Deft brands are lubricating the purchase funnel and reducing dependency on traditional media partners by creating direct-to-consumer platforms that offer a chance to stray from traditional formats. As noted in L2’s inaugural Intelligence Report: Content & Commerce, these new types of content deliver relevance and resonance vs. reach and frequency. In 2013 Content Marketing surpassed Email and Social Media as the leading focus of marketers worldwide.
Among prestige hotels, adding content to brand websites is an increasingly popular means to enhance the destination experience. In 2014 L2’s Digital IQ Index: Prestige Hotels found a year-over-year increase in adoption of various content elements across brand sites.
For instance, the editorial content that populates the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts site includes “Extraordinary Experiences,” a set of videos and vignettes designed to immerse visitors in destination activities. Now, Gifted brand Marriott has launched Marriott Traveler, intended to grow into one of its primary online content hubs and integrate travel media different channels.
In the first week of launch, content focuses on New Orleans and additional U.S. and possibly global destinations to be added throughout the year. Calls to action include a booking engine in the footer and a “Find a Hotel on Marriott.com” link in the nav bar.
Signaling its commitment to branded content, Marriott opened a content studio last December and installed a former Variety editor as editorial director. The focus for Traveler, however, is less on creating content and more on teaming up with creators like popular travel vlogger Sonia Gil, who is producing videos for the site.
In terms of video, Marriott is already a star performer on YouTube. L2’s Prestige Hotels report found that as of April 2014, Marriott had the No. 2 YouTube channel among indexed hotel brands, in part due to the “Travel Brilliantly” campaign. Just this month Marriott’s content studio launched Two Bellmen, in which ninja-like bellmen at a JW Marriott humorously foil art thieves. The ambitious 17-minute film has racked up nearly 3.3 million views in the two weeks since it landed on YouTube.