Feb262014

Marriott’s Year of Surprises party contest

Today I came across several blog posts by bloggers stating they were sponsored participants in a Marriott Ambassadors program and the post gave details on Marriott’s Year of Surprises contest. After a an hour of checking out some new blogs, I ventured into the Marriott site YearofSurprises.com to check out the buzz.

Marriott Year of Surprises-1.

Marriott YearofSurprises.com.

Rules for Marriott’s Year of Surprises contest.

Open to residents of U.S. 50 states, D.C. and Puerto Rico, 18 years and older.

Contest period: February 1 – August 1, 2014 in three nomination periods.

  1. February 1-28, 2014.
  2. May 1-31, 2014.
  3. August 1-31, 2014.

Submit essay between 250 and 500 characters. That is something like 3 to 5 tweets of content.

Prizes: 11 Grand Prizes for a party with value up to $14,000 and up to $6,000 check to cover taxes for the prize. There are a few thousand words of fine print to read in the rules.

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The rest of this post contains no more discussion of the Year of Surprises contest promotion. The focus for the rest of this piece is a general discussion of hotel chain marketing and the intersection of marketing and blogging.

I came across a blog post stating the blogger participated in a Marriott Ambassador program. After reading the first blog I googled ‘Marriott Rewards Ambassador’ and 17 different blogs popped up with a similar disclosure at the beginning of the post.

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Marriott Rewards. I received Marriott Points to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I participated in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Millennial Central for Marriott Rewards. I received Marriott Points to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

Mom Central Consulting and Millennial Central both link to MomCentralConsulting.com.

While this is disclosure and obviously a scripted disclosure provided to each of these bloggers, I find it less than full disclosure.

How many Marriott points were given? 30,000 or 40,000 to pay for a free hotel night or something like 250,000 points which could be considered a gift in the $2,000 range?

And what is a promotional item?

Is it a Marriott tote bag, a complimentary stay at the Gaylord or a free seven-night stay at a Marriott Caribbean resort?

How is a reader to know what is meant by these disclosures?

Disclosures are a curious and vague thing on many blogs and confuse the intersection of travel writer and paid travel marketer.

Anyway, I saw some interesting blogs among the Marriott Ambassadors. Looks like the long tail of marketing across the blogosphere for Marriott with Mom Central Consulting.

  1. ClassyBlackGirl – San Francisco based lifestyle and etiquette blogger.
  2. A Fit and Spicy Life – Food, wine and workouts with a Minneapolis blogger.
  3. Tammilee Tips – Tammilee offers recipes and travel tips.
  4. 50 by 25 – Laura ran marathons in all 50 states by the time she was 25.
  5. Yeah Let’s Go – Atlanta based mom blogger.
  6. More Awesomer blog  Lindsey, I like the site design.
  7. Daddy’s Hangout – Daddy blogger.
  8. Have sippy will travel – mommy blogger.
  9. The Dallas Socials – Dallas lifestyle blogger.
  10. Taking Back My 20s – Laura, beer lover.
  11. A Nut in a Nutshell – Liz Mays lifestyle blogger on coast of North Carolina.
  12. Cookies and Clogs – TerriAnn van Gosliga is SF Bay area blogger.
  13. Just Short of Crazy – Deb Thompson lifestyle blogger from Michigan.
  14. Just Stop Screaming – Toni lifestyle blogger in Florida.
  15. Living with a Boy – Gabby, another beer lover, in Louisville, Kentucky.
  16. Paper Blog – Fitnspicy blogger.
  17. MommyGAGA – Deanna San Diego mom blogger.

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One of the interesting discussions I have had at the last few hotel industry conferences is explaining to hotel managers and executives how the system of credit card affiliate payments makes money for bloggers. Surprisingly, few industry people are aware their loyalty credit cards are a revenue stream for bloggers who can make $100 to $200 on every approved application made through the blogger’s affiliate links. Of course, how much any specific blogger makes on a credit card affiliate link is something the rules of the affiliate game prohibit the blogger from publicly stating.

And on the other side of the blogosphere, many points and miles focused bloggers I meet do not have much understanding on how the majority of travel bloggers travel for free or greatly reduced cost. Trips planned through local and regional convention and tourism boards are a way to sponsor a blogger as a media guest of PR firms, tourism agencies and deep-pocket local providers while generating social media buzz through blogger content for their places.

I have no real focus here on what I am saying about bloggers and blogs and marketing. Just sharing what I am seeing in blogosphere marketing. Looking at this Marriott Rewards ‘Year of Surprises’ party contest and the blog Ambassadors had me thinking about this funny arena I work in with my Loyalty Traveler blog.

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Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

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About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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