If you want another example of what a blog can potentially do for an organization’s outreach to its customers, look no further than Marriott on the Move, the new blog launched this week by Bill Marriott, Chairman and CEO of hotel and hospitality company Marriott International.
In his introductory post on January 16, Marriott writes about what he hopes to achieve with his blog and concludes:
[...] Bottom line, I believe in communicating with the customer, and the internet gives me a whole new way of doing that on a global scale. I’d rather engage directly in dialogue with you because that’s how we learn and grow as a company. So tell me what you think, and together we’ll keep Marriott on the Move!
So far, nearly 50 people have told Marriott what they think through leaving comments.
There are a couple of things about this blog that are quite interesting.
First, the ‘About’ text makes it a welcoming place:
The purpose of this blog is to give you a forum to interact with Bill Marriott. We believe Marriott is more than just the world’s largest lodging company with nearly 3,000 hotels around the world. [...] This blog allows us to hear from you and build on the community that we’ve nurtured for 80 years. We are delighted you have decided to visit us, and we will do our best to make it a valuable experience for you.
No heavy legal hurdles about rights and responsibilities and conditions for commenting.
Then there’s Marriott’s post itself. Lengthy and polished. My first thought was whether this was the result of some editing before it was published. Probably, but I believe the words are all Marriott’s rather than a ghost-writing job as this item in the Washington Post’s story about the blog indicates:
[...] He is dictating his entries into a tape recorder. A transcription will be placed on the Web, and audio of the entries will also be available. Though chief executives in other industries have blogs, some have been criticized as being just more corporate PR. But Kathleen Matthews, Marriott’s spokeswoman, insists: “This is going to be Bill Marriott’s blog. It’s not going to be the corporate blog. He’s going to decide what he wants to say.”
It’s early days of course, with only one post so far, but the approach to this blog by Marriott’s communicators looks to be a good one in terms of it being a means to develop effective engagement with customers in the long term.
The other example I mentioned at the beginning of this post? That’s FastLane, the GM corporate blog, where GM vice chairman and chief blogger Bob Lutz is on record with this statement about his company’s blog:
[...] We’re learning on the run, but now we have an unfiltered voice, a direct-line of communication. It has become indispensable.
Add Marriott to the list of CEOs with blogs who start out with ‘it can be done’ as their watchword.