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Marriott Digital Services’ Business Model Was Turned On Its Head During the Pandemic — See How It Got Things Right

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[©ALTO IMAGES/Stocksy United]

Agility matters. Data can help.

This post is part of our Moment Makers series, which takes a deep dive into how marketers use technology to build data-driven customer experiences that feel natural, relevant, and right on time.

Today’s marketers have more tools than ever before to create excellent customer experiences, show the value of their efforts, and drive growth. But putting marketing data to work is still a challenge for many of us. These are a few big ones we face:

In an industry where the only constant is change, agility is a must. And it’s data that allows marketers to take the pulse of their audience, gauge what’s working (and what isn’t), and stay nimble.

Some brands have figured out how to make this work, and we can all learn from them. Take a look at how Marriott International’s in-house digital agency, Marriott Digital Services (MDS), used data-driven technologies to streamline their systems, flex their strategy, and find new ways to grow.

How Marriott transformed its marketing intelligence capabilities

Marriott International is more than a hotel franchise. In addition to operating 30 different brands, 7,000 hotels, and 1.4 million rooms worldwide, they also have an in-house agency called Marriott Digital Services, which helps over 3,000 hotels drive more traffic to their sites, optimize their content, and execute paid media, among other services. 

Near the end of 2019, MDS started a project to move to a new reporting platform to reduce operating costs, increase efficiency and consistency in reporting for their customers, and improve speed to market. They chose the marketing intelligence platform Salesforce Datorama, part of the Marketing Cloud suite that allows marketers to connect, analyze, and act on data within a centralized system of record. The launch date was scheduled for April 2020.

But the pandemic began in March. Travel stopped. Budgets were cut. Staff was furloughed. COVID-19 had a greater impact on Marriott’s business than the Great Recession and 9/11 combined, shared Chris Robinson, director of customer success at MDS, at the 2020 Limitless conference.

But the team pushed forward, and in four weeks, the new reporting system was up and running with new dashboards, an automated distribution mechanism for reports and standardized analysis, and 500 newly integrated data streams. The end result? A stronger and more efficient data repository that enables MDS to optimize marketing performance and impact for their customers. 

“We managed to reduce our processing time by 50%, make 64 different improvements to the dashboards, and integrate reporting across 10 different sub-teams to create consistency for our customers,” Robinson said. 

This fall, MDS will give their clients direct access to the reporting platform, allowing them to view, filter, and download the dashboards and gain insights faster.

How Marriott uses new data capabilities to grow its service offerings

Datorama also helped MDS overhaul its business model. 

In 2019, it was running 58 programs for 3,800 Marriott hotel clients in 115 countries. The programs operated on an annual-contract basis and cost anywhere from $5,500 to $75,000 to maintain.

However, in 2020, MDS customers were navigating pandemic-related impacts to their budget and operations, and annual contracts aren’t very flexible in a fast-changing landscape. The agency explored how to reduce overhead without sacrificing value.

This August, MDS introduced a new monthly service offering for all of its clients. Solutions now range in price from $75 to $225 and can be scaled up or down based on customer needs. And they can be canceled at any time. 

One of the new monthly solutions is Marriott Digital Services reporting, which grants customers access to Datorama dashboards that show performance metrics on their hotel websites, audience segments, paid media, and SEO without an annual commitment. Other Datorama dashboard solutions are in the works for content, SEO,  and paid media.

“Now that we’re using the Datorama program, our delivery times have been significantly reduced,” Lori Drake, senior manager of Processes and Systems, said at Limitless. “This is going to allow for more time to tackle additional dashboard builds and projects so that we can continue to provide more reporting to our existing clients.”

As we look to 2021, mastering customer data isn’t “nice to have.” It’s an imperative. Now is the time to create a measurement strategy that allows you to optimize your marketing performance and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

Salesforce Datorama enables marketers to optimize their marketing budget for maximum efficiency and ROI. Datorama unifies marketing spend and performance data across channels into one system of record and insight, empowering marketers to measure impact to increase customer engagement, eliminate waste, test and learn, and align all stakeholders.

Jay Wilder Senior Director, Product Marketing

Jay Wilder is the senior director of Product Marketing at Datorama, a Salesforce Company.

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