Marriott Launches Xplor Mobile Travel Game

Although not alone in the struggle by any means, the global tourism market took a significant hit during the deep recession of the past few years. With every penny suddenly crucial for millions of people around the world, elaborate vacations were simply impossible to afford. More and more people were forced to put off their travel plans and vacation locally, staying home and taking day trips instead of flying off to distant lands and lounging in style at elaborate hotels. Perhaps no brand felt this change more drastically than Marriott, one of the largest hotel chains in the world. They’ve got hundreds of thousands of rooms to fill, and need to find a way to attract a new generation of travelers with the income to support hotel stays. Perhaps they’ve landed on the perfect tool with the launch of Xplor, their mobile travel game.

Marriott released a statement announcing the release of Xplor this week, with availability as a free download from the Apple iOS app store. The goal of Xplor is simple, to offer potential customers an engaging gameplay environment that also rewards their success with Marriott perks. The game is a virtual travel tool, giving users the ability to digitally explore New York City, Beijing, Sao Paulo, Dubai and Paris. While wandering through some of the most famous locales in each city, players will challenge themselves to sightseeing trivia and test their wits against a series of puzzles.

Every successfully completed level unlocks Marriott Rewards perks that should provide a solid incentive to do business with the company. Each time a player completes one of the gateway city levels they are automatically entered in a giveaway, with the prize of 100,000 Marriott rewards points. Those points can be redeemed for things like extended stays, meal vouchers and room upgrades. Marriott will give out half a million of those rewards points during the last week in November. And for those dedicated gamers that beat all the levels Xplor offers? There’s a grand prize contest, with awards such as 200,000 points and even a plane ticket for flights that will take you around the world. If you play through Xplor and get to this point, you’ll have to wait until December 16th for the winners to be announced.

It’s pretty clear that Marriott is looking to attract a new demographic of travelers to their brand. They even admitted as much, declaring they are focusing on people between the ages of eighteen and forty-six. This covers Generations X and Y, which their estimates expect to make up more than 33% of all United States room renters by the end of the decade. Marriott’s execs believe these folks will dominate their business in the years to come, and that means an app game might be the perfect strategy.

Other companies in non-technology industries have attempted to use games to increase user engagement with their brand, but to mixed effect. Starwood created an integration point with the game ‘Second Life’ back in 2008, but it didn’t seem to do much for their revenues. The key is the quality of the game. It must be unique, and build off of the latest in technological innovations. Players need to know they can easily qualify for real-world rewards, and that means each level must be compelling enough to make one want to play it through to completion. It seems like Marriott has the bandwith to create such an app, where¬†Key West tours companies and car rental agencies have failed in the past. Time will tell if Xplor is truly a success, but the initial launch makes it sound compelling enough to certainly be worth a try.

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