Rooms Hotels

Fairfield Inn Uses Career Advice to Draw Millennial Guests

@gregoates

May 12, 2014 8:35 am

Skift Take

By sharing real world business advice from top Millennial entrepreneurs and their mentors, Fairfield Inn & Suites found a clever way to inspire and connect with its young business travel customer.

— Greg Oates

Free Report: The State of Student Travel

Fairfield Inn & Suites

The four entrepreneurs kicking off Every Day Connect (from left to right): Eden Full, Kane Sarhan, Meg Gill and Mark Arnoldy Fairfield Inn & Suites


Fairfield Inn & Suites is launching a new brand campaign today called Every Day Connect, themed around the value of mentorships for young professionals.

Built on the Tumblr microblogging platform, the campaign introduces four young successful entrepreneurs and their mentors who guided them through the process of starting and building their businesses. Chosen from this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list, they include Mark Arnoldy, Kane Sarhan, Eden Full and Meg Gill.

Fairfield Inn’s primary goal is to become a source of inspiration for young professionals by showcasing the successes of these four Millennial entrepreneurs and sharing their words of wisdom.

This is an interesting move by Marriott Hotels, which operates Fairfield Inn. It’s attempting to make the select service hotel category not only relevant to Millennial travelers, but cool as well. That’s no small feat. The galvanizing concept around the push is: “We’re young. We did this. You can too.”

For example, Mark Arnoldy (27) is CEO of Possible, a non-profit healthcare company delivering medicine to the world’s poorest communities. His mentor is Jeff Kaplan, a partner at the Deerfield Management investment firm specializing in healthcare.

“It’s never been more clear that it’s time to build something or join something that’s serving a market of needs, rather than a market of wants,” says Arnoldy.

Kaplan adds, “My advice would be: Don’t be afraid. Fall on your butt. Get back up again, keep moving, meet as many interesting people as you can possibly meet.”

The brains behind Fairfield’s Every Day Connect believe that type of dialogue between the young upstarts and their mentors will inspire the hotel brand’s business guests to examine their own professional relationships. In effect, Fairfield is taking on the role of a mentor itself in an effort to build similar relationships with its own business travel guests.

“Good advice and the opportunity to connect with our customers and the people who really made a difference in their careers is one of the ways we felt we could help support this traveler as they’re trying to maintain their professional momentum,” says Shruti Buckley, VP and global brand manager of Fairfield Inns & Suites. “For us, it was really important to understand: How do we build that same type of connection and those relationships with these folks? What is important to them, and how do they want to succeed and move forward as they look at their future?”

After surveying over 1,000 adults over 21, Buckley and her team discovered over 75% of the respondents said they valued the people who helped them in their career trajectory and played a significant role in defining their business philosophy.

Buckley says that was their cue. If there was an untapped demand for guidance and support among the young business community, who are feeling a little overwhelmed in today’s job climate, then Fairfield Inn could step in and provide that guidance.

“I think this program really gives us a platform to say here’s how we can support you as you’re building your future,” says Buckley. “This is what we can bring to the table.”

There is a refreshing lack of contrived marketing-speak in the launch video for this campaign. The candor of the four young entrepreneurs, who are speaking from the heart about what it takes to succeed in business today, will resonate with Fairfield’s target audience.

There isn’t any soaring idealism. These are just a group of kids who learned the ropes early, sharing what they think will help anyone their age in any industry. And with them, their mentors are present almost like silent wingmen content to let their protégés have the stage.

“I think were doing this in a way that’s really authentic because we’re doing it with these travelers who have these inspirational stories,” explains Buckley. “We’re hoping it will inspire other people who have similar hopes and dreams to bring them to life, and for us to be a support mechanism behind that.”

A second phase of Every Day Connect is presently under development, whereby anyone will be able to reach out to their mentors to share their stories on the Every Day Connect platform.

In June, Fairfield is launching a Twitter contest asking consumers questions about how mentors inspired them. The winners will be flown to New York to meet the entrepreneurs featured in the campaign, which will then be featured in videos and other content on the Tumblr site.

That type of reality television-style programming is surprisingly innovative for a middle-of-the-road brand like Fairfield. It’s aligned with Marriott’s new emphasis toward online co-creation and communication with today’s young business traveler, who will eventually become tomorrow’s frequent business traveler.

“We’re really looking at that Gen X/Gen Y next gen traveler,” sums up Buckley. “We know that in the next few years they’re going to make up the bulk of travelers staying at our hotels.”

Greg Oates covers hotel/tourism development and travel brand media. He has toured over 1,000 hotels in 50+ countries. email / twitter

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