All travelers can already access more than 2,200 TED Talks online. Marriott and TED will need to differentiate the content enough to make it compelling for guests and loyalty members to want to tap into, as well as market it effectively.
Today, the company announced it was partnering with nonprofit TED, the organization behind the popular TED Conference in Vancouver and TEDx events, to bring TED Talks, blogs, and content to its guests worldwide.
TED will work with Marriott to curate content around the themes of “curiosity, innovation, travel, and entrepreneurship,” with themes changing on a quarterly basis. Guests can access the content during their stays via in-room entertainment when they log onto Wi-Fi, and Marriott-exclusive videos will also appear on Marriott’s social-media channels.
“Through our partnership with Marriott Hotels, we hope to further expand our mission to a community of global travelers who are curious and engaged,” said Lisa Choi Owens, chief revenue officer and head of partnerships for TED. “Marriott will be a supporter of our TED Fellows initiative by spotlighting individuals within the program at salon-style events at Marriott Hotels throughout the year.”
The partnership also includes a series of five TED Talks Fellows salons at Marriott properties in Bellevue, Wash. (near Seattle), London, Dubai, Bangkok, and Santiago, beginning this year and continuing through 2017. During these events, guests have an opportunity to attend a live TED event with TED Fellows. The first will be held at the Marriott Bellevue in Seattle.
Marriott Hotels’ vice president and global brand leader, Matthew Carroll, said this partnership was developed as a way to “evolve and elevate the hotel experience to meet the changing needs of our guests — a unique group of frequent global travelers who succeed in their personal and professional lives through creative, inventive thinking. They truly appreciate that travel gives them a chance to step outside their normal routines and encounter new people and places.”
He added, “When you’re on the road, that’s when the best ideas come to you, or you start to see a new angle to an existing problem. This is a unique benefit of travel that our target consumer really value. Together with TED, we hope to offer our guests fun and engaging moments of fresh inspiration that inspire new perspectives.”
More for Meetings
An added benefit of this new partnership is that meeting planners organizing events at Marriott Hotels will also have access to what Marriott called an “inspirational menu” of TED assets that they can use for their corporate groups.
“Curated TED Talks playlists will be developed for our brand’s meeting planners to leverage when building out agendas or work as inspiration for corporate groups,” Carroll said. “The ultimate goal is to offer a great tool that will enhance the event experience for our guests.”
Marriott said there is no additional fee for meeting planners to have access to this content for their meetings at Marriott Hotels.
Thought Leadership: A Continuing Hotel Trend
Marriott Hotels isn’t the first hotel company to rely on thought leadership-driven activations or programming to stir up interest among its guests and designate its hotels as platforms for knowledge sharing.
Since 2010, Omni Hotels & Resorts, a chain that specializes in group business, has hosted TED-like talks to build up brand loyalty with meeting and event planners who bring meetings to its properties.
The newest brand from Red Lion Hotels Corp., Hotel RL, also relies on TED Talks-style programming in its lobbies, which are designed more like theater/auditorium spaces with stages and tiered seating.
Earlier this year, Marriott also embarked on a partnership with Create & Cultivate, a group that hosts conferences for female entrepreneurs. Working with Create & Cultivate, Marriott launched a new content series called Create & Innovate that highlights female entrepreneurs and includes travel-oriented content geared specifically toward Create & Cultivate’s audience.
But will the TED content accessible via Marriott be compelling enough to distinguish it from the content TED already has? Given TED’s global popularity and reputation — and the fact that more than 22,000 TED Talks can be easily accessed online — we asked TED what will make this exclusive Marriott content unique.
TED’s Owens said, “We’ll be developing original videos, customize existing content from blogs and quote that thoughtfully align with Marriott’s mission through our curated lens aimed at inspiring travelers. Additionally, we’ll be organizing playlists of thematic content aimed at inspiring travelers through the Marriott network.”
The more intimate salon-style events will also add another more personal dimension for guests and locals alike who may never have experienced a TED Talk in person. That combination of bringing together live, physical events with a virtual network of videos and content is something TED has already successfully executed on its own platform, too.
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Photo credit: The Marriott Bellevue in Washington State will host the first TED Talks Fellows salon in a series of five events taking place worldwide as part of Marriott's new partnership with TED. Marriott Hotels