When it comes to developing a brand and building the customer base by maintaining loyalty nothing can be as crucial as a viable marketing strategy. Marketing managers say that creating a brand awareness and campaigns are quite nerve-wrecking tasks and include numerous risks and failure. This report is based on the marketing strategies of one of the major hospitality group-Marriott International will be discussed thoroughly. The idea behind developing this document is to understand the impact different marketing strategies on the hospitality industry. Not only this, the report will also highlight the importance of consumers on the environment of hospitality sector. A major part will cover the different segments of the hospitality market along with the assessment of the significance of the components of the marketing. Furthermore, an analysis of the pricing strategies of the Marriot International and their policies will be carried out in relation to the industry. Once the aforementioned tasks are done, an evaluation will be carried out in order to understand the effect of implementing the marketing plan for a particular product.
Marketing is the process of promoting the products and services. Before moving further to the marketing concepts, let’s first understand the difference between the products and services. Products are tangible assets and can be physically touched, whereas the services are intangible. Customers can return or replace products if it is of poor quality. Another feature of product is that its ownership is transferable. On the other hand, services can only be sensed and its ownership cannot be transferred. Moreover, a products are developed as per the needs and wants of consumer, whereas the services are designed to strengthen customer relationship.
Marriott International, Inc. (MAR) is one of the major lodging organisation across the world with 6500+ properties in more than 127 countries. In 2017, the overall revenue of this company crossed $22 billion benchmark. Talking about the average occupancy rate (worldwide) in 2017, it was reported to be 66.5%.
Hospitality industry is full of challenges that are unique and must be handled at the earliest as the market is competitive and unstable. The sales in this sector are varying and unique as they consist of both tangible and intangible services. These services are more of marketing services and the success lies within developing the right feeling in the customer. Marriott International Inc., aims at cultivating a recreational, fun, and relaxing environment that inspires the same emotions in the customer.
There are five concepts of marketing philosophy as given below:-
Marriott International Inc. came up with a marketing campaign- “Golden Rule” for featuring it four major brands, namely Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Courtyard by Marriott, and Four Points by simultaneously for the first time. The advertisement campaign was shown on multiple screens, mobile ads, social media, in flights(Alon and Wang, 2012).
Apart from this, one of the mainstream marketing strategies is the relationship marketing. This is a part of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) that emphasise long-term customer loyalty and engagement instead of short-term objectives, such as customer acquisition. The aim of relationship marketing is to create the brand image by creating strong emotional connection with the consumers. Relationship marketing is taking place of traditional approaches of marketing. The latter used to focus on promoting the individual sales. To bring the loyalty in the customer, relationship marketing is the key instrument. Interesting point here is that relationship marketing is based on the principles of Customer Experience Management (CEM). The CEM aims to strengthen the customer relationship by bringing the element of loyalty.
Launching the customer loyalty programmes, whereby customers are offered rewards and gifts for choosing the hospitality services of the Marriott International on regular basis. They understand the significance of a good customer relationships.
The year 2017 was very rewarding for the Marriott International Inc., as their revenue touched a new landmark. The credit for which goes to its efficient marketing strategies that had a major impact on the competitive market. From videos to online reviews, its strategies included every hospitality market trends that provided it an edge over others(Alon and Wang, 2012).
Marketing environment is characterised by internal and external factors that impact the organisation’s capabilities to form a grounded relationship with its customers and serve them in the best way possible. In the UK, the hospitality sector had witnessed a major transformation since 1978, when economy reformed into the market-oriented one. This change develop a superior environment for the hospitality sector to expand. Marketing environment is important from the business’s perspective. Marriott International Inc., had operated under the transforming economies and market instabilities since 1927. According to the marketing manager of Marriott, there are two varieties in marketing environment i.e., macro and micro. These factors are beyond the reach of the marketers and can influence the marketing strategy(Gustavo, 2013).
Speaking of the micro environment, managers usually refer to the Porter’s five forces that assist in exploring how five forces influence the balance of power in a situation. These five forces include supplier power, buyer power, competitiveness, substitution, and threat from the new entrant. These factors are explained below:
To study about the macro environment, PESTLE analysis the most apt way to do it. PESTLE analysis is used to determine the effects of six factors as discussed below on the consumers:-
In context of Marriott International, economic circumstances may impact the customer’s decision-making process and firm’s production (Wang, et.al, 2012). Technology also plays an important role in smooth functioning of the business operations. Apart, from this legal policies (environmental policies, taxation system, patents, government stability, and corporate laws) and social factors (lifestyles,household size, working capacity, etc.) have a significant part in hindering the business’s growth. Marriott International did not ignore these factors and became the number 1 hospitality organisation of the world. They studied the role of suppliers, customers, competition, and resellers in the business functionality and included them in their strategic plan as one of the objectives. This improved the success of the marketing plan and the brand image in the long run(Hu, et.al, 2015).
The consumer market comprises the end users who avail the hospitality services. Here, the liberty lies with the customer to take decisions of his/her own regarding the purchase of goods and services. The more people are interested in buying or availing the services, the more active the market is. The hospitality sector contains a very big market can be further divided on the basis of age, gender, comforts, lifestyles, culture, demography, etc., (Hsu, et.al, 2012).
Marriott International Inc., are now investing in the societies where they aim at doing business via “Spirit to serve communities”. They take social responsibilities and carry out some initiatives to engage the community(Kumar, 2015).As given in its Sustainable and Social Impact Report 2025, the organisation will contribute 15M hours to community engagement strategy. It will invest $5M in the development of hospitality skills in youth.Talking about the consumer market relevance in the hospitability sector, it has been noticed that hotels have turned out to be the major location to host the family functions, such as wedding receptions, business meetings, and conventions. The features that give hotels an extra edge over other venues are: they are spacious, and can provide facilities like food, drinks, bar, recreation, etc. That’s why the hotel industry is growing and going. Being customer-focused is a debating issue as people have contradicting views about customer-focused market (Raithel, et.al, 2012). Customer centricity is disadvantageous from financial and innovation aspect. For instance, bring back any product, any time after purchasing it policies can cost a lot to the company and affect it long-term feasibility. In addition to this, Mathew Dixon, et.al, 2010, argues that loving the customers does not always mean that they will also love you. They said that there is a weak relationship between customer satisfaction and loyalty.
According to the management of Marriott International Inc., if the consumers’ satisfaction increases, then the profit of the organisation also increases. They say that a customer is the prime reason behind any organisational task, such as production or manufacturing of the goods and services. It is the way a consumer is treated and served by the firm by the staff, suppliers, resellers,etc., that decide the customer loyalty. It is the prime duty of the organisation to provide some basic training to its staff to treat the customers with all due respect. For that purpose, Marriot takes the customer feedback for improving and maintaining the quality of service in the business.
The customer market in the hospitality industry are affected by four major factors that are given below:
These four factors can develop the further preferences in the hospitality market. The marketers should contemplate these factors in order to create a suitable marketing strategy to increase customer loyalty.
Like other industries, the hotel industry is also dynamic and diverse sector and to understand the customer base, organisations have divided the whole market into segments. “Market segmentation” is the process of bifurcating the target market into different subsets, wherein the customers of similar characteristics have been grouped together. As talked earlier in the marketing concept, the idea behind marketing is to figure out a way to satisfy consumers’ needs in the best way possible. According to Marriot International Inc., the bifurcation of the market into subsets will help the hotels to put their focus on a particular section of the society as it has potential to give the best opportunity for goods and services(Guo, et.al, 2012).
Successful organisations identify that household size, lifestyles, needs, preferences, etc., are unmatched for one customer to another(Olšanová, 2012). Formulating a policy that increases the demand of the product in the market by keeping the interest of a sub-group in focus will help in business growth. It is important to understand that businesses must focus on more than one market segment as the needs of one group might vary from other.
The marketing is all about increasing the sales by influencing the demand. Having the knowledge of current customers and the future consumers and their needs would be quintessential in creating the marketing campaign. In simple words, the more a business organisation understands its consumer, the efficient it would be in creating goods and services that would influence the buyers’ decision-making process (Nunn, 2013).
The significance of segmenting the market cannot be over exaggerated. It helps the businesses in hospitality sector to bifurcate the market and figure out the needs of sub-sections.
Market segmentation is important for the following reason:-
On the other hand, market segmentation has certain setbacks that Marriott should consider while making marketing strategies:-
Marketing mix generally is the combination of numerous plans and ideas generated by the marketing representatives working in an organisation to promote a specific brand or service.The idea behind combining two or more plans is to create a final strategy in order to popularise the brand (Morgan, 2012).
The elements of Marketing Mix:
The elements of marketing are also referred as the “four P’s” of the marketing.
Products are the manufactured goods created by the organisations for their customers or end-users. There are two varieties of the products- 1.) Tangible 2.) Intangible (usually services). The former comprises those things which can be touched, whereas the latter consists of those things which cannot be touched. Products are usually purchased by the buyers and sold by the sellers in exchange of money(Gordon, 2012).
The amount that both the parties (buyer and seller) agreed upon in sale-purchase process is called the price of the product. The price of a product is inversely proportional to the supply of the product in the market. Lesser is the supply of the product in the market, higher will be its price and vice versa. Usually, it has been found that retail stores that sell unique products quote a higher amount from the customers.
The location of availability of a particular product is called the place. The product can be sold or purchased from that place. The market of availability can be real or virtual (online). In real or physical market the two parties can interact and meet, whereas in the virtual, online purchase is done via internet.
In promotion, the end-users i.e., the buyers are made aware of the products or services. Promotion make use of different strategies or plans employed by the marketers to create a goodwill of the product in the customers’ mind and make a brand popular among the other products (Grewal, et.al, 2016).
Promotions can be done via two ways:
Advertising: This includes radio, television, print media,and other ways to make aware the end-users. Billboards, banners, hoardings are installed at places where maximum number of people can be made aware(Grewal, et.al, 2016).
Word of mouth: One satisfied consumer caninfluence other people to buy a product or dis-satisfied customer can take away others. That is called the word of mouth (Cusumano, et.al, 2015).
Apart from these, three more P’s are added in the marketing mix recently as discussed below:
Nowadays, customers are considered to be the centre point around which every marketing strategy revolves. In today’s day and age, the four C’s has discard the four P’s of marketing, thereby making the model customer-oriented (Keller, 2013). The model is discussed below:
For organisations, the concept of ‘optimum marketing mix’ is very crucial. It helps in knowing the effectiveness of the marketing investment and how well it performs. Optimum marketing mix helps in developing a right algorithm for the organisation, wherein a focus is put on the budget, competitor, objectives, and needs. Companies can make real-time adjustments and decisions on grounds of their budget, changes in the market, and business results.The concept talks about the distribution of the marketing budget optimally over the components (the 4P’s) of marketing mix.
Pricing is the most powerful instrument in the business world. The differences in the pricing of the product between an organisation and its rival affects the consumer decision-making process. In many research work, it has been found that pricing strategies and customer’s expectations are two crucial factors that helps in building the brand image and targeting a particular consumer base. There are numerous pricing strategies that an organisation can go for depending upon the need of the situation(Abrate, et.al, 2012).
One of such types is premium pricing that incorporates setting up higher prices when the product has uniqueness and competitive advantage. If a business is setting up the price of services higher than the other, then it must develop a quality product that worth the higher price. Another one is penetration pricing where the price of a service or product is set as low as possible in order to form a base in the market. New companies often use this technique to grab the customers’ attention away from their rivals. Once a company successfully establish its position in the market, it usually increases the prices. Psychological pricingis all about fixing the price as high while considering the psychological barriers. Marketers often use this strategy to instigate customers emotionally instead of some logical facts. Product line pricing incorporates fixing up different prices of the identical products or services. Promotional pricing includes deducing the price for a short-term period in order to increase the sales.
Marriott International Inc., is operating in more than 120 countries around the globe. The pricing strategies of Marriott depends upon factors, such as hotels, location, and consumer needs. Their prime objective is to provide the right service at the right time and that too at the right price. Marriott set the prices of their services by considering quality framework without affecting the brand name. That’s why in 2017, they set a landmark of maximum revenue in the hospitality industry. The product price is based on the cost of promotion and maintenance and customer requirement. In addition to this, the price also varies according to the change in the situation and competitor’s behaviour(Hu, et. al, 2015).
Marriot International Inc., follows a value-based strategy through which it attempts to “maximize the difference between the service provided by the organisation and cost incurred in delivering that service. The strategy was opted for the first time in 1983, when Marriott decided to deliver the “Courtyard mid-priced hotel product”. The organisation was offering tiny, medium-priced, and stylish courtyards. The idea brought fortune for the organisation. The only challenge that the value-based strategies usually face is the willingness of the customer to pay different charge for a particular product (Christopher, et.al, 2013).
This challenge can be resolved by the marketers by segmented prices approach. The price segmentation can be done on the basis of time of purchasing the service and buyer identification. The former is often referred as the “peak-load pricing” and is influenced heavily by the time period and unavailability of the product. As the demands of the hotel is higher on weekdays as compared to weekends, especially for those properties that are business-oriented. Therefore, Marriott International Inc., promotes the weekend services in order to compensate for the low weekend demand.
Marketing plan is crucial for coordinating tasks, eliminating disturbances, and maximizing profits. It keeps a check on every activity involves in selling a product and make sure that every department knows about the other’s work. Therefore, implementation of an integrated marketing plan is essential. In context to Marriott International Inc., the implementation of marketing plan for 2017-18 has certain objectives that are given below:-
This is the marketing plan of Courtyard service by Marriott.
Aim: The aim behind launching of “Courtyard by Marriott” is to provide the top-notch, classy lodging experience to business travellers.
Vision Statement: "To be the World's Favourite travel Company."
SWOT Analysis of Marriott
Technologically correct helps in improving lodging experience.
Strong demand of premium services worldwide
Both online and offline booking methods help customers.
Low online booking rate (28% only)
Courtyard service targets the business travellers only.
Rise in economy and midscale lodging.
Forming new mergers and ventures.
Increase in millennial customer attraction.
Boom in shared economy.
Rise of mediocre or third party disruptors.
PESTLE analysis of Marriott
Political Factors: The international relations, terrorism, political instability in a popular tourist region.
Economic Factor: The economic turmoil in Europe, instability of share market, recession, debt crisis in Europe affect the customers’ purchasing power and travelling abilities.
Social Factors: Marriott has been benefited profoundly as their sales increased by 13% this decade. International tourism increases globally.
Technological Factors: Due to increase in the influence of the technology in the hotel business, the online retailers like Airbnb pose a major threat to Marriott. Airbnb has cut down the rates of hotel room in the market.
Legal Factors: Marriott has faced the problems as it is obligated to increase its minimum wages. It has increased the labour cost and led to service reduction.
Environmental Factors: Major issue that disturbs the Marriott’s operations is unstable fuel rates. When rates are low, the travel cost is also reduced. This increases the demand for the rooms.
Budget: Marriott is one of the largest travel industries in the world with more than $31.7 billion worthy assets and having 22% of global market share. The budget of Courtyard by Marriott in UK is $ 1.5 billion.
Risk Evaluation and Recommendations
Recommendation1: Increase in the number of properties.
Recommendation 2: Expansion of the target market
Recommendation 3: Bringing up the dynamic pricing approach
Marriott is planning to promote its “weekend services” due to weak demand of services on weekends as compared to weekdays. Currently, its main focus in on promotions through digital media, especially the social media marketing. Marriott has a strong follower base on Twitter and is used by the marketers to resolve the issues faced by the customers. Marketing strategies are influenced by the customs and culture of the country. Marriott follows “one size fits all” approach (Brennan, et.al, 2012). The marketing includes advertising and branding across the borders. Marriott created uniqueness in its services by offering the customized products to the customers. They form partnership with Pica9 and Excella Consulting in order to provide the cost-effective services to the customers of diverse needs. For the managers to check the effectiveness of the marketing strategies, a portal was created. Including the technological innovation, Marriott has successfully implemented and updated their marketing approaches for different target audience(Hyun and Perdue, 2017).
To cater the customers speaking different languages, Marriott hotels is providing information in more than 150 languages on their websites. Marriott is using social media as one of its prime marketing strategies for distinct branding. Brand Works is the application employed by the Marriott in order to improvise the process of information sharing and bringing coordination among the teams (Berthon, et.al, 2012). This also helps the management to develop their brand in accordance with the location and customers.
Marketing has always been a backbone of every industry and helps in keeping an organisation going and growing. In this report, different concepts of marketing in context to Marriott International Inc., was discussed. In addition to this, the impact of macro and micro environmental factors on the organisation was talked about. Consumers have always been the centre for every marketing strategy. Therefore, the relevancy of the consumer market in the hospitality sectors was also explained. Organisations wants to target different section of the society. So they usually bifurcate their customer base. In this report, the idea behind segmenting the market was elucidated. To understand the marketing in depth, the role of marketing mix was elaborated thoroughly.Before concluding this report, the different pricing strategies had been discussed in reference to Marriott International Inc. Furthermore, a major evaluation of the implementation of the marketing plan of services offered to the customers was done briefly.
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