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Travel Tech

The Marriott hotel chain is one of the best known in the world, and has been repeatedly cited as one of the premier companies on the planet to work for. Marriott International was recognised by both Forbes magazine and the UK Times newspaper as being one of the world’s best employers, so it is not merely staying in the Marriott hotel that can improve your standard of living.

Global Creative Studio

Recently, Marriott International has launched a global creative and content marketing studio which is intended to handle internal work for its portfolio of eighteen travel-related brands. This new studio will be based around three distinct departments which will aim to bring creative value to the Marriott brand.

The first of these will be content development, which will operate as a personal creative agency. The second will be production, which is effectively an entertainment division, responsible for producing video content which will range from short video clips through music, web series and even branching out into television shows. Finally will be distribution, a real-time marketing group which will monitor social media on a constant basis to ensure immediate interaction by the Marriott group with trending topics.

Marriott is already the largest hotel chain in the world, and according to David Beebe, Marriott's vice president of creative, content marketing and global marketing, the intention behind this scheme is to make Marriott International the world's largest producer of travel-related content. The desire is very much for Marriott to take ownership of its own travel entertainment space, and to gain a reputation and recognition within the marketplace and among consumers as a trusted source for all travel needs.

Online series produced by the hotel’s new scheme will be broadcast on Marriott.com, via Marriott mobile, and through a variety of other online media channels such as YouTube.

Content Marketing Evolution

The in-house approach that Marriott is taking in this new scheme is indicative of a general trend in the tourism industry related to content marketing. There is an increasing demand for high quality content to be produced by digital marketers, and in particular ongoing interaction for long-term campaigns and real-time marketing over social platforms are becoming extremely important.

This leads to a question of whether both destinations and travel-related businesses should create their content in-house or rely upon external agencies to produce it. Many destinations differ significantly with regard to the degree that they develop content, with some largely relying on in-house teams, while others are happy to turn over the entire matter to contractors. These can range in size from large teams to solitary freelancers.

In-house writers can often be seasoned journalists; a good example of this being the leading editors at Visit Florida. Other major destination marketing organisations produce a great deal of content in-house in a similar fashion. For example, Travel Oregon produces 70 percent of its content in-house, but does rely on both bloggers and brand ambassadors to produce the remaining 30 percent. This is the polar opposite of Travel Michigan, which produces only 20 percent of its content in-house, relying on fans across social networks to produce the vast majority of its material.

The more complex a content task becomes, the more likely it is for a destination marketing board to enlist an agency to produce it. While written work can often be dealt with in-house, or via freelancers, complex video marketing and animations often require outside agencies in order to produce them to an acceptably professional standard.

Recruiting External Agencies

With this in mind, the Swiss Tourism Board recently hired the media agency Soubriet Byrne & Associates to assist them with creating a series of lighthearted videos. The series in question was entitled “Swiss Myths”, which tackled a series of commonly held misconceptions about Switzerland in a humorous fashion.

Another example of an outside agency assisting a major DMO involved the Caribbean island of Jamaica. The Jamaica Tourist Board recruited the advertising agency Draft FCB NY to work on its “Bobsled Song” promotion. This campaign built on the reputation that Jamaica has for this sport, which was instigated by the Disney movie “Cool Runnings”.

The Bobsled Song website encouraged visitors to download the song, and then play it at the exact moment that the Jamaica Bobsleigh Team began an important race, even claiming that song synced perfectly with the rhythms of the bobsled track itself.

The move by the Marriott hotel chain to create unique and absorbing online content is indicative of a general trend among both travel-related businesses and destinations to engage customers via this method. All digital marketers should be aware of the importance of this, and also of all the options available to them, and whether in-house work or external recruitment would best serve their particular needs.

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