Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


IDEAS: Marriott International Introduces Neuroinclusive Practices at Meetings and Events

3 months ago

Marriott International has announced a partnership with The Neu Project, an initiative from Google’s Experience Institute (Xi), in an effort to create a more neuroinclusive experience for event attendees.  

Under the new partnership, all customer meetings and events of over 250 people that are hosted by Marriott will incorporate a range of neuroinclusive initiatives, including:

  • A dedicated quiet room that will be available for attendees to use in order to recover from sensory overwhelm.
  • A range of tools and resources available upon request at registration, including sensory & fidget toys, noise canceling ear plugs, sleep masks, sunglasses, printed agendas and venue maps.
  • A full schedule of event details, including information when there may be loud music, flashing lights or surprise moments during the event program.
  • Real-time captioning and subtitles on-screen during main stage programming.

According to a press release, Marriott has collaborated closely with The Neu Project over the last two years to learn directly from the neurodivergent community.

“Grounded in our commitments to innovation and inclusion, Marriott is dedicated to making meetings and events more accessible for everyone,” said Drew Pinto, executive vice president and chief revenue & rechnology Officer at Marriott International in the release.

“The Neu Project is a driving force in this space, and we look forward to working jointly with them, along with the neurodivergent community, to deepen our understanding of neurodivergent needs in order to truly welcome all.”

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


IDEAS: JW Marriott Encourages Guests to ‘Stay in the Moment’ with New Asia-Pacific Campaign

3 months ago

JW Marriott has launched a new Asia-Pacific campaign, taking inspiration from the K-drama genre and starring South Korean actor, Lee Min-ho. 

The three-minute video titled ‘Stay in the Moment’, tells the story of a headstrong son and his family, who face their issues and overcome barriers by embracing the life moments provided through the shared experiences of travel.

You can view the video below:

The campaign has been created to ‘underscore the beauty of human connections’, by emphasizing the strong familial bonds that are forged in unforgettable moments, said JW Marriot in a press release. 

“The ‘Stay in the Moment’ campaign focuses on the discerning luxury traveler who seeks well-being, mindfulness and profound connections-all the elements that speak to the spirit of the JW Marriott brand,” said John Toomey, chief sales & marketing officer Asia Pacific, Marriott International. 

“Lee Min-ho’s starring performance in the campaign video beautifully captures the JW Marriott experience, embodying the holistic and inspirational moments that shape our journeys and enrich our lives.”

Skift Ideas uncovers the most creative and forward-thinking innovations happening across travel. We celebrate innovation through our Skift IDEA Awards and hear from leaders on our Ideas podcast.

You can listen and subscribe to the Skift Ideas Podcast through your favorite podcast app here.


MGM Expects $50M-$75M Incremental Revenues in 2024 With Marriott Partnership

4 months ago

Even though the big MGM-Marriott loyalty & booking partnership that was announced earlier this year with much fanfare has been delayed until early 2024 — ostensibly due to MGM’s cybersecurity threat which derailed much of its business over weeks — MGM CEO Bill Hornbuckle is very bullish about it.

In its Q3 earnings call earlier this week, Hornbuckle said that the company will begin to see the benefits of the partnership pretty quickly in 2024 soon after it launches. In response to an analyst question of whether this delay in launch means that MGM won’t see the incremental revenues in 2024 and whether the gains would be pushed to 2025, he said:

“No, I think it’s ’24 because I think the booking cycle for Las Vegas, even with this group [of Marriott Bonvoy users] because we’ve seen it obviously mirrored Cosmopolitan [which MGM now owns and has been part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection] is pretty much in line with everything else. They go a little earlier because they want to make sure they can use their points, et cetera. But there’s a clear window over the next couple of months. So once we launch it, we think it ramps fairly quickly.

And I think by the third and fourth quarter of next year, this time next year, we ought to be — have a real good feel for what it’s going to provide. The group activity that will be part of it is a little different discussion and we’ll take more time given the obvious nature and cycle of that business. And remember, I think the first year, we’re looking for $50 million to $75 million in incremental [revenues].

And there’s nothing to believe even despite the delay candidly, there’s nothing to believe we won’t recognize or realize that.”


Marriott Bonvoy Launches Miami App-Based City Tour

6 months ago

Marriott Bonvoy has launched a self-paced walking tour, Capture the City Miami, curated in partnership with Greater Miami and Miami Beach and local fashion blogger Daniela Ramirez

Available as a mobile app, the tour showcases an interactive map with tips and content created by Ramirez, aka @nany.

Developed as part of the Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty program, the walking tour can be purchased and downloaded according to the size of the group, ranging in price from $59 for 1 to 4 guests up to $159 for 9 to 12 guests. Additionally, it includes “$200 in perks” per person “to experience the best food, photo opportunities, and culture” across the city’s South Beach, Design District, Wynwood, and Little Havana neighborhoods. 

Some of the experiences included on the city tour:    

  • Browse Baccarat’s beautiful and colorful crystal and enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne at the BBar and Lounge.
  • The Museum of Graffiti in Wynwood, featuring indoor and outdoor exhibitions, with colorful murals by artists from around the globe, with a 25% discount on ticket price.
  • Havana 1957, an authentic Cuban restaurant on Ocean Drive for a complimentary traditional mojito with the purchase of an entree.

The tour is meant to give guests “another way to experience the power of travel,” according to a Marriott Bonvoy spokesperson who confirmed there are no plans to roll out similar standalone app experiences for any other popular cities at this point. 

Marriott Bonvoy has the most hotel loyalty program members, at about 180 million. The program has looked to create immediately accessible experiences for its members, having recently launched its Marriott Bonvoy One Point Moments in June.


Marriott CEO Frames Yacht-Like Cruises as a Bet on Luxury and Loyalty

1 year ago

Marriott International CEO Anthony Capuano on Tuesday toured the Evirma, the first sailing vessel in The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Capuano said in an interview that yacht-style cruises on the 623-foot Evrima — which hosts fewer than 300 people at a time — represent an important pillar of growth for the world’s largest hotel operator by pulling the levers of loyalty and luxury.

More than 70 percent of the bookings since the first October sailing has come from members of Marriott’s Bonvoy loyalty program, and the company sees the yachts as a way to fill in the matrix of interest in its program members.

“Luxury is a big part of the appeal of the Bonvoy program and a big driver of engagement with Bonvoy,” Capuano said.

Fares on the Evrima start at a minimum of $5,000 per person for a week and can rise beyond $25,000 per person.

Drone shot of the Evrima, a custom-built ship from The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Source: Marriott International.

About 70 percent of Evirma passengers have never been on the cruise before. So the offering is a way to leverage the Ritz Carlton brand name for additional spending from an existing customer base.

“It is core to our strategy to continue to look for ways to connect ourselves with our loyal customers throughout their travel journeys, whether you and I were talking about Marriott Homes and Villas or the launch of a mid-scale like City Express or the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection — they are all touchpoints that allow us to meet the needs of our consumers without ever looking outside the ecosystem,” Capuano said.

Yacht-style itineraries enable a more leisurely pace with more overnights in port than the typical large luxury cruise offers, plus the ability to access and explore smaller ports, such as Saint-Tropez, Ibiza, and St. Barts.

But playing in the luxury space has its perils. The more complex the product and the more high-touch the service, the more room there is for cost overruns. Spanish media have reported on financial filings from a shipyard claiming that the Evirma was budgeted at $300 million but cost twice as much.

Capuano said that the last few years brought a laundry list of “unusual challenges to owner economics,” with a mix of problems affecting supply chains. However, he said his company has long experience in executing luxury products well.

Marriott is the first of its hotel and resort peer companies to test the waters on yacht-style cruising, but three other companies in recent months — Four Seasons, Aman, and Orient Express — announced plans to offer luxurious yacht-style cruise lines.

A “grand suite” on the Evrima, a vessel that’s one of the custom-built yachts in The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Photo by Francisco Martinez. Source: Marriott International.

More broadly, luxury is a key segment in Capuano’s vision for company growth.

“I continue to drive focus within the organization on luxury,” Capuano said. “Luxury represents about 10 percent of our global room inventory but about 20 percent of revenues through related fees. So from a purely economic perspective, the luxury portfolio and footprint are critically important.”

Marriott runs nearly 500 luxury hotels and resorts, with plans to open about 35 more luxury hotels this year out of a pipeline of roughly 200 properties.

“You can continue to see us make investments movements of dedicated capital to ensure that we maintain our significant lead in the luxury tier,” Capuano said. “We have a singularly unique portfolio in that we have a really compelling blend of classic luxury brands like Ritz Carlton and Saint Regis and emerging lifestyle luxury brands like Edition and W Hotels.”


Marriott Partners With Alipay In China on Bonvoy Perks

2 years ago

Marriott International has signed a new partnership with China’s Ant Group, which owns online payment platform Alipay, to help it drive more business in the region.

Marriott will now give Alipay members a range of benefits when they sign up to Marriott’s loyalty program Bonvoy, including digital coupons for an afternoon tea at its hotels, or the chance to enter a lucky draw by spending at the hotel.

Breakfast promotions are also offered at various cities, including Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Chengdu and Sanya.

The tie-up is the latest deal in its plan to leverage loyalty to bolster its presence in across Asia.

The hotel group already has a joint venture with e-commerce giant Alibaba in China. Marriott considers its storefront on Fliggy, Alibaba’s travel division where it sells its global hotel inventory, to be a direct-booking channel with costs that are lower than going through online travel agency distribution.

Marriott said this latest Alipay partnership is in addition to the 10-plus million newly-enrolled members the company has gained through various channels since 2017 in China, including through Fliggy, as well as other Ant initiatives.

Marriott International has 450 operating hotels across 23 brands in Greater China.

“To support the recovery of the travel industry, we are looking to offer exclusive travel experiences for high-net-worth members using Alipay,” said Henry Lee, President, Greater China, Marriott International.

Marriott has previously launched Korea’s first-ever co-branded hotel credit cards, and two new co-branded cards have also been launched in Japan.

“Marriott Bonvoy really is at the heart of our consumer strategy and we are doing everything we can to grow the program,” Bart Buiring, chief sales and marketing officer for Asia Pacific at Marriott International, previously said.