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Marriott Storms Twitter, Becomes Local On-Demand Player

To mark the launch of Mobile Requests, the Marriott set up social media headquarters in New York City and ignited a hashtag trend. It also embarked on a new phase.

Early morning commuters in NYC on Thursday may have noticed an unusual sight in and around subway stations — what appeared to bellhops in red coats handing out flowers and gift cards to businesses like Starbucks. Plastered on the goodies was the hashtag, #AppYourService.

This was all part of a campaign by Marriott to inaugurate the latest addition to its loyalty rewards program, Mobile Request, which was simultaneously introduced at 46 Marriott hotels and will launch globally this summer across the entire portfolio of the Marriott Hotels brand. The service allows guests to request special services and amenities up to 24 hours before their stay at a Marriott location. The in-app tool also enables guests to have a real-time two-way text conversation with a hotel concierge, with its “Anything Else?” feature.

Jennifer Utz, VP of Marriott’s Buzz Marketing and Partnerships, says that the goal of handing out gifts and spreading the word in the “early tweeting hours” was to get New Yorkers to google the hashtag and discover it on Twitter — and find there were possibly more surprises to be had.

Marriott's Social Media Command Center In Times Square
Marriott’s Social Media Command Center In Times Square

In Social Command

Users were encouraged to tweet the hashtag — a pun on the hotel chain’s longstanding “At Your Service” phone button — at Marriott’s Twitter handle followed by a request for any gift or amenity. Social media analytics company Sysomos, which formed a partnership with Marriott, had a social media command center set up in Times Square where Utz says the Marriott was tracking the hashtag mentions as they came in.

Real-time data visualization provider Tickr was also part of the effort, as was location-based audience platform Ground Signal, Utz says, to determine where in Manhattan Marriott’s street teams needed to be in order to distribute the tweeters’ winnings.

The effort was hugely successful.

“Just from doing two to three hours of piquing people’s interest this morning and handing out random acts of service, [#AppYourService] really caught on and began organically trending on Twitter, which is just we wanted,” Utz says. “We didn’t do much pre-promotion.”

The Demand For On Demand

While the campaign didn’t require much pre-promoting there was a good deal of planning. And a lot of listening.

“We formed our partnership Sysmos to help us from a global social  listening perspective,” Utz says, adding that forming the partnership with Sysomos was among her first priorities in her role at Buzz, which she took on last August. “We tap into conversations throughout the globe and glean insights into what people want.”

People not only want free gifts (who doesn’t?) — they more importantly want to get what they want when they want it, and they want to be able to order it via their smartphones. The hotel has already enabled its rewards members to check-in via their mobile app, and Mobile Request is the latest move by Marriott to prove its commitment to mobile. But it’s also a new phase for the hotel chain, wherein it’s looking to serve the local on-demand consumer who turns to their smartphone whenever they need something.