Recently I was pointed to a new blog “Marriott on the move”, started by the CEO of Marriott Properties, Bill Marriott. What amazed me most is not only the fact that Mr. Marriott is a 74 year old “blogger” (no pun intended), but also that he understands the value of blogs and a two way communication with the customer they create.
Bill Marriott usually writes about traveling industry, business lessons learned throughout the years, and a bit about himself. Being a well known business leader his blog is receiving quite a large amount of traffic daily with positive comments from readers around the world. He even mentioned that
“Thirty percent of our hits have come from readers outside of the United States, which shows the growing recognition of our global brands.”
We all know that blogs can be a great tool for branding your business. What many miss though is that because of the 2 way communication (assuming that you allow people to comment on your blog), companies can learn more about their customers, without spending tens of thousands of dollars on research that can be gained for free.
In one of the posts by Mr. Marriott there was a comment by the reader who said;
“I am wondering how you feel about the automation of services in hotels. I recently visited another brand and they had an automated system of checking in and even a computer to find the places of interest. Do you think that this takes away the personalization that is so important to the traveler. and what is received at the Marriott. I realized that we all strive to move forward but I believe that taking away the desk with a real person there is taking away from a great travel experience. I am looking forward to hearing the Marriott view on this subject. Thank you”
Here is the response;
“Response: Bill Marriott asked me to respond. We are developing a new lobby concept. The check-in process will be a big part of that. We want to give people options to check-in the way they prefer. So you would be able to have an associate check you in either at an open desk or using a hand-held device. It’s called roaming and the associate would come to you. For many of our guests who prefer other options, we are adding kiosks and have even tested checking in with a Microsoft Smartphone. Stay tuned.”
Hey, marketer, did you notice what just happened here? This Blog has just ran a branding campaign that cost Marriott a little bit of time rather than money for the “ad”. Furthermore … what kind of an ad can create such a bond?
Mr. Marriott recognizes the value in blogging and he is not the only CEO to do so. There have been other CEOs who have started their own company blogs and have grown a pretty good community of readers.
I for one will have a different view of the Marriott brand than I had just 3 months ago. Not only does the blog connects with the prospect but it also updates them on things that are coming in the future to the brand.
Bottom line is … running a blog is not expensive and all it takes is passion for what you do and a likable character.