The Marriott Goes Tiki

Trends come and go. Often times, bar and restaurant owners will jump on the bandwagon before thoughtfully considering how to implement the trend into its brand without alienating patrons. This summer, the Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International waded into the Tiki waters with ease, developing a strategic promotion that was fun, sophisticated and gave guests a chance to indulge in an exotic getaway with a sip of a cocktail.

Marriott International partnered with Marriner Marketing Communications, a Columbia, Md.-based company that specializes in providing integrated marketing solutions to the food, beverage and hospitality industries, for Marriott’s Tiki promotion, which began in June and ended last Friday. In order to pull off the Tiki promotion, Marriner’s marketing team provided Marriott hotels with materials including Tiki mugs, Tiki cocktail stirrers, fish-shaped cocktail picks, cocktail parasols, a back-of-the-house guide book with drink recipes and the historical background of Tiki, as well as menu templates.

Marriott International

Additionally, Southern Wine & Spirits of America’s National Director of Mixology Spirits Educator Francesco LaFranconi created 16 authentic Tahitian cocktails — all made with a twist. Using Diageo, Beam Global Spirits & Wine and Pernod Ricard spirits, LaFranconi crafted cocktails such as the 1944 Mai Tai (Cruzan Light Rum, Myers's Dark Rum, orange Curaçao), The Beachbum (Cruzan Light Rum, Malibu Black, apricot brandy, pineapple and orgeat), The Chartreusian Swizzle (Cruzan Light Rum, Green Chartreuse, pineapple and velvet falernum) and more; each hotel chose what drinks and how many they wanted to include on the Tiki menu.

Lou Trope, Vice President of Restaurant & Bars at Marriott International, says the Tiki experience embodies the Marriott’s guest, who is “a world traveler intrigued by approachable luxury and authentically crafted experiences.”

Plus, Trope adds that the Tiki Promotion “offers the elegance of the specially produced menus accompanied with the historical and authentic Tiki experience brought to you by the trained staff.”

However, in order to attract guests, the drinks weren’t the only things that had to be visually stimulating. Time and effort was spent on the menu design, as well as complementary promotional materials.

“Our motto was less is more — clean but sophisticated but have the Tiki feel at the same time,” explains Marriner’s Senior Art Director Claudia Barac-Roth. “The challenge for me creatively was to take the playfulness of the Tiki movement and adapt it in an elegant voice.”

To do this Barac-Roth highlighted the Polynesian culture while downplaying the kitschy elements of the Tiki movement. For her it was about connecting to nature and using the culture as the driving force behind the promotion. Barac-Roth and her Marinner team chose earthy tones and printed materials on wood and recycled paper to achieve this nature quality.

“We had to look at what the brand of the hotels is and to really connect the Tiki promotion, which is very kitschy and playful, to a more sophisticated, indulgent moment,” she notes.

Menu templates were designed for each Marriott brand, allowing flexibility for managers to choose what drinks would work best at their specific location.

“The guests and staff loved the fun and themed-drink appearance; it gave the staff an interesting visual to sell to the guests,” Trope says.

With back-of-house guides for staff that gave the historical background of the Tiki movement, guests were enlightened about Don the Beachcomber and his foray into Tiki culture. This rich historical knowledge allowed bartenders, managers and, most importantly, patrons to connect with all things Tiki.

“The whole point of [the Tiki promotion] was to drive people to the bar and have fun with different type of drinks but not take over the bar. [Marriott management] wanted to elevate the Marriott brand in a fun way,” Barac-Roth notes.

Add in a staff that embraces the promotion and guests curious about something new and different and you have the perfect escape during those hot summer months.


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