Marriott Built a Giant Interactive Map in NYC to Celebrate Its Merger With Starwood

Shows off new global hotel network

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When Marriott merged with Starwood Hotels in September, it created a hotel megabrand with more than 5,700 properties and 30 brands. To celebrate the merger, Marriott built an interactive map in New York's Rockefeller Center on Friday that let guests explore all of its properties around the globe.

The initiative was part of Marriott's Global Travel Day block party. People could swipe 30 giant radio-frequency-identification-equipped pushpins on the walkable map or at its 250 properties in New York City to win travel-related prizes. A social media sweepstakes also let Marriott rewards members enter to win free hotel stays.

The effort helps showcase off breadth of the new Marriott-Starwood portfolio, said Karin Timpone, global marketing officer at Marriott. "It's important to highlight all the great destinations that everyone can go to across the portfolio," she said. "There will be a lot of things on the map that are travel-related and experiences-related from the entertainment, sports and culinary space."

Last week, Marriott also unveiled its Global Travel Tracker, a study of travelers' habits. Among its findings: Thirty percent of travelers enjoy ordering room service, beach time is favored over hiking mountains (71 percent vs. 29 percent), and 27 percent of travelers love to try adventurous food like escargot and reptiles.

Marriott plans to use some of the study's results to inform its future marketing efforts and rewards program offerings, Timpone said.

"It gives us context into the mindsets of the way people are traveling," she said. "When we put together experiences for our loyalty members, we'll put together activities and culinary packages that reflect that."

@ChristineBirkne Christine Birkner is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers marketing and advertising.