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Brand Strategy Marketing

Inside Marriott Bonvoy’s multi-destination sonic brand campaign

By Amit Bapna, APAC editor-at-large

June 21, 2023 | 8 min read

We catch up with the hospitality giant to hear how it is using the power of sound to create distinct associations with places.

Marriott Bonvoy launches its new musical campaign

Marriott Bonvoy launches its new musical campaign

Deploying the power of sensory branding, specifically the sound and music, hotel chain Marriott recently announced its collaboration with Amsterdam-based instrumentalists and music composers, Parallelle, for its Bonvoy rewards program. The campaign is about how to experience the power of travel through sound.

The launch includes a multi-destination campaign containing a five-part music video series that are all united by the common thread that they are all creating destination-related sounds, increasing the familiarity with the destinations as well as some of the chosen properties from the Marriott portfolio. Marriott International has currently got 31 hotel brands under its portfolio across the world and it is the world’s largest hospitality brand.

As a part of this partnership, the band, comprising the two brothers Thomas and Julien De Bie, unveiled the campaign. The series has been inspired by the sounds of places and cultures of some of the major destinations in Asia Pacific, which include Java, Fiji, Osaka, Bangkok and Bengaluru.

The videos are part of Parallelle’s ongoing film series, ‘A Day In’, where they travel across the globe capturing day-to-day sounds in local communities to unfold rich stories through music.

The music videos have been shot by the ace cinematographer Arnaud Moro, a French photographer, director and cinematographer currently based in Amsterdam. Moro is known for his visual stories capturing places and people and has also worked with brands like Tag Heuer, Porsche, Yelo Bank etc.

Deploying sound for destination branding

There has been an increasing appetite among evolved travelers to be part of travel experiences that showcase different communities' unique beauty and culture, via various creative methods – and one such is via sound.

Travelers wherever they travel, can uncover the signature rhythms that define each destination through videos and music compositions. Says John Toomey, vice president - sales and marketing, Asia Pacific (excluding Greater China), Marriott International, “The collaboration with Parallelle is aimed at allowing consumers to reimagine travel through sound and forge stronger emotional bonds to their favorite destinations.”

The 'A Day in' videos have been made with some distinct and characteristic sounds of places in Asia Pacific to showcase the region’s diverse cultures. These include the sound of the bustling traffic of Bangkok, the rains of Java, the laughter of shop vendors in Osaka, the traditional sound of the South Indian flute Nadaswaram and the racy acapella choirs of Fiji.

Toomey hopes that this collaboration helps inspire travelers to tap into the power of travel through sound and gain a renewed perspective on what it truly means to explore the world.

Touching upon an interesting facet of tourism branding, the collaboration hopes to inspire people in embracing the power of travel through sound and discover the sounds of places, cultures and local communities in this journey.

From a brand lens, this association helps showcase some key destinations and properties for Marriott, shares Toomey. These include signature properties of the group located in Jakarta (Indonesia), Fiji, Osaka (Japan), Bangkok (Thailand), and Bengaluru (India).

To spread the sound, the just-launched musical campaign is being showcased on Marriott Bonvoy’s social media channels. There are also plans to launch the full album of club versions of the music compositions later this year.

A Day in Java

A Day in Fiji

A Day in Osaka

A Day in Bangkok

A Day in Bengaluru

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Building customer relationships on card

Loyalty is not an easy thing to build in any category and becomes even more complex for service brands. One of the tangible ways of this loyalty can be through co-branded credit cards, a belief that many brands globally have aligned to.

Toomey agrees that there is no better way to stay active with the customers than to have “our card in the wallet of the consumer with which he can earn and redeem points every day and every single transaction.” To build loyalty in this space, co-branded cards are a big part of our activation strategy, he adds.

Marriott has already launched the cards in Japan, Korea and China, as part of a collaboration launched in 2021 with the leading global tech player Rakuten and that has been immensely successful.

India would also have a co-branded credit card soon and other South East Asian markets as well as Australia and New Zealand are also being looked at, Toomey shares.

The pillars of the Marriott loyalty program

Bonvoy was launched in 2019, as the American hospitality major’s new loyalty brand after it acquired Starwood in 2016. The newly formed entity brought all the then-existing loyalty programs like Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), etc under one umbrella brand.

As a brand that believes in providing its members with ongoing inspiration to continue to travel and experience their passions, music forms a key pillar of that experience that finds voice in many concerts, performances and music festivals that Bonvoy curates and sponsors for its members. Shares Toomey, “Music is one of the key pillars in the Marriott brand playbook along with art and culture, culinary and sports.” After all, music touches everyone’s life, he adds.

The Marriott Bonvoy and Parallelle collaboration is one such initiative in the hospitality brand’s playbook, and would be an ongoing part of it, he adds. In the recent past, the brand has had collaborations with global performers like Gwen Stefani and Imagine Dragons, among others.

Bonvoy’s evolving playbook

Life can be a tough one for a marketer with a portfolio of 31 diverse brands, even if only half of those are presently active in the Asia Pacific region. Toomey agrees and says, “One of the biggest challenges while marketing Marriott Bonvoy is, to ensure that all our customers know about our vast portfolio of brands.”

APAC region is a large contributor to the growth journey of the hospitality brand. Marriott Bonvoy has 180 million members globally and 1.5 million members are enrolled monthly. Of the total base, over 60 million reside in Asia Pacific, shares Toomey, which is a sizable consumer base.

In APAC, Bonvoy’s presence is sizable in the top source markets, some of which are China, India, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Australia. These are mature destinations where we are doing a lot of work in enrolling and activating more members, he adds.

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