Susan Thronson is a veteran Marriott marketer who also cares about giving back to her industry. Despite a formidable job with responsibility for leading the company’s marketing strategy across 17 lodging brands representing 3700 properties in 74 countries, she has just completed a term as Foundation Chair of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI), an organization that has provided research and educational resources for the hospitality sales & marketing practitioner.
She recently commented on the how the role of the marketing director has changed in the past 5 years by sharing three key points that are relevant to many marketers beyond the hospitality category. According to Ms. Thronson, today’s marketing upheaval is characterized by the fact that the target customer is changing, source marketers are changing, and go-to-market strategies are profoundly changing.
She elaborates by discussing how today’s generation of travelers views services like connectivity as a right, not a perk. She adds that when people change what they value from a service organization, it undoubtedly affects the proposition of the brand. Plus, she now sees a different mix of global travelers from new markets visiting an expanding list of locations. Susan Thronson advocates becoming expert in the cultures and current events about those source markets. In fact, she believes that today’s marketing directors should achieve a new level of sophistication in understanding more about the peoples of the world, while keeping up with all the new channels of communications.
Marriott is taking Susan’s thinking to heart as the company has been “reimagining the guest experience” while transforming lobbies and public spaces for a new generation of business travelers who blend work and play, demand style and substance, and desire high tech and high touch. The company is introducing new concepts, such as purpose-built spaces for smaller collaborative meetings that are specifically designed for the way Gen X and Gen Y work. Marriott is also testing innovative technologies, such as applications for booking meetings on demand, to further differentiate the customer experience at its hotels.
We have no doubt that Susan Thronson will continue to not only “reimagine hospitality,” but reinvent many new marketing best practices in the process.