Marriott turned the complexity of hospitality’s largest merger ever into an opportunity to empower 700,000 people through purposeful, ultra-relevant learning and development.
Learning that 6,700+ hotels need and 700,000 people want
Following the biggest merger in hospitality history, Marriott combined three independent loyalty programs into one. The brand, marketing, and operational implications of this effort cannot be overstated. To make this happen, we needed to train a global workforce of 700,000 people, across 130 countries and territories, on the new program as well as the systems that go with it – with a focus on our most critical associate base for loyalty, front desk with more than 80,000+ associates. Given this scale, the training effort was too massive to be done in person with the increasing complexity that associates needed the information at a single point in time – when our customers would experience the loyalty changes.
After extensive research, Marriott chose to align with Lobster Ink - innovators in technology-enhanced learning with a focus in hospitality - to develop and deploy bespoke training to our entire workforce. We had 8 short months to go live with one global loyalty system across 6,700+ hotels - the clock was ticking!
Human-Centered Design That Instills A Loyalty Mindset
The new Loyalty program is central to Marriott’s vision of becoming the ‘World’s Favorite Travel Company.’ But, before we could communicate the program to the world, associates from both Marriott and the newly acquired Starwood properties needed to understand it and rally behind a common goal of creating personalized member experiences.
To achieve this, the learning experience design process started, not with a training script, but with a vision for the target Loyalty member experience. At project launch, we held a series of human-centered design workshops with a cross-functional team to identify where and how Marriott associates could create memorable member experiences. This enabled the team to articulate learning outcomes in terms of member impact, not just knowledge, skills and attitudes.
Design also helped communicate the Loyalty vision. For example, we filmed live at 10+ locations globally. From the deserts of Dubai, to the beaches of Bali, downtown Shanghai, and our Headquarters in Bethesda, Maryland, content featured actual associates and guests, reflecting the brand, cultural, and geographic diversity of the company and our new, unified program.
Bite-sized, digital lessons were a key component of our blended learning approach. 3-5 minute translated modules, including videos, simulations and interactive assessments, made content engaging and accessible. It also enabled us to create personalized learning experiences. Instead of assigning training en masse, we built algorithms to sequence, curate, and assign lessons based on each associate’s brand, region, language, and day-to-day tasks. These learning paths provided foundational knowledge and skills, allowing leaders to go deeper and focus on application and reinforcement at the regional and hotel level.
This learner-centric approach meant each concise lesson offered practical skills and behavior training that can be accessed anytime, anywhere and on any device. Integration with our existing learning management system also means learners retain a history of training and performance, making it easier to motivate the learner and, at the same time, monitor knowledge attainment and retention.
Learning from learning
The Marriott Digital Learning Platform (DLP) allows us to track and measure learning performance by brand, department, region, content type, job function or just about any other learner group. This assists us hugely in bridging the gap between learning and operational performance. Advanced analytics allows HR managers and L&D leaders to accurately quantify the effects of learning on operations and easily deploy remedial training where necessary. For the first time, we have a way to reach every learner, in every property on every continent.
The Marriott DLP is also purpose-built to dynamically handle updates. This agility allows us to keep up with the speed of system development, creating and distributing updated training in a smart and efficient way.
Results to date
This program is still within its first 6 months of implementation but our results to date continue to impress:
93% of our front desk associates completed the loyalty program training within 90 days of release, along with additional targeted populations totaling over 400,000 learners completing the training
Up to 3,600 concurrent learners actively learning on platform simultaneously
Up to 120,000 learners, actively training on a given day
Up to 50% reduction in seat time compared to comparable prior Loyalty learning content
Initial feedback from learners has been extremely positive for the digital content and new way of learning to prepare them for the changes that occurred.
Our integration training efforts could not have been accomplished without the DLP and our innovative training methodology.
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