Marriott E-Mails Give Rewards Members Travel Incentives

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Marriott International has introduced several e-mail offers to Marriott Rewards members in a post-Sept. 11 push to boost occupancy at the global hotel chain.


The company featured its "Double Points and Double Nights" offer, for example, in its Oct. 15 e-mail newsletter to Rewards members. The offer, available to members who have stayed at a Marriott hotel in the past 12 months, awards double Marriott Rewards points for stays charged to Visa cards from Oct. 15 to March 31, 2002.


"Occupancies aren't what they should be at this time of the year, so we have developed this promotion, with this rich of an offer, to help get that going," said Kim Manthei, manager of public relations at Marriott, Bethesda, MD.


Along with stimulating reservations, the offer is also designed to help members who have cut back on business or leisure travel after the Sept. 11 attacks regain their lost points.


"We have [Marriott Rewards] members who were on track to obtain Elite status; but, because their travel schedules might have been cut back, we don't want them to lose points," Manthei said.


Marriott also developed a mail piece for the offer that went out Oct. 1. It kept down costs by using a 10-inch-by-6-inch, folded, multicolored postcard. Marriott developed the postcards in-house.


Manthei would say only that the number of postcards and e-mails sent for the Double Points offer was "pretty large." There are 15 million Marriott Rewards members nationwide. Marriott executives have not projected a response rate because "the environment is so weak right now," she said.


Marriott rolled out other e-mail and direct mail promotions in late September and October, including "Rewarding Weekends," which offers a free weekend night for every three paid weekend nights through Dec. 23. Rewarding Weekends is being promoted mainly with direct mail postcards, print newsletters and e-mails.


The frequency of Marriott's e-mail to guests varies.


"We always look to provide the maximum benefit to the customers without sending them a barrage of e-mails," Manthei said.


In another online promotion launched last month, loyalty members are eligible to win 1 million points in a monthly drawing each time they book a reservation on Marriott.com. And loyalty members received an exclusive Internet offer Oct. 24 offering 10,000 bonus points after applying for a Marriott Rewards Platinum Visa card.


Meanwhile, its "Come Out and Play" fall promotion, offering rates as low as $44 a night at some Marriott hotels through Nov. 8, had been in place prior to Sept. 11. A pop-up window on Marriott.com touts this offer, along with television, newspaper and radio ads and notices in its e-newsletter.


For most of the fall offers, Marriott has relied primarily on direct mail, e-mail and public relations. Many non-Marriott print newsletters and e-newsletters, such as those from Hotelbusiness.com and Frequentflier.com, picked up news releases on Come Out and Play, Double Points and others.


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