Marriott is leading the competition to buy Starwood Hotels & Resorts. While Starwood flirted briefly last week with a group bid led by China’s Anbang Insurance Group, the company said today that it would accept Marriott’s new offer of $13.6 billion.
The merger would bring together two digital leaders in the hotel space. Marriott holds the top spot in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels, while the Starwood portfolio receives top honors among multi-brand enterprises, with no brands registering a Digital IQ below 120.
Marriott earns its Genius ranking thanks to savvy investments in video content and social media – Marriott was the first hotel brand on Snapchat – as well as in the critical realm of search visibility. Most leisure travelers begin planning a trip “totally undecided” on accommodations and type in broad, destination-related search terms, making it imperative for Hotel brands to show up at the top of those results. Marriott maintains impressive organic visibility for terms like city names across a range of test markets.
Meanwhile, Starwood maintains best practices across its portfolio. Brand sites consistently stand out with regards to booking search and property pages; the latter integrate user-generated content pulled from Instagram, providing users with an in-depth look at properties sortable to match their specific interests. The gallery also expertly combines content and commerce by adding a large “Book Now” button to each image. As the bidding for Starwood heats up, the eventual buyer will benefit from these strategic investments in digital.