CHICAGO—The AC Hotel by Marriott Chicago Downtown is having a gratitude moment, which will stretch throughout the year. Sporting a prime location near the Magnificent Mile and renovated spaces, the hotel knows that saying “thank you” is not only polite, but makes good business sense.
“It’s a competitive market. We have AC Hotels, a new brand dynamic that is European in style, smart and witty, too. What we wanted to do is have a promotion targeted to travel planners and meeting planners that is a yearlong thank you for your business,” said Laurie Hobbs, VP of marketing, Marcus Hotels & Resorts, which owns and manages the hotel. “It’s a relatively new brand and we’re very thankful for their business and their trust in the Marriott product and the AC product. We’ve been able to deliver on our brand promise and we wanted to continue the positive momentum.”
In planning the yearlong promotion, the hotel had three main objectives: understand the needs of meeting and travel planners; create opportunities for engagement with its brand assets; and share the perks that would motivate people to book.
“For the planning of this, we looked at our objectives and recognized that social and engagement is an important part of what we do,” said Hobbs. “We needed to make it integral in this promotion. People are on social media for personal use and also in their business lives, so we wanted to harness it and use the hashtag to make it relevant.”
The hotel is promoting the perks in a 12-month marketing piece available online along with a virtual tour of the property. To make the #YearOfThanks promotions enticing, the marketing team integrated perks—free upgrades and complimentary breakfast—that they’d typically use for the guests themselves to drum up excitement and create interest. Each month has a new promotion available. In April, there is an offer to receive a complimentary VIP upgrade for a group block. Among the other promotions, meeting planners who book a meeting will receive a complimentary room rental or can opt to receive a complimentary breakfast for up to 20 people when booking a block of rooms.
“We understand that when you have promos that are short lived, they’re not as effective as yearlong promos with consistent themes, engagement and long-term communication,” said Hobbs. “We knew our guests would be excited if they got a complimentary upgrade and that it would enhance engagement and delight our guests, especially those in the group space. It’s a nice value-add and we believe it will help meeting planners.”
Two months into the promotion, AC Hotel by Marriott Chicago Downtown has received a positive response from meeting planners and corporate contacts alike. “We wanted to develop and create an offer that reflects the hotel personality so when you look at AC Hotels, there’s a reflection of the style and positive engagement of the hotel.”