by Rick Swanborg

CRM: How Marriott Broke Down Customer Data Siloes

Nov 11, 2009
Business IT AlignmentEnterprise Applications

Integrating customer data from multiple brands enabled the hotelier to craft unique offers for customers and exceed sales goals.

Make every interaction meaningful: It’s the Marriott philosophy. This is not an easy task given the multitude of Marriott brands and the plethora of campaign management tools used to contact customers. By partnering with brand leaders and marketing leaders, Marriott’s IT department built a unified framework for engaging with customers. The project enabled Marriott to exceed its revenue goals while sending customers fewer, more targeted communications.

The Situation: With more than 3,200 properties operating under 19 brands in 67 countries, Marriott needed a campaign management platform that could scale across brands, programs and marketing organizations; integrate guest communication preferences; and efficiently serve offers to millions of customers.

To read more on this topic see: Get More from CRM: Activities vs. Campaigns and The Keys to Marriott’s Success.

What They Did: A cross-functional team of marketing leaders, brand leaders and IT defined the experience they wanted to provide to customers across all Marriott regions, brands and franchises. “We needed to fully understand Marriott’s marketing goals,” says Mike Keppler, senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management systems. To accomplish this goal, Marriott built a data warehouse that provides sales and marketing employees with a “working memory” of the customer. A data appliance provides the computing power necessary to very quickly parse large amounts of disparate data about customers collected in different hotel systems. Statistical models derive and present offers to customers based on their past preferences and behavior. Metrics gathered from each campaign fuel future campaigns and build upon the working memory about each customer.

Why It Was Unique: Marriott knew its customers visited multiple brands; for the first time, it had a way to tailor its offers to how guests use its different services. In the spring of 2007, the first e-mail campaign to use the platform was sent to 3 million recipients. It included 2.9 million unique messages with offers targeted to the recipients. The campaign exceeded its original revenue goals by 35 percent within six months of deployment. The platform also includes a Web-based self-service tool for regional marketers, cutting regional campaign development from six weeks to two days.

The Takeaway: A cross-functional approach facilitated the creation of an end-to-end business process supported by technology that provides balanced marketing with relevant offers.

Rick Swanborg is president of ICEX and a professor at Boston University. For more information, visit