Cannes Lions

The Regeneration of Travel

THE WASHINGTON POST, Washington D.C. / MARRIOTT HOTELS / 2023

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Case Film

Overview

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Credits

Overview

Background

In spring 2021, Marriott Bonvoy wanted to inspire people to return to travel. But Marriott didn’t just want people to travel again: it wanted them to travel better.

So the marketers at Marriott Bonvoy asked: How do we inspire leisure travelers to leap back into travel with purpose, aligning the brand with values that benefit both the traveler and the destination, and increasing awareness of Marriott Bonvoy as an inclusive platform for leisure travel?

Washington Post Creative Group answered with The Regeneration of Travel.

The program leaned into this key insight: We’re not traveling the same way anymore. So the same travel stories—and narrow community of travel storytellers—just won’t do.

The final campaign: three diverse storytellers embarked on three distinct regenerative journeys, from supporting economic recovery in the Rust Belt, to traveling respectfully in the Southwest’s sacred lands, to working alongside locals to restore Florida’s coral reefs.

Strategy

Marriott Bonvoy’s target audience was U.S. domestic leisure travelers. A good fit, as The Washington Post reaches 50% of them nationwide!

The Regeneration of Travel leveraged The Post’s entire media ecosystem. To find new and diverse storytellers, Marriott Bonvoy and WP Creative Group launched a nationwide search through a homepage takeover of The Washington Post.

We tapped into the award-winning By The Way travel vertical to surface regenerative travel trends storytellers could explore. We also had special access to By The Way’s popular Instagram and newsletter to promote our storyteller search and the resulting stories to The Post’s most engaged travel section readers.

We launched our first ever branded takeover of the popular Washington Post TikTok account to get Marriott’s regenerative travel mission in front of our socially-conscious next-gen audience. Additionally, we reached new diverse communities as our storytellers promoted their adventures on their own social platforms.

Execution

Our homepage takeover over-delivered by over 3M impressions. Applicants submitted “audition videos” and links to their social channels. We highlighted inspiring applications on WPCG’s social platforms, and a PR push earned coverage in trade publications.

After selecting our three storytellers, we aligned on regenerative travel trends, arranged productions in unexpected locations and chose the best technology to tell each story. We combined 360° video, photogrammetry and audio to transport readers to Gallup flea market, brought the Florida coral regeneration project to life via an interactive photo mosaic, and helped users understand coral planting via a gamified experience.

Our TikTok takeover launched with a regenerative travel explainer followed by a series in which storytellers responded to the trend-inspired prompt: “Tell me about a time that travel changed you.”

Buoyed by a 93% YoY increase in By The Way pageviews, we repromoted each travel story in summer and fall of 2022.

Outcome

Overall, the campaign generated 87M impressions. Time spent on our storytellers’ content exceeded internal and industry benchmarks. The release featuring Navajo photographer Jaylyn Gough was the highest performer, with an average time spent of 3:22, significantly above the Pressboard industry average of 0:43. Social referrals were 107% over benchmark, and the TikTok videos generated 3M views.

A custom content impact study found that, after viewing the content, 86% of people felt inspired to travel again, 96% agreed it had helped them understand the power of travel, and 75% agreed Marriott Bonvoy shared their values. Nine out of ten people planned to take action after reading the content, most often booking a Marriott Bonvoy hotel stay or visiting the Marriott Bonvoy website.

The program also earned media placements from trade publications including Adweek and MediaPost and local press including the Santa Fe Reporter and Buffalo Rising, where storytellers traveled.

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