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Marriott goes musical with newest digital collaboration

YouTube pop star Sam Tsui has joined the likes of Grace Helbig and Taryn Southern in Marriott's latest millennial-targeted campaign.
August 27, 2015

The Marriott International hotel chain is continuing to woo millennial travelers with YouTube influencers.

That’s the chief reason the Marriott-owned Renaissance Hotels and its Marriott Content Studio paired up with popular YouTube musician Sam Tsui (2.1 million subscribers) to film an original music video in one of its hotel suites during the recent Chicago run of alt music festival Lollapalooza.

Tsui not only filmed the video (which runs exclusively on the hotel chain’s YouTube channel) for “Unexpectedly” at the recently renovated Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, he also hosted several vlogs on his own channel covering Lollapalooza as a spokesperson for Marriott.

Amy Sherman, senior director of digital marketing for Marriott’s lifestyle brands, told StreamDaily that Tsui’s highly engaged social following made him an ideal choice for the project, as the hotel brand looks to attract a different kind of business traveler.

“We are looking to attract the social discoverer, some who is a lifestyle-oriented business traveler,” said Sherman. “They’re not just there for a business trip, they really want a discovery along the way, like finding the dive down the street that nobody knows about.”

Sherman said the hotel brand is chasing the millennial demographic, but is also hoping to appeal to travelers as old as 40.

According to Sherman, to date the video has been seen more than 260,000 times, and overall views of Tsui’s vlogs total more than 332,000.

David Beebe, Marriott International’s VP of global creative and content marketing, says the Sam Tsui project and the content studio’s work, like films The Kiss and The Two Bellmen — which have garnered 5 and 6 million YouTube views, respectively — represent a sea change in the Marriott chain’s marketing practices.

“When we launched the content studio last year, it was really a shift in the way that we do all our marketing across the portfolio,” says Beebe. “Today’s consumers and our target audience — a millennial audience — doesn’t engage with a lot of traditional advertising anymore.”

He said the hotel has tried to engage that audience through a more story-driven content approach that still remains authentic. “It’s really a shift from using interruptive advertising,” he said.

Some of the chain’s other YouTube collaborators include comedian Taryn Southern and her Marriott-branded slumber party, and Grace Helbig, who recently starred in the chain’s “#Itpaystobedirect” campaign.

According to Beebe, it’s been working, and there are plans to keep collaborating with YouTube talent, including Tsui.

“The views, the engagement we’re building and the commerce we’re driving from our content has been outstanding,” he said. “It’s just been a year, so we’re still scaling it.”

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