29 AUGUST 2022


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Article from BTNews 29 AUGUST 2022

ON THE SOAPBOX: Neal Jones, Marriott International

Loyalty programmes are clearly the way forward for the hotel industry as it follows the airlines in finding ways to attract and retain clientele.

Neal Jones, Chief Sales & Marketing Officer, Marriott International, EMEA, discusses this fast-developing revolution in the way bookings are made, and how he sees the post-Covid scene. Neal started his career at Marriott International in London over 20 years ago.

Marriott is the largest hotel chain in the world by the number of available rooms. It has 30 brands with 8,000 properties containing 1,423,044 rooms in 131 countries and territories.  Marriott Bonvoy is the Marriott hotel company's loyalty programme, allowing travellers to earn and redeem points for stays at Bonvoy brands including The Ritz-Carlton, St Regis, JW Marriott, Sheraton, Westin and Renaissance Hotels.#####

“As the travel industry recovers from the global pandemic, retaining and gaining customer loyalty is even more important now than it ever has been. Marriott Bonvoy is Marriott International’s all-encompassing travel programme with over 169 million members globally. Members earn and redeem points seamlessly across 30 participating hotel brands, which include over 8,100 hotels in 139 countries and territories, as well as our home rental offering Homes & Villas by Marriott International.

Keeping our loyalty members engaged throughout the pandemic was one of our major areas of focus, however it wasn’t always easy. During the height of the pandemic in April 2020, we had over 70% of our hotels closed so we had to think creatively to find new ways to enable members to engage with our brands and earn loyalty points, even during lockdowns. Ultimately, we wanted to continue to inspire our members to plan travel, even when the ability to move across borders was limited.

Our Marriott Bonvoy credit cards were essential to helping members in the UK and UAE continue to earn points during this time. We worked in partnership with our credit card partners, such as AMEX and Emirates NBD Bank, to offer valuable offers to our customers such as cash-back promotions and bonus points. Even now as international travel has returned, we still see great demand for our Marriott Bonvoy credit cards as they allow card members the chance to earn Marriott Bonvoy points on daily spend while also giving them access to exclusive benefits, offers and experiences across our portfolio. Our co-brand credit cards continue to drive significant revenue, with data showing that cardholders who are members book direct more, spend more and stay more.

Now customers are back in our hotels, we continue to offer rich promotions to our members. These include points promotions, such as our current one, which offers a 25% bonus on purchases of 2,000 or more Marriott Bonvoy points up until September 15th.  We also offer members exciting experience driven campaigns such as the annual Week of Wonders initiative coming soon, which will give members the opportunity to access limited time deals and once-in-a-lifetime experiences in incredible destinations.

Giving our loyalty members access to money-can’t-buy experiences through Marriott Bonvoy Moments is one of the most valued elements of the Marriott Bonvoy travel programme. These Moments enable our guests to make memories, forge new connections and enjoy some incredible once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Marriott Bonvoy will continue to debut one-of-a-kind Moments, encompassing incredible music, sport, cultural and culinary experiences, in new locations around the world throughout the rest of 2022 and into 2023.  In addition to hotel events, Moments also include unique experiences through long-standing Marriott Bonvoy relationships with the NFL, Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, Manchester United and the O2 Arena in London.

We have also worked hard over the last couple of years to ensure that our members have a seamless booking experience. It’s now easier than ever for our customers to book online with 12 new language sites, including Turkish, Polish and the newly launched Hebrew site. In addition, this year we rolled out enhancements to the Android version of our popular Marriott Bonvoy App. This allows for a frictionless experience before and during a stay and gets smarter the more you interact with it. Travellers can now more easily browse and book our full offering of hotels, home rentals and experiences. They can also earn and redeem points through tailored offers to make a stay with us even more rewarding.

This focus on loyalty has helped Marriott International come out of the pandemic stronger and more agile than ever before. Covid-19 was undoubtedly the biggest challenge that has ever impacted our company. It not only shifted travellers’ expectations, but it fundamentally changed human attitudes and behaviours at a speed we’ve never seen before. All organisations, including ours, had to adapt and respond quickly.

Earlier this month, we announced outstanding second quarter results which were driven by strong demand for our portfolio of 30 brands around the world. While we knew there would be significant pent-up demand for travel post the pandemic, it has been encouraging to see how quickly travellers have returned to our hotels. By June, revenue per available room (RevPAR) in all regions outside of Asia Pacific had more than fully recovered to pre‐pandemic levels, leading to June global RevPAR 1% above 2019 levels. Worldwide occupancy for the month rose to 71%, just 5% points below pre‐pandemic levels, with global average daily rate (ADR) an impressive 8% over the same month in 2019.

Europe has experienced the fastest RevPAR recovery of all our regions this year, due to a strong return of international travel. With borders open across Europe, the room nights from international guests more than doubled in the region from Q1 to Q2. While leisure travel has without doubt driven the recovery so far, we are also seeing group and business transient demand return, though at a more moderate pace.

We will continue to use the power of Marriott Bonvoy to deepen engagement and loyalty with our 169 million members worldwide. It’s safe to say that the last three years have been a rollercoaster for the travel industry, but the speed of the recovery demonstrates a societal shift towards spending on experiences as opposed to goods, and with the largest footprint in the industry, and an improving travel environment, we are confident in the continued demand for travel.


Also see in this week's BTN AND FINALLY: Delta is not an airline

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