Personalizing the customer journey is the key to making this happen. The more a brand learns about customers and targets them in a way that feels authentic, the better chance they have of driving a strong loyalty platform.

Marriott International’s new Bonvoy loyalty program is a great example of this. Using Marriott Bonvoy points accumulated from travel and everyday activities such as credit card spend, ride-sharing, or food delivery, members can gain VIP access to concerts, culinary experiences, premier sporting events and more all over the globe. “Pinch-Yourself” experiences like exclusive access to NFL kickoff, walking the red carpet at the MTV VMAs or designing a wedding gown with a top bridal designer are all made possible via the Marriott brand.

Trying to do personalization manually across massive customer bases is impossible and introduces tremendous complexity to marketing teams already being asked to do more with less. There is also too much room for error across owned channels that can create chaos and a PR nightmare for brands. Even seemingly small mistakes have a huge impact. One erroneous email can reach 30 million people and have huge repercussions at already stretched-thin call centers.

In the race to personalization, the loyalty programs that are the most flexible and relevant to the widest variety of consumers will win. In order to do this well, a best-in-breed MarTech platform is essential to personalize the customer journey, create new revenue opportunities and know where every customer story is in the process.

Marriott International’s Director of Digital Personalization and Marketing Orchestration, Michelle Cascone, is a powerful advocate for aligning marketing technology with corporate strategies and goals.

“At Marriott International, one of our core value statements is that success is never final. We are always putting our associates first because they will take care of our guests and our guests will keep coming back,” Cascone said. “Technology is no different. Adobe Workfront will provide a much-needed marketing system of record and give us the workflow management foundation we need to achieve our future goal of personalization at scale. By connecting and optimizing our people, technologies, and processes, we can be more nimble, offering transparency to our internal stakeholders while delivering increasingly personalized marketing to our customers.”

2. Activating an Automated, Omnichannel Technology Strategy – Once personalization at scale becomes an initiative for an organization, the natural next step is making sure all owned channels are telling the consumer the same story. Leading companies are architecting seamless orchestration across the life cycles of their campaigns to link initial strategy with campaign data & setup, creative design, content and production to identify and market personalized digital campaigns in a faster, scalable way.

For example, imagine a person books a one-week family vacation with a hotel company that is able to see that the customer is also a loyalty member with a brand in their travel ecosystem. With this knowledge, the hotel company can identify opportunities to begin marketing additional co-branded experiences and services during their stay. These are the kind of personalized, revenue-generating marketing opportunities and experiences hospitality brands can only optimize if their channels are sympatico.

Ensuring all roads lead the consumer to the right message is a tremendous strength of Adobe Experience Manager (AEM), with Adobe Workfront serving as the connective marketing tissue between Adobe’s enterprise systems and the work and content that needs to be disseminated across channels. Workfront sits in front of Creative and alerts people that a design is ready to move to the next stage. Companies can inventory assets and re-use what they’ve already created across subsets, thus saving time, money and unnecessary re-work because designs can never get accidently lost or deleted.

Beyond time savings and reducing the complexity of digital work, an integrated platform creates synergies across disparate teams and allows for less error and less time entering the same information in multiple places. Most importantly, a connected ecosystem allows organizations to understand how their campaigns are performing in a more comprehensive sense.

A leading travel company (née hotel brand) recently turned to LeapPoint and Adobe to achieve personalization at scale and an omnichannel technology strategy in order to grow their marketing team’s execution capacity from 30 customer segments to nearly 1,000 customer segments. LeapPoint helped them quickly start flexing that muscle by implementing Workfront with connections to Adobe Target and Adobe AEM, along with a few non-Adobe tools (like JIRA) to immediately address hundreds of segments on the way to the target goal of 1,000 campaign segments.

3. Expanding Beyond the Traditional Brand Experience – The pandemic has introduced tremendous pressures for the entire hospitality industry. It is understandable that brands may feel tempted to wait or think they need to “get ready” in order to invest in technology. In reality, as long as companies have a vision, chaos is a great place to start. It is the perfect entry point for the right technology partners who understand how to create Connected Work from disparate systems and processes.

The next five years will be wild and exciting for the hospitality industry and there is more than enough room for everyone to win. By focusing on personalization at scale and tech-focused omnichannel strategies, brands can increase loyalty bases and re-establish themselves outside of their traditional brand boxes to become go-to providers of truly memorable hospitality and travel experiences.