ORLANDO – Marriott hotels knows a lot about what people talk about on social media and it’s become “a content machine” fueled by data and technology. “In our work for Marriott, we talk about customer centricity all the time,” says Tej Desai, Managing Partner at agency MEC.

A year ago, Marriott itself comprised 19 different brands. Then came its acquisition of Starwood Hotels and the combined brand tally now exceeds 30.

“Bringing those brand perception levels higher to actually drive the right consumers into the purchase journey is key,” Desai says in this interview with Beet.TV. “So we’re helping them sort of reinvent that purchase journey to make sure it’s connected from the top to the bottom.”

Among other results for these efforts, Marriott and MEC picked up Gold and Silver Creative Data Lions at this year’s Cannes International Festival of Creativity. The awards, given to M Live—Marriott International’s global marketing real-time center—were in the categories of Social Data and Use of Real-time Data.

M Live is the touch point across all 30 Marriott brands used to identify pop culture trends and create real-time content directly with on-property guests on social channels based on geo-fencing technology.

One benefit of working in the hotel category is that unlike insurance or packaged goods, which are often pitched as necessities, “it’s something you want to do. It’s aspirational. You want to go on vacation,” says Desai. “We have that to our advantage.”

As a part of GroupM, MEC shares its digital brand safety standards and works with Marriott and other clients to build brand safety guidelines for global implementation “to make sure that our ads aren’t being seen where they shouldn’t be seen.”

While he acknowledges that working with walled gardens like Facebook and Google “is tough because they see a lot of our media spend,” Desai says maintaining close partnerships with digital and traditional media providers produces learnings that can be applied “across the board.”

This video is part of a Beet.TV leadership series produced at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, 2017. The series is presented by FreeWheel. Please find more videos from Orlando, visit this page.