Why did Marriott, a top-three global hotel chain with no particular emphasis on the adventure-travel niche, just partner with GoPro to let guests borrow Hero4 cameras at 18 of their Caribbean and Latin American locations?
“It’s low-hanging fruit,” says Daniel Kelsay, GoPro’s Resort and Camp marketing manager. “Marriott’s guests have always taken videos, and they love to share them, but Marriott could never harness it. It’s basically free marketing.”
As Kelsay says, it’s about social media, or, in other words, free customer-generated advertising. Marriot wants guests to upload images to their Facebook and Instagram accounts using the #TravelBrilliantly handle. No surprise there. Plenty of hotels encourage their guests to upload their photos using specific hashtags. And Marriott’s partnership with a camera company to facilitate that makes sense, too.
That said, the choice of GoPro—over other camera brands or even smartphones—is curious. If Marriott was only looking for guests to upload their photos without the fear of ruining their camera phones, they could have provided guests with shockproof and waterproof cases for their smartphones (like the Otterbox). After all, that would be the easiest way to get guests to upload images to social media.
It appears the real reason Marriott partnered with GoPro, and vice versa, is branding. Marriott wants to be associated with the adventure travel niche, an industry that between 2009 and 2013 grew from an $89 billion to a $263 billion sector, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
“No one straps on a GoPro to go to the mall,” said ATTA President Shannon Stowell. “The point being that nature, culture, and activity bring more meaning to travel than sitting around or buying stuff.”
On the flip side, GoPro isn’t afraid to branch out into new markets. The skiers, mountain bikers, and adventure junkies are all hooked on their products. Now, they’re aiming for a much wider audience.