Concurrently, within the company structure, sales and marketing had both been operating in separate silos. We needed to come together to understand how the two disciplines could work together to support our shared goal of heightening B2B revenues in our US hotels. This effort also needed collaboration with the analytics teams to understand what could be tracked as a result of marketing efforts through these digital channels.

There are two important statistics I like to be recalled at this juncture to stress the underlying importance of building Marriott’s presence on both social networks and search engine platforms.

1.  “57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier.” (CEB)

2.  “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.” (SiriusDecisions)

The world has indeed moved online, and we needed to move with it. Understanding how consumer behavior evolved with the proliferation of these digital spaces was critical to effectively formulate a plan going forward.

It was determined, that beyond the traditional support that marketing provided to sales by way of ‘sales tools and collateral’, we needed to determine our role in driving demand and customer engagement in a purely B2B environment. While we played an active role in training the sales teams on how best to utilize these channels to connect and engage with customers, we also focused our efforts on what we know best – that is, SEO and SEM.

Through Google analytics, we readily discovered that there was a high level of volume in meetings-type search terms and keywords, yet nowhere was our brand or any of our hotels visible. Our focus for SEM campaigns to date was not based on ‘visibility’ in the search engines, but rather on actual revenue. For example, we examined search terms like ‘convention hotels in San Diego’, ‘meetings in Chicago’, ‘event venues in Seattle’ and so on.

From this, the strategy we devised included the following:

  1. An established goal around driving group demand via the number of e-RFP submissions via the brand meetings website as well as total revenue booked. We also set a growth metrics of X to Y by year-end.
  2. Established a thorough analytics and tracking process to monitor and measure efforts on a monthly basis.
  3. Assigned a budget to implement a paid search campaign – otherwise known as pay per click (PPC) – based on high volume and relevant search terms while also making necessary updates to the RFP form on the brand meetings website.

With these three streamlined actions, our results were as follows:

  • Exceeded goal in driving e-RFPs by over 80%, which went directly into the sales offices.
  • Drove double-digit conversion rates, which showed we were getting the quality inquiries.
  • Exceeded the total in tracked booked revenue goals.