For more than a year, hotel giant Marriott has been creating original digital content in-house to promote its various hotel brands. One of its biggest successes was last year’s action-comedy short, Two Bellmen, shot inside JW Marriott’s L.A. hotel. To date, Two Bellmen has been viewed on YouTube more than five million times.
The hotel brand is looking to recreate that audience success with the release of Two Bellmen Two, due for release on YouTube (along with other, unspecified platforms) later this month. The trailer is now live.
The short film, which stars Slumdog Millionaire actor Freida Pinto, along with actors and stuntmen William Spencer (Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2) and Caine Sinclair (Grimm, How I Met Your Mother), was shot at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai.
David Beebe, VP, global creative and content marketing for Marriott International, told StreamDaily the company’s digital marketing strategies always come down to the same principle: entertainment first.
“When you have five million views from people who know that it’s from a brand — and we see the comments, they are very aware that it’s a brand — but they stay engaged throughout the whole thing, that says that it’s entertaining, it’s engaging,” he said.
But, according to Beebe, the company has been careful to not simply create the content and hope that it alone attracts people to its hotels. Marriott has begun creating sales packages themed after the short films. The packages, which travelers can purchase through links on the digital content, contain special room rates and extras such as champagne, an opportunity to meet the general manager of the hotel and a tour of the city where the film was shot.
Though the original Two Bellmen did not have an attached sales package, the upcoming sequel will. Beebe told StreamDaily the sales packages from last year’s short, French Kiss, resulted in more than $500,000 in revenue from room bookings.
Mitzi Gaskins, VP, luxury brand management told StreamDaily the key to successful branded content has been customization and tailoring, and understanding what the audience already wants.
“With our JW Marriott Brand, we know that our guests are really passionate about culture, and since it is set in Dubai, we made sure to include elements of local culture featuring art, some of the beautiful architecture, dance…It’s really taking our brand and putting it on screen in a way that entertains and also engages,” she said.
Beebe said the brand’s digital goal for 2016 is to increase in scale and create more depth and diversity throughout its portfolio.
“We want to cast a diverse cast, and I don’t just mean culturally, but in terms of where we’re pulling talent from,” Beebe said. “By casting people who are more traditional stars, people who are in these parkour groups, YouTubers… we’re pulling in different audiences from all those different places. If I were to do a film and just put YouTubers in it, it’s only going to get people who know them from YouTube.”