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Marriott leads travel brands in Snapchat-focused marketing

Marriott International is introducing a branded Snapchat programming campaign in conjunction with popular content creators to augment awareness, making it the first hospitality brand to use the social media application as the center of an advertising campaign.

The three month-long campaign kicks off on Dec. 18 by launching the @MarriottHotels channel on Snapchat, featuring content from social media influencer Shaun McBride. In a bid to entice a younger demographic of travelers, each of the four chosen influencers will be traveling to key Marriott properties worldwide, taking trip itinerary suggestions from fans and documenting their journeys on Snapchat.

?Exploring new advertising territories with a platform like Snapchat is smart for any brand looking to reach a younger audience,? said Kevin Canty, vice president of sales at Kargo, New York. ?Perhaps the greatest opportunity with an effort like this is the need to create customized content for mobile marketing.

?Too many brands try to fit their above-the-fold creative into mobile windows, and that doesn't always work. Creating unique content for a specific platform like Snapchat will likely lend credibility to the campaign with its target audience.?

Compelling content
Marriott International is hoping to strike an emotional chord with the next generation of social media-savvy travelers by leveraging one of the largest social media platforms (see story). While many brands, such as Macy?s, have been using Snapchat to roll out sponsored ads, Marriott?s approach is different in the sense that it is creating original content with popular influencers and taking fan feedback into consideration.

Storytellers participating in the campaign include Shaun McBride, popular Vine contributor Brittany Furlan, television show creator Casey Neistat and British filmmaker and personality Louis Cole.

The influencers will develop their trip itineraries and city destinations in conjunction with their followers, and will upload their journey documentations via their personal Snapchat stories, as well as on the @MarriottHotels Snapchat channel.

The brand aims for the influencer stories to emotionally resonate with millennial consumers. One of Mr. Neistat?s planned trips will take him to Marriott?s new Haitian property, where he will showcase the hotel and Haiti?s recovery from the 2010 earthquake.

Marriott?s heavier focus on ramping up content strategy is also an effort to build a brand community. The hospitality brand believes that those two factors will help drive commerce, although the foremost goal is to give customers what they want before they offer value back to the brand.

Thinking ahead
The campaign, which will be rolled out with Snapchat marketing platform Naritiv, will allow Marriott to capture well-performing content and share it on other social media apps and sites, despite the fact that Snapchat only lets users access stories for 24 hours.

Narativ will also be providing the data analytics for the campaign.

Some of the content that will be placed on Snapchat will not necessarily be created for the brand?s Twitter or Facebook pages, but Marriott claims it will consider cross-posting popular images and videos so as to increase engagement with the next-generation traveler.

Marriott will be working directly with its chosen influencers to ensure that relationships are being built, rather than relying on them for a one-off advertisement. The hospitality brand seeks to do several projects across a slew of platforms with them, and may extend the Snapchat campaign based on the level of success it enjoys.

?Being a first adopter and an innovator provides upside for a brand,? Mr. Canty said. ?Consumers - particularly younger consumers - want to associate themselves with brands that are distinct and relatable.

?They also respond well to those that provide entertainment value - even if through advertising channels. It's hard to say that any one campaign or approach will shift a large brand's perception as a whole, but when aiming to engage with a younger audience, a move like this can make an impact.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York