When you are the market leader, but now facing new competition…

SITUATION: The Aruba Marriott was ranked #1 among market competitors, but was about to encounter significant competitor challenge. Major renovations and new spa introductions were underway at the primary challenger resorts. Plus, a new vacation club project was about to open on one side of the Marriott, and a new Ritz-Carlton was slated for the other side.

PROBLEM: The Marriott was at risk of dropping to fourth or fifth in market rank, and would likely be negatively impacted in both rate and occupancy by the Ritz-Carlton, and in guest satisfaction due to the new demand on the beach, pool and f&b areas from the vacation club guests.

AUDIENCE INSIGHT: The resort experience in Aruba was perceived [by destination visitors] as undifferentiated and indistinguishable from a beach vacation that could be experienced in Florida. The stretch of beach was littered with American-branded hotels, retail outlets and dining establishments from the airport to the resort area. Audiences strongly desired an authentic experience.

STRATEGY: Infuse the resort with “Aruba.”

ACTION: A “Soul of Aruba” positioning was conceived after extensive research. Every aspect of the resort was re-defined and designed to be consistent with the positioning. This included architectural restructuring, hiring standards, language, uniforming, a complete overhaul of food and beverage concepts, names and menus, resort activities, celebrations and, of course, all messaging.

RESULTS: The positioning was deemed “the only NATIVE concept in Aruba.” Additional dining and spa outlets, as well as room design concepts were recommended to offset the future impact from surrounding products.