Marriott on sticking with Bonvoy through the scorn
When Marriott rebranded its loyalty program following its merger with Starwood, the hospitality giant encountered a fair amount of derision from consumers who found the new name, Bonvoy, rather confusing. The January rebrand elicited reactions such as disbelief that it wasn’t a joke and simply “lol.” Yet the company had to move forward past such negativity, said Scott Weisenthal VP of global creative and content marketing at Marriott International.
Speaking at a panel on rebranding iconic brands at Advertising Week on Tuesday afternoon, Weisenthal noted that he would have been surprised had there not been “negative reaction” to the rollout of Bonvoy, an abbreviation of the phrase “bon voyage.”
“For us, it comes down to filling that name with meaning,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s about ‘What are those benefits that we are giving to our members?’” he said, citing Marriott’s new homes and villa program, its tours and activities and a new food and beverage offering on the horizon. “We have the name—it is what it is. We have people talking about it and we have to accept there’s negative reaction.”
The made-up word Bonvoy, which combined the loyalty programs of Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest, was the rebranding work of Mother Design. Marriott worked with Observatory Marketing on a campaign to promote the rebrand and aired a commercial pod during the Oscars earlier this year.
Like other hotel chains squeezed by Google and Airbnb, Marriott has been working to distinguish itself through specialized offerings for members like Bonvoy. Meanwhile, Airbnb is pushing further into the hotel space.