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Jeruba's avatar

Can we analyze the Marriott Rewards advertising brochure inserted into this week's Time Magazine?

Asked by Jeruba (41919 points ) October 15th, 2012

This brochure caught my eye initially because it was simply so intrusive. I looked at it out of curiosity. And then I looked at it some more because it seemed vaguely disturbing.

It seems to me that this obviously expensive promotional piece conveys a lot of information about the expected audience and hence in turn something about our culture and society. I’m wondering what it says to you.

I’ll start: the fact that this is for a rewards program tells me that this promise of “rewarding experiences” is aimed at people who can’t really afford this type of travel accommodation. Inviting you to “treasure it for a lifetime” suggests that reveling in all this luxury is something you’ll probably get to do only once.

If you are interested in discussing the ad, please share your thoughts.

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9 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Disclaimer: We are members of the Marriott Rewards Club.

I believe that type of advertising is aimed toward the newly wealthy or what we used to call YUPPY, Young Urban Professional. It is meant as a starter or entry into the Luxury Class.

Blackberry's avatar

Where’s the ad?

JLeslie's avatar

I’m not sure exactly which ad you are referring to and what information it contained. I am a Marriott Rewards Member and I attained the rewards credit card last year. I am very happy with Marriott overall and the rewards prorgram. I have never utilitzed their lavish resorts, mostly I stay in Courtyards, Fairfield, and Residence Inn’s, and I do stay for free a lot by taking advantage of promotions throughout the year and building points through charging and staying. Marriott’s website and customer service is one of the better ones out of the various hotel chains.

If the ad was regarding their resorts and exotic locations, then the targeted audience is obviously going to be upper middle class and upper class, and middle class who probably spend more on vacations then they should LOL. Or, a special vacation, once in a lifetime sort of thing. I receive some of those brochures in the mail being a rewards member, I also get them from cruise lines. Same idea, unless I am not understanding correctly.

The ad also sells the idea that if you build enough rewards you might be able to stay somewhere you never imagined before. The main goal of rewards programs is to build loyalty to a brand.

Did you have a problem with the advertising? Find it obnoxious or offensive in some way?

bookish1's avatar

@Jeruba , I haven’t seen the ad, but I am intrigued. What specifically do you find vaguely disturbing about it? Selling lifestyles to people who can’t afford them, and status to social climbers… seems about as old as consumer capitalism to me. I am vaguely disturbed by the great majority of advertising, and sensitive to it because I don’t have a TV!

glacial's avatar

I’m a member of a few of these hotel rewards programs (though not Marriott), because I need to travel for my work. As you say, I “can’t afford this kind of travel accommodation” – yet I am frequently in a position to earn points for a future stay of my own (as if I wouldn’t rather stay in my own bed after that much traveling). I find that a lot of my fellow guests are in the same position.

Another thing to note: most of these hotel groups own several chains that cater to different classes (perhaps your ad shows all the logos, as they often do). Stays at a lower-class hotel will earn fewer points per stay, but all build toward the same rewards.

jca's avatar

The thing about the rewards programs is that if you’re going to travel, you may as well join the programs and earn points, upgrades, etc. Why not if you’re going to be paying for the room anyway? I have gotten some great rates at incredible hotels by being a member of the rewards clubs. A relative got some incredibly cheap rates at the Waldorf in NYC by being a member of their club. I think travel in general should give you memories that last a lifetime. That’s what it’s all about.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

I’ve been a member for 24 years of Marriott rewards. In a couple of words “business travel”. At the time i joined I was commuting 900 miles one way every week did that for 5 months.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Like others, I was hoping that you would share a link to the ad. The only information that has turned up during website searches is the PR releases about the ad campaign. According to these reports, it is an expensive campaign. As others have mentioned, it is also targeted for a select audience.

So who is the select audience? Hotel companies who have the capability and funding conduct extensive research and data gathering techniques know that 80% of their business comes form 20% of their customers. The 20% comes from what is referred to as ‘road warriors’. These are people who spend more time in hotels than they do at home.

When large hotel companies, like Marriott and Hilton, are in stiff competition for business, particularly during a recession, they know that the way to stay afloat is to provide benefits to not only the companies that still require travel, but to the road warriors. This is what generates loyalty from a bigger financial picture than a positive review from an occasional traveler.

This type of advertising isn’t intended for a person who can or cannot afford a luxury stay out of pocket. It is two-fold:

1.) It is geared towards those that travel so frequently that they have earned it through collecting points, thus loyalty. This comes down to the “What’s in it for me?” factor. If they are going to be away from their life and loved ones for business, then there is a benefit of reaping some type of personal reward for it.

2.) As @glacial points out, it has to do with generating awareness of other chains within the Marriott family of hotels. Marriotts are typically located in metropolitan areas, while other chains, part of the Marriott family, are situated in smaller areas. If a road warrior now knows, based upon the advertising, that a Courtyard or Fairfield Inn will increase their points, then they are more likely to stay at one of these hotels when a Marriott is not available. It may also be due to to budgeting and/or a per diem. It could also be due to a traveler’s company’s contract with the hotel company.

JLeslie's avatar

I found this that states the median household income for news magazines is about $91k. So, I would think Marriott marketing their product through Time Magazine makes sense, and is not trying to for the most part woo people who cannot afford a nice vacation. Further, that income bracket implies a higher education, so I would hop ethose people are not too easily sucked in to spend money they don’t have; although, certainly we have seen a lot of well off Americans do just that, so I don’t really know what to say about that. Basically I contradict myself with the last point, because what people do makes no sense to my brain sometimes, with my logic. Lastly, the average age of the reader is in their late 40’s, so many readers likely have savings, children who are grown and out of the house, and diminishing monthly expences.

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