Marriott’s personalization includes getting my name wrong

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

I am a relatively loyal traveler when it comes to the brands I fly with and stay with:

  • Marriott
  • Sheraton
  • American Airlines

Partially, because once you have status on them the benefits are worth the money.

Personally, because accumulating points on a handful of preferred brands helps in the usage of those points. I have to say though that many more points can come from credit card usage.

Anyway, I was monitoring the Marriott website for points being deposited-which can actually take up to 10 days-but knowing that doesn’t stop me from checking.

And on the sign-in homepage they greet you by name-and sometimes it’s even my name:

Really, whether that says welcome back, first name, or just welcome back doesn’t really make a huge difference but interestingly that’s how it’s set up and more often than not it calls me by somebody else’s first name. Here a handful of screenshots from a recent 10 or so days period.

As I mentioned in this Sitecore conference talk personalization is the future. Advertisers and social media networks are already trying to do that. They show you ads based on previous behaviors and social media networks try to get personalized algorithms right.

Some email marketing strategies and systems do it well. It always is about serving me – the customer – the right content at the right time.

The more I see the name function being off, the more I start to think the return is low to even include <first name>.

I remember sending email campaigns back in the day when couples shared emails and others didn’t fill their first name out completely when signing up.

So now emails would go to “Dear Ray” but actually only Ray’s wife was opening the email.

Other times, it might be Dear R.

Both may or may not be better than Dear Reader.

Anyway, the Marriott site was a good reminder that first-name personalization, which sounds so simple in theory, is actually harder than it appears. And even when it works, why is it needed?

It’s also easier to spot by customers. You get my name wrong, I know.

But when somebody serves me content that wasn’t personalized to me, I might not even notice and just delete it. Or scroll past.

The Marriott/Sheraton, as well as American, do personalized content well though after you check out offerings on their sites or book a trip.

For example, booking a hotel often triggers an email:

  • To sign up for activities
  • Rent a car
  • Upgrade
  • Etc.

Not finishing a booking on American, often will trigger an email from them as a reminder later.

Doing personalization well can be a business maker and can make content experiences better for consumers.