tech innovation

CES 2015: Hospitality Brands Take Guests on Personalized Tech Journey

Posted by Corey Lewis on December 18, 2014 03:03 PM

The macro-shift toward the consumer is nothing new for the hospitality industry. Trained to anticipate guests' every needs with the reply-and-philosophy of "at your service,” they’ve been perfecting the art of customer-centricity for years. Arguably, they may have even invented it. But, unlike the upstarts and the startups with their nimble teams and their native know-how, some hospitality companies have stumbled to adopt the service mantra for the modern age. 

But not all. In fact, the broader trends that are taking hold of the industry indicate that hospitality brands are still at the forefront, innovating and improving in the built-in consumer focus labs that are their rooms, restaurants, and service spaces. There’s plenty to learn from these leaders, truths that have been R&Ded and are ripe to apply and reinterpret outside the category. 

Let’s take a look at five top trends for today and 2015, the impact of technology—and who’s doing it right:Continue reading...

brand extensions

Marriott Brings Millennial-Targeted AC Hotel Brand to America

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 8, 2014 04:15 PM

Marriott has officially opened the AC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon, a major move in the nearly 60-year old brand’s renaissance as a destination for next-generation travelers, who bring expectations of well-designed hotels with social lobbies for work and play, along with rooms featuring the latest smart tech. 

Founded in 1998, the AC Hotels brand has nearly 80 properties in Spain, Italy, France and Portugal. AC joined the Marriott portfolio in 2011, and the New Orleans property is the first of 100 planned U.S. hotels in the next few years in urban markets including Miami and Washington, D.C.

Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson realizes his company has been suffering from "predictability of room size, predictability of design and consistency," USA Today reports. "I think increasingly, over the last couple of years, (guests are) saying, 'We want that genuine, authentic service, we want to do business with a company we think is good, but let us also have something that turns us on when we travel.'"Continue reading...

brand extensions

Richard Branson Teases Delayed Virgin Hotels Launch

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 14, 2014 02:02 PM

Virgin is taking its disruptive strategy and classic branding from the skies to the lobby, with its first hotel (finally) set to open by year-end. 

A 2 minute animated teaser (produced by Not to Scale with One Trick Pony) has its own language for hotel fails, with hotel shortcomings called, "Unbrilliant."

Virgin's “Brilliant” features, meanwhile, include guest controls the temperature of the room via app, free Wi-Fi and a way to cordon off sleeping and dressing areas.Continue reading...

brand innovation

Marriott Opens Innovation with Content Studio, Co-Creation and MIT Partnership

Posted by Sheila Shayon on October 10, 2014 11:32 AM

Marriott's testing of Oculus Rift for virtual reality-enabled brand experiences is one part of a bigger move to make its brand a platform for customer experience and innovation.

The world's biggest hotel operator, with more than 4,087 properties in 80+ countries, is exploring new avenues, socially and digitally. It's using smart tech, customer co-creation and original content to engage next-generation travelers and drive new business in a great demonstration of what Interbrand calls "The Age of You." And it's getting a helping hand from MIT's Mobile Experience lab and a critical new hire from Disney.

Under the banner of "Travel Brilliantly," the hotelier is reinventing travel (and its brand) including opening a global content studio focused on publishing, distributing and sharing digital and filmed content. 

"The purpose is to create and establish original content as a key component of the company’s global marketing strategy," stated Karin Timpone, Marriott’s global marketing officer, in a press release. “The studio will consist of three groups: a Creative agency, Entertainment and Live – all focused on developing multi-platform content to engage consumers across all screens and formats worldwide.”Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Marriott Renews Vows to LGBT Community with #LoveTravels Campaign

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 2, 2014 01:18 PM

Marriott International is one of many travel companies that have made a point of supporting the LGBT community through events and sponsorships. Now, the company, which is the parent of hotel brands including The Ritz-Carlton and Courtyard, has recruited one of the most significant figures in the LGBT community for its new #LoveTravels campaign. 

The social media and marketing initiative, which launches today in time for June's pride month, features Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player that made headlines last year after making his orientation public in a feature for Sports Illustrated. In addition to wrapping hotels in Washington, DC, the US-focused campaign has a dedicated website and also features related content on Marriott's gay travel sites. Pinpointing the market is a smart move, as LGBT marketing specialist group Out Now estimated the LGBT travel market to hit $181 billion in 2013, according to USA Today

This isn't the first time Marriott has ran an LGBT-focused campaign. #LoveTravels is an extension of its "Be You, With Us" initiative that launched in 2012, which helped the company be named one of the best places to work for LGBT equality by the Human Rights Commission—a surprising honor for a company with a largely conservative board.Continue reading...

brand strategy

No IPO Rush for Airbnb as Lodging Marketplace Capitalizes on Interest

Posted by Mark J. Miller on May 8, 2014 02:22 PM

Airbnb, the online accomodations marketplace that has been shaking up the hotel industry, is headed for an IPO, but not before the San Francisco-based company snagged former Coca-Cola executive Jonathan Mildenhall to be its new CMO.

Life at Airbnb will likely be a bit of culture shock for Mildenhall, as Ad Age notes that the company spent only $300,000 on measured media in 2013, according to Kantar Media reports. That's pocket change for Coke, which plans to boost its media spend up to $1 billion by 2016. However, Mildenhall may have made a smart move since Coca-Cola is going through a shakeup of its own. An internal Coca-Cola memo obtained by Ad Age has it that the changes "will accelerate the profitable growth of Coca-Cola through world class marketing—both in North America and markets around the world." 

Meanwhile, Airbnb pulled in $450 million in funding last month in its latest round of financing, increasing its lifetime investment to $776.4 million and its valuation to $10 billion. But all that new cash doesn't have Airbnb rushing its IPO. 

"Going public is a means, not an end goal," CTO and co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk told Yahoo! Finance. "It's a way of raising capital, and our company is currently very well capitalized, so there's no need to think about an IPO right now."Continue reading...

luxury watch

Tommy Hilfiger Dives In to Hospitality with Miami Beach Hotel Buy

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 11, 2014 11:47 AM

Famed fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger may be turning 63-years-old in a few weeks, but he's not exactly coasting toward retirement. Instead, he's heading off an entirely new business.

Women’s Wear Daily reports that Hilfiger “is negotiating to buy The Raleigh Hotel” in the South Beach area of Miami, which carries a reported $100 million price tag. “I’ve always wanted a hotel property,” Hilfiger said. “We’re going to turn it into a five-star chic hotel with all the amenities.”

The 74-year-old Art Deco hotel won't be Hilfiger's last, either. He has launched Hilfiger Hospitality, a venture centered around "fashion, art, music and entertainment." Hilfiger is reportedly pursuing unique properties in both US and international markets.Continue reading...

luxury watch

Luxury Brands Get Behind Travel Revival with New Products, Experiences

Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 9, 2013 11:22 AM

US consumers seem temporarily frozen in place due to a Federal government shutdown, but that isn't stopping some of the world's best known luxury brands from planning for a rebound of the luxury travel market.

British luxury fashion brand Burberry, for example, has just launched "Travel Tailoring" via a global digital campaign. The new menswear line includes suits with "innovative lightweight construction, lightweight shoulder construction," and "naturally flexible fabrics," according to the company. A "memory fabric" (100 percent merino wool) is designed to resist creasing. Intended for the luxury traveler on the go, the line comes with an equally high-end price: suits start at $1,995, while blazers begin at $1,295. Burberry is no stranger to innovation though when it comes to combining fashion and technology, as it most recently caused a stir by partnering with Apple during its iPhone 5S launch for Fashion Week.Continue reading...

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