- Marriott International is bringing together Marriott Bonvoy Moments, a series of experiences available exclusively to members of its loyalty program, with Gather by JW, the brand's upcoming second annual festival featuring culinary, beverage and mindfulness experts, according to a press release.
- Loyalty members can bid on three exclusive cooking classes featuring renowned chefs Giada De Laurentiis, Angela Hartnett and Ciccio Sultano to take place at Gather by JW. The event will be held at JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa, on the private island of Isola delle Rose, in September.
- The news comes two months after the company consolidated its loyalty programs Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards to create the new Marriott Bonvoy program.
Experiential travel is a big priority for hospitality brands looking to connect with consumers at a time when they can stay in a local's two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the world for around the same cost as a corporate hotel or use an app to get last minute deals on top-notch rooms. For hotel chains, this means that they have to offer new and enticing ways to make consumers spend their vacation money on their properties. The Marriott news reflects this need and points to the interest, for luxury travelers, in exclusive experiences like taking a class with a renowned chef.
Travelers are increasingly looking for experiences that are more immersive, local and authentic, according to a recent report from Skift, which calls the demand for "experiential travel" the biggest trend in tourism right now. Almost 54% of travelers plan to participate in an adventure activity on their next trip, up from 42% of travelers currently doing so, revealed last year's Adventure Tourism Market Study, co-produced by George Washington University and the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA).
Marriott has clearly set its sights on the trend for experiential travel with Bonvoy, which was launched in February with the promise of rolling out experiential events for members throughout 2019. The strategy enables the brand to emphasize its travel services beyond lodging with thousands of excursions to encourage bookings and stand out among competitors.
At the same time, newer rivals like Airbnb are expanding their offerings beyond lodging to provide memorable experiences and boost loyalty. According to numbers released by the website last month, Airbnb now offers more than 25,000 experiences in more than 1,000 cities worldwide, having added 20,000 new experiences since February 2018. The list of new services being offered by hospitality brands as a way to stand out also includes travel guides, content hubs, video series, sleepover experiences and more.