Skift Take

Marriott shows its lighter side with a new campaign attempting to inject humor, energy and sex appeal into the select service hotel market to attract a broader Millennial customer base.

On the homepage of the newly redesigned Courtyard by Marriott website, the full-screen slideshow shows a barefoot girl alone in bed with her laptop, a girl drinking wine with a handsome guy, another girl drinking wine with another handsome guy, and a girl drinking craft beer with two handsome guys.

Clearly, the visuals suggest, if you’re a young Millennial woman traveling on business, this is the happening place to be. It’s a hotel experience where you can be as alone or connected as you wish, with a bartender and nattily dressed dude seemingly never too far away.

With no one over the age of 35 pictured throughout the website, Courtyard by Marriott is bearing down hard on the Millennial market with its new “Make Room for a Little Fun” campaign launched this month.

The message: When you’re working on the road alone and camped out at a select service hotel during the early stages of your career, Courtyard by Marriott is there to lift your spirits with its safe, fun-loving vibe and youthful crowd of professionals. And wine. Lots of wine, and martinis and gin and tonics, or craft beer if that’s your thing.

Below the homepage slideshow, there’s the campaign kick-off video showing a young man dancing through a Courtyard by Marriott property to a Jungle Book-ish Broadway beat. As he pirouettes about, he flirts with all kinds of women congregating around the energetic lobby, a video wall, media pods, communal tables, the “Bistro” restaurant, well-lit guest rooms with spacious bathrooms, and long hallways where sassy flight attendants sashay by in sync.

The new campaign is designed to promote and enhance the more breezy lifestyle atmosphere being cultivated at Courtyard. The company is opening up its lobbies with varied seating arrangements, expanding the size and offerings of its Bistro outlets, and fine-tuning room design with modern residential furnishings.

“We are definitely seeing a younger group of guests visiting our hotels which is why we are constantly evolving our design and services to meet their needs and demands,” says Callette Nielsen, VP and global brand manager for Courtyard by Marriott.

She adds that there are almost 1,000 Courtyards located in 38 countries, and in the U.S., “We have great properties in major gateway cities such as New York and Los Angeles in prime locations right by Central Park and LA Live.”

The kinetic dance video below was produced by choreographer Bonnie Story (High School Musical, So You Think You Can Dance) and cinematographer Malik Sayeed, who’s worked with Lauryn Hill, Jay-Z and Prince.

Also part of the new campaign, there’s a series of spry 30-second placements expanding on the central message of injecting levity into your work. The three spots below portray the hard life encountered by vikings, cattle drivers and Yukon fur traders, where unexpectedly, an upbeat character in each one finds a way to enjoy the daily work grind.

In one of them, a brawny viking proclaims his preference for buttery, not too oaky chardonnay to his fellow crew of Norsemen.

The voiceover states: “Some people have to travel for work. Some people get to travel for work.”

So who’s the Courtyard customer today, and what do they want? Who are these rugged oarsmen, cowboys and dogsledders speaking to?

According to Marriott, Generation X/Y comprise 70% of the working population today, expected to grow to 87% of the workforce by 2024.

“Today’s Courtyard guest is driven by success—they travel for work but they enjoy taking a break from the routine to have some fun,” Nielsen told us. For example, “Our media pods and communal tables set the stage for today’s travelers, allowing for flexible spaces that are ideal for both work and socializing.”

That itself isn’t new, but the artistic delivery of this campaign from a brand not exactly celebrated for its good times vibe certainly feels fresh. We’ve all been talking about Millennial travel trends at length, such as a propensity for mixing business and leisure, but we’ve rarely seen that expressed so deliberately at this price point.

Greg Oates covers hospitality and tourism development / email:

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Tags: millennials

Photo Credit: Socializing over drinks is a primary theme of Courtyard by Marriott's new lifestyle-oriented website. Marriott Hotels

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