Experience is a word that seems almost trite these days, even for those of us who are systematically advising our clients to develop it impactfully in their businesses, be it in sports or luxury. Hotels have been working on the experience factor forever, and it has never been more relevant than today.
The Formula 1 season started just a few weeks ago in Melbourne, Australia, in sync with Marriott International’s announcement of its partnership renewal with the highly successful Mercedes-AMG Petronas team.
After buying Starwood at the end of 2016 for over USD 16 Bn. , Marriott Reward and Starwood SPG reward programs merged into the newly-released Marriott BONVoY. Marriott knew that this acquisition would offer their clientele greater experiences thanks to their combined over 1.1 million rooms across the globe.
So what drove the Marriott, and other hotels in similar positions, to invest in new multi-million-dollar deals, on top of their ongoing sponsorships across many fields?
One reason is definitely that Formula 1 offers a global presence to sponsorship investors. With one contract you can assure a worldwide audience, which is quite unique at this level.
Since 2015, the Hilton Hotels & Resorts seized a similar opportunity by sponsoring 11-time Formula 1 World Champion team McLaren. The hotel group is their official logistics partner and hosts them for the 21 races of the F1 season, in addition to offering an experience of a lifetime to their valued Hilton Award members.
In 2015, the French hotel group Accor announced a record investment of EUR 3.5 million per year with AEG, a US leader in entertainment, for title sponsorship of the then Bercy arena, which is now well known as the Accor Hotels Arena.
This is a particularly successful stadium/arena title sponsorship, especially in terms of the rebranding.
With more than 4,590 properties worldwide, Accor Hotels also supports tennis and sailing through various sponsorships. The company recently launched their new loyalty program ALL (Accor Loyalty Limitless) in sync with the start of their sponsorship deal with soccer team Paris Saint-Germain, whose jerseys now feature the ALL logo. Sports aside, we have to recognize the great global exposure of the Paris Saint Germain team creating some interesting marketing case studies. Example of a “local team” worldwide expansion.
Basically, what all these reward programs offer for their loyal customers is the opportunity to stay in their resorts and receive VIP treatment at some of the greatest events in sport. The accumulated points can be redeemed for these exclusive packages.
While most companies across various industries can only offer a purchase experience in store or online, hotels can offer so much more with the sale of a night in their facilities – like an amazing experience. Which is one of the main reasons that motivates them to invest so much in sponsorship and mainly sports.
Another is the opportunity to receive global branding and advertising, which we understood from the first part of the article. But the most important reason for these investments, albeit less obvious to some, is to nurture shared values between the hotel, fans and their favourite sports, teams and athletes. It is so much easier for a client to love a brand that proudly supports their favourite passion. It then makes even more sense to stay in one of their hotels and share great memories of the latest world-class event.
We are strong believers in the power of a great experience as well as the impact of a strategic sponsorship.
As cliché as it may have become, there is no doubt that experience is still alive and well, even if sports sponsoring is leaving its golden years. After the famous “Location, location, location” motto, it seems experience is the next great advantage! To be continued.
*Marriott, Hilton and Accor
Anthony Schaub, Founder at The Consultancy Group, is an International Marketing, PR, Communications and Sponsorship professional with 14+ years of experience in the Luxury Brands Industry, specifically in the watch sector. He has acquired leadership and management skills, as well as expertise in contract negotiation, strategic thinking, relationship management and business intelligence.
The Consultancy Group is a boutique agency with unparalleled international experience and a strong professional network. We offer a bespoke service to each of our clients. From marketing and communication plan development to defining strategic guidelines, or simply to enhance an already existing approach.