John Wolf, Senior Director of Public Relations at Marriott International discusses in an interview some of the strategic thinking behind the TownePlace Suites 'Make-a-Bed' Program. www.facebook.com/makeabed
When you make a virtual bed at the promotion's Facebook page, Marriott will donate $2 to the Red Cross, up to $50,000. The Red Cross will use the money to provide comfort kits to people in need. Comfort kits include soap, razor, toothbrush and the like. By making a bed, participants are also entered to win a free extended stay at TownePlace Suites, and other secondary prizes, such as Flip Cameras.
1. How did the Marriott / TownePlace Suites campaign come about?
Community service is at the core of Marriott International’s culture and TownePlace Suites has been a leading brand in giving back to communities where it does business. In this case, the Make a Bed Facebook application was a perfect fit. TownePlace Suites is an extended stay brand, serving people primarily on travel for weeks to months at a time with features, such as guest suites, kitchens, 24/7 access to food and beverage, and the TowneMap that familiarizes guests with the neighborhood. Because of these services and amenities, TownePlace Suites also serves guests who have been victims of disasters, as well as disaster relief workers.
We wanted to incorporate all these elements into a meaningful promotion with the American Red Cross that celebrated community while connecting with our guests online.
3. What was the goal of having it focus on Facebook?
Many of our guests spend a considerable amount of time on Facebook. In order to maximize the effectiveness of the program and its accompanying donation, we believed Facebook would be the best way to introduce TownePlace Suites to a new audience in a meaningful way, while ensuring success with the program. It's been a great decision and in a month more than 6,000 people have "made beds," so far.
5, 6. How will you measure success? How is Marriott's donation structured? That is, does Marriott guarantee a certain amount? What's the cap on how much Marriott will donate?
The ultimate success is raising the full $50,000 donation limit for American Red Cross Disaster Relief. If we do nothing else, the program will have been a huge success. We also are measuring awareness and consideration for TownePlace Suites with users who have engaged with the program, using a variety of engagement metrics (Likes, views of videos in the application, sharing, surveys, etc.).
8. How did Marriott choose the Red Cross as a partner?
We have long admired their work and as part of the Marriott family, have had long-standing relationship with the Red Cross in the aftermath of disasters. With over 190 TownePlace Suites locations, we are an active part of many communities across the country. Every day, the American Red Cross helps with disasters that sometimes touch those communities, from house fires to hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes.
9. The Red Cross is one of the top two or three largest charities in the U.S. And it's the only one with a Federal Charter. But it has had a reputation as being a little fusty when it comes to marketing. What concerns did Marriott about that?
We had none. The American Red Cross could not be a better partner. They have been fully engaged throughout the project.
10. TownePlace Suites is Marriott's long-term stay brand. What about long-term stay made this campaign appropriate for a relationship with the Red Cross?
As an extended-stay brand, TownePlace Suites serves primarily business travelers away from home for weeks to months at a time. Therefore, it naturally has also been a hotel brand of choice for people recovering from disasters, and for those that respond to disasters, such as the American Red Cross.