Social Media + Employer Brand Fun in China

Jessica Lee Change, China, Culture, Employment Branding and Culture, Jessica Lee

Big ups to me. This week I wrapped up a pretty cool initiative that such a smashing success that I just have to share… watch this video first for a flavor:

What you see there is a glimpse into a social media-based video contest among our properties in China which we aptly named, Our Hotel Rocks. We pitted our 56 properties in China against each other to create a one-minute video that would tell the story to future hires of why their hotel specifically rocks – and the winning property would receive a trio of iPads for shared use across the hotel.

Sounds fun, right? On the surface, completely. Video contest, iPad prizes… but this, this was more than just fun and games as we’ve got some issues to tackle in China.

Surprising as it may be to some, the Marriott name is not well known globally. Especially in China where we’re growing like crazy and have a ton of recruiting to do. At least one new hotel opening a month until the end of 2014 means 30,000 new employees to hire, 40,000 when you add in attrition. Then all the competition we face as the hospitality industry in general is booming in China. Every global brand wants in, and then you have China specific brands exploding too. I’ll add in another layer of complexity and share that as with other developing markets, the hospitality industry is not as established in China so in some cases, careers with us can have a negative stigma. Working for a hotel is a 2nd or 3rd if not 4th choice career path that parents might not approve of.

So we have got a lot of issues to tackle. Yet we know that Marriott is an amazing place to work with a culture that easily beats out the competition by miles with career paths that are amplified more so because all of our growth. Then you have this contest. Our Hotel Rocks.  Modest prize… silly contest name… but eyes set on moving the needle some with the brand and recruiting challenges we face in China, and focused on generating some awareness for the launch of our corporate careers presence on Weibo, the Twitter equivalent in China… and in the end I was BLOWN away with how our hotels showed up for the contest.

37 of 56 properties submitted videos – pretty great. But as I started viewing the videos – not even really understanding what was being said or words flashing up on the screen… I was pretty amazed with how they pulled out all of the stops. You don’t expect for Hollywood style production quality when you ask employees to voluntarily submit a video for an internal recruiting focused contest. But that’s what we got.

We then narrowed it down to a final eight which were put out for voting by the public on Weibo/YouKu (the YouTube equivalent) with either a forward of the video (re-tweet equivalent) or a comment on the video counting as a vote… and let me knock your socks off when I say we closed out the contest with a whopping 51,994 forwards of the videos and 20,928 comments. Read that again! A combined total of 70,000 individual actions on the final 8 videos through Weibo! Crazy. Here was the winner, The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, followed by a few of my other faves:

Numbers aside… a contest like this was a success just from a sheer learning perspective. The ins and outs of a Chinese social network. Combining an online/offline contest that required heavy internal and external communications and marketing work. The power of great creative and strong communications to set the right tone.

Great stuff and I couldn’t be prouder of this contest and how it turned out.

Some days, it just doesn’t even feel like work. How lucky am I?