What does Marriott’s Bonvoy say about loyalty?

On Wednesday, Marriott International officially unveiled the long-awaited solution to its myriad of loyalty programs in the form of Marriott Bonvoy

The promo video for the new loyalty program – which officially rolls out February 13 – touts “endless experiences” and emphasizes that the name equates to “good travel.”

Still from promo video debuting Marriott Bonvoy
Still from promo video debuting Marriott Bonvoy

“Good travel is waiting and it’s going to be great,” the tagline at the end states. 

But for luxury branding expert Piers Schmidt, the name itself was a missed opportunity across several levels.

“The proposition itself seems to be trying a little too hard,” Schmidt told HOTELS. “What’s wrong with a great loyalty program? Why does it have to represent ‘more than a loyalty program’? How is a travel program any different and why does the extraordinary portfolio of global brands need to be brought to life in any case? Don’t the brands do that for themselves? I would imagine that the operators who work inside the hotels of those brands would think so anyway.”

Peter Bates, president of hospitality and travel marketing company Strategic Vision, said he thought Bonvoy was clever and the travel implications would appeal to Marriott’s fast-growing leisure market. 

“However, a high percentage of consumers who are part of the program are corporate clients traveling because they have to, not because they want to,” he added. “I am not sure the name will appeal to them. The name suggests happiness and experience, which is good for one segment of the market but does not address an important core target.”

Bigger picture: Will the name work, and what are the implications of Marriott orienting its loyalty program around travel and experiential offerings? 

“Without a doubt, experiential travel is very important today and at the moment it is the trend everyone is building on,” said Bates. “This also seems to appeal to a global audience, and as the Marriott footprint grows worldwide this is positive.” 

“It will work but here was an opportunity to apply the group’s heft to something breakthrough and industry-defining,” Schmidt said. “Instead, they have played it safe and, as per usual, the innovation opportunity remains open for the smaller groups and independents.”