view from the beach onto the Vacation Club section of the Marriott Praia d'El Rey property in Obidos, Portugal

Tweeting for #MRpoints: A Few Comments on Marriott’s Plus Points marketing campaign

Note: This post was written to satisfy an assignment for the “Social Media and Analytics” class I’m taking, taught by Leila Samii (@reallyleila), but I hope you’ll find it interesting nevertheless.

Last May (2014) the Marriott hotels chain started a promotion allowing social media users to earn Marriott Rewards points through a “Plus Points” program for:

  • following Marriott accounts on Twitter and Instagram,
  • retweeting Marriott’s content,
  • checking-in at Marriott on Facebook,
  • or posting on Twitter or Instagram content with hasthags #MRpoints and #LoveMarriottRewards.
Official Marriott Rewards Plus Points logo
Official Marriott Rewards Plus Points logo

You can read the full description of the program in two excellent posts by Going Awesome Places – “New ‘Plus Points’ program giving away up to 2000 free points each month” and “Update to the Marriott Rewards PlusPoints Program.

Since our family loves staying at Marriott’s Residence Inns and very much enjoyed vacationing at several Marriott’s Vacation Club properties in the past four years, I joined the program as soon as I heard about it in early October.

It seemed easy – all I had to do was follow a bunch of accounts, share content,  tweet using the hashtags, and rake in up to 100 points a day, up to the maximum of 2,000 points per 30 days.

However, the Marriott’s official Plus Points program page had just a list. No links. So here’s my first piece of advice to Marriott (and any other companies that want to run a campaign like this in the future):

Add hyperlinks to the list of accounts you want influencers to follow!

Luckily, I found the Going Awesome Places blog, whose author did a huge favor to everyone who wanted to follow the Marriott properties’ Twitter accounts. He actually looked up every property and added hyperlinks on his list for those who had accounts. (Thank you, Will! That was GREAT help!)

Unfortunately, several properties that were on the official list of “participating properties” didn’t even seem to have a Twitter account. So here’s my second word of advice:

If you want influencers to follow you, you have to create an account in the first place! (Or, if the account does exist, make it easy to find.)

As Will said,

They may exist but they sure did a darn good job at hiding it. Honestly Marriott, if I can’t find these accounts, how do you expect others to?

I completely agree with what Will said that it was sad to see how poorly managed some of those accounts were – some haven’t tweeted for months!

Herein lies probably the most important mistake that Marriott made in its social media marketing campaign – it didn’t seem to have provided a lot of training in the use of social media to the individual twitter account managers.

So here’s my most important piece of advice to Marriott and other large companies who have several sub-accounts and want to be followed and retweeted:

Invest in a good and thorough training program in the use of social media for your individual account managers!

All account managers should know the following rules:

Post regularly

I don’t want to point fingers, but I’ve seen some accounts in pretty nice places, with beautiful beaches or landscapes, that have created an account but don’t post anything, and that’s really a shame.

Don’t repost content from Facebook!

Few people on Twitter will want to click on the link heading out to the company’s Facebook page, and nobody will see all those beautiful photos you took. Don’t cut corners, take some time and post content on both accounts.

And please, never, ever link accounts if all your tweets merely say “I posted a photo on Facebook.” Trust me, nobody is going to click on that link.  Again, I don’t want to point fingers, but that particular account  has only 90 followers, and those are probably people who, like me, followed it to get those 25 points.

Furthermore:

If you want to be retweeted with a hashtag, leave some empty space in your post to add the hashtag!

Several Marriott accounts do post very interesting content, but it could not be retweeted by users gathering MRpoints, because it was too long.

Again, I don’t want to point fingers, so I’ll post an example of a well designed, easily retweetable post that left enough space for me to add both the required hashtags and a brief comment:

  And the last, but not the least important piece of advice: 

Take time to acknowledge mentions or RTs and reply

I’m not surprised nobody replied to this tongue-in-cheek post:

But even some of the posts in which I included photos of properties went ignored:

I am saying the above because:

It was REALLY nice to receive an acknowledgment of my tweets or RTs from the following:
New Orleans Marriott (@MarriottNOLA)
Burr RidgeMarriott Burr Ridge (@MarriottBrRidge)
Kauai Marriott (@KauaiMarriott)
Coronado Marriott (@CoronadoMarriot)

Even more fun was actually getting into some brief conversations with:
Marriott HarborBeach, @HBMarriottFL

Marriott Burr Ridge again, @MarriottBrRidge
and Marriott Costa Mesa, @marriottcm

whose account manager is so friendly, I spent quite a bit of time looking up their web site, dreaming of going there

Clearly, the managers of the above accounts know the #1 rule of social media:

People following you on social media seek interaction and some acknowledgment, so give them some of that and they will remember you above those who ignore them.

Notice how all of the above replies are friendly but further promote their brand. Now that is smart social media marketing!

That said, enough lecturing,  time for some

KUDOS to content that shines!

Now that the Marriott Plus Points campaign is over, I hope Marriott will sit down and analyze what worked and what didn’t, and will make sure to recognize those Marriott Twitter account managers who clearly know what they’re doing.

Here are some examples of types of posts that all Marriott accounts could be doing, wherever they are located, starting with:

Attractive description of the venue

(some accounts don’t have any description whatsoever)

@MarriottLtlRock – Luxury & convenience in historic downtown Little Rock. Only full-service Marriott in Arkansas. Hotel | Groups | Meetings | Events

@MHDenverWest The Denver West Marriott hotel puts guests just minutes from Downtown Denver and exhilarating musical performances at Red Rocks Amphitheater.

@MarriottCM Luxury Costa Mesa Hotel in Orange County. Whether you are traveling for business, pleasure or planning a meeting, our hotel will exceed your expectations!

Of course, an attractive description won’t do much good if the posts are not that interesting. Managers of the following accounts know that, and entice their followers with attractive photos that are:

Showcasing customer service

The above may be not the most attractive photo in the world, but it does make one think “Wow, nice! Now THAT’S good customer service!”

Showcasing outdoor space

both around the hotel

and nearby

Showcasing local events

I noticed a few Marriott accounts, such as Denver Marriott West (@MHDenverWest) or DallasMarriottSuites (@Dallas_Marriott) retweet content about local happenings, which is a very smart move, because it buys them gratitude from the original posters, who will be more likely to retweet Marriott’s posts, and provides their followers with important information that helps planning a trip. Kudos to Denver Marriott West (@MHDenverWest) for retweeting CO Parks & Wildlife (@COParksWildlife) or Where Colorado (@WhereColorado) posts

And Kudos to DallasMarriottSuites (@Dallas_Marriott) as well for retweeting AA Center (@AACenter) and Dallas Arboretum (@dallasarboretum)

Dallas Arboretum (@dallasarboretum) also mentions area attractions and local events in its own posts, while at the same time cleverly promoting their own venue:

And THAT (showcasing what’s happening in the area) is a VERY smart move, because it makes the reader think “That looks like a fun thing to do!” or “Wow, that is beautiful. Maybe we should go to Colorado / Texas some time?” (I haven’t been to Dallas yet, for instance, and have been to Denver only once, 14 years go, but some of the posts on those accounts make me want to pack up and go.)

Showcasing event space

Most large hotels make money not only on selling hotel room space, but also renting event space, and two major types of events they are targeting are parties (such as weddings) and conferences or conventions. Wedding venue photos are more attractive, naturally, but the photo below is worth mentioning as well, since it clearly shows the size of the room and attractive decor, down to the upholstery on the chairs.

Showcasing food

That one is a no brainer. Everyone loves attractive pictures of food, and the Marriott Burr Ridge and Denver Marriott West capitalize on that by regularly posting mouthwatering photos from their menu:

Marriott Burr Ridge

Denver Marriott West, @MHDenverWest

Several other accounts are doing a pretty good job of showcasing their restaurants or the local cuisine as well:

All of the above posts are attractive and thereby memorable, and even though not every hotel has gorgeous pools outside, since every hotel has event space, and many have restaurants onsite as well, it should be really easy to create a nice gallery of posts from the hotel to include in the tweets.

That said, I also want to give

Real kudos for tweets praising or mentioning the employees

 

 

In my previous job, our convention organizer tended to hold conventions at Marriott properties not only because the venues were nice, but also because of the great customer service we received.

I’ve also been very pleased with customer service our family received at all the properties we stayed during our vacations.

Marriott might be just learning the land of the social media, but its customer service is always excellent. Part of that surely is due to thorough training of its employees, but I’m thinking part of it might be because they also seem to value their employees as well.

Now, you might be wondering

How did I do with the #MRpoints program?

Even though for a time I tweeted and retweeted religiously, it feels like some of my tweets were not acknowledged, and I’m pretty sure I did not receive any points for my Instagram hashtags.

Doesn’t matter.

All in all, I earned 1,350 points for tweeting = participating in Marriott’s Plus Points program. Not enough to actually go anywhere using those, but overall not bad.

Though I really do wish Marriott awarded a good chunk of points for blog posts. 😉

After all, if a simple #LoveMarriottRewards #MRpoints tweet such as this one is worth 25 points

then this post, and our “Marriott’s Cypress Harbour in Orlando, FL, ‘next door’ to SeaWorld” which truly promote the Marriott brand, should be worth much more, shouldn’t they? 😉

There are plenty of places in the U.S. we haven’t been to yet and would love to go.

By the way, the featured image at the top of the post was taken at the Praia  d’el Rey Golf & Beach Resort where Marriott has a five-star hotel.

We stayed in the apartments at the Holiday Residences section. (As I mentioned at the beginning, we do like Residence Inns and Marriott Vacation Clubs, because we like to have access to a full kitchen and having separate bedrooms is just heavenly.)

Have you participated in the #MRpoints program?  How did YOU do?

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