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Marriott (MAR) Announces Strategic Partnership With Rakuten

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Marriott International, Inc. (MAR - Free Report) recently announced a strategic collaboration with Rakuten Group, Inc., to boost travel experience for Japanese customers. Following the announcement, shares of the company moved up 1.6% during trading hours on Oct 7.

Backed by high optimism for travel recovery, the alliance focuses on delivering an integrated travel experience through leveraging the strength of Rakuten's digital expertise alongside the global scale as well as the rapid growth of the Marriott Bonvoy footprint. This will benefit members from both Marriott Bonvoy and the Rakuten loyalty program.

Slated for a phased roll-out (from late-November 2021), the deal allows Marriott Bonvoy to connect directly with Rakuten members to offer them unparalleled experiences through a diverse portfolio of Marriott Bonvoy's 30 international hotel brands. This includes convenient enrolment in Marriott Bonvoy, access to member rates, ability to earn and redeem points as well as other exclusive benefits. Also, the deal highlights the marketing of Rakuten's customer base with customized content and promotions.

Regarding the collaboration, Rajeev Menon, president, Asia Pacific excluding Greater China, Marriott International, stated, "With a significant number of Japan's population a Rakuten member, we anticipate this collaboration will allow us to strategically capture a greater share of a strong Japanese travel market and connect these travelers to our expansive portfolio of global brands. We're delighted to be working with Rakuten to advance the recovery of travel."

Increased Focus on Loyalty Program

With nearly 150 million members globally, the company’s loyalty program Marriott Bonvoy plays a supporting hand in its marketing strategies. The company is focused on non-hotel stay experiences such as Eat Around Town and Homes and Villas by Marriott International. Despite making an immaterial impact on the company’s financials, the initiative allows Bonvoy members to earn and redeem points through its 30,000 listings. The company is also engaging its customers with promotional offers such as grocery and retail spending accelerators on its co-branded credit cards (American Express and Chase). Also, its association with uber is encouraging. The company is optimistic about these initiatives as it is likely to boost leisure demand and capture additional revenues, going forward.

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Shares of Marriott have gained 19.6% so far this year compared with the industry’s 13.4% growth.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Marriott currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Some better-ranked stocks in the Zacks Consumer Discretionary sector are Choice Hotels International, Inc. (CHH - Free Report) , Sonos, Inc. (SONO - Free Report) , Caleres, Inc. (CAL - Free Report) , each sporting a Zacks Rank #1.

Choice Hotels’ 2021 earnings are expected to surge 77%.

Sonos has a three-five year expected earnings per share growth rate of 41.9%.

Caleres has a trailing four-quarter earnings surprise of 1,001.6%, on average.