hotel sponsorship

 

Events are big business for the communities they’re in. Sports events, concerts, conferences – each brings benefits, money, and ultimately visitors to host locations. Hotel sponsorship of these events is logical. The two go together like peanut butter and jelly. (Strawberry jam, specifically, if you ask us.)

Keep in mind these events can take different forms: it can be a gigantic conference like Dreamforce, a major sporting event like the Olympics or a World Cup, it can be a concert series at a local amphitheater, it could be a music or wine festival, it could be a local professional team’s home games – the possibilities go on and on! When defining hotel sponsorship as logical, note each of those events has the distinct possibility of bringing people who need a place to stay to a city.

Hotel sponsorships help the event, the hotel, and the attendees – because let me tell you, if a conference I’m going to has a hotel listed on its website, I’m at least checking it out. I may also take a quick look at Kayak (being honest here), but assuming the sponsorship includes a special rate, I’m making a U-Turn right back to the associated hotel site. It’s convenient and the rights holder has presumably vetted the hotel property. Done. Good to go.

Here’s the thing: hotels have a really broad range of sponorships. So much so it was difficult to put into a chart (we did, but only because we’re dedicated to you). Check out this monstrous list (with varying interests) below:

hotel sponsorship

 

Sources: this is going to suck so much. Two ESP articles + apparently, everything.

 

 

ENTERTAINMENT

MUSIC

The music industry is ripe for sponsorship support. One of the industry’s major players, Live Nation, has had deals with two different hotel brands. Currently, Live Nation and Hilton are in the middle of a five-year partnership signed in 2015. Prior to that contract, Live Nation had a six-year deal with Starwood.

Hilton and Live Nation have a few different components to their deal. The first is to reward Hilton members, who can use their HHonors points to get into exclusive events, concerts, and related experiences. Additionally, Live Nation (and its ticketing brand, Ticketmaster) are driving concertgoers to partner hotels by featuring Hilton rooms on the site after guests purchase tickets. Artists and executives under the Live Nation umbrella also qualify for reduced rates at the brand’s hotels. The deal kicked off with Live Nation’s 2015 Summer Spotlight series.

Starwood’s previous deal with Live Nation featured many similar components, especially those regarding the loyalty and rewards programming. Originally a two-year deal signed in 2009, Starwood and Live Nation extended in 2011. Also almost identical were the assets on the Ticketmaster website and Live Nation hotel rates.

Going a different route is Marriott, which had a deal with Universal Music Group. This deal was signed in 2016, and given the merger between Marriott and Starwood, may have something to do with the lack of renewal with Live Nation for the latter brand. This partnership specifically supported the 2016 incarnation of the Honda Civic Tour (which featured Devi Lovato and Nick Jonas that year). Rewards points were available to redeem for VIP experiences like meet and greets or fantastic seats.

 

FILM/TV 

This did not end up being a popular catgory for brands – not least because we’re looking beyond cameos from different hotels in shows. Speaking of, has anyone counted how many times the Omni San Francisco shows up in Silicon Valley? Curious minds want to know.

Another loyalty program benefit, Marriott organized a reunion of cast members from Friday Night Lights as part of the Rewards’ Spartan Race worldwide partnership. And to be honest, this partnership (as it’s meant to), truly focuses more on the race itself, giving Rewards members who complete Spartan Races training resources and other perks. However, those same members were also able to follow the cast members training toward the June 11 race in 2016.

 

EDUCATION

Likewise, hotel brands are not extraordinarily visible within education sponsorship – and that’s not said to be critical. Most brands, regardless of industry, are not in the sponsorship of education to gain awareness, and the benefits of sponsorship reflect that mindset. However, we have found one particular partnership receiving press:

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and the Cornell School of Hotel Administration have aligned efforts at the school’s Center for Hospitality Research. Additionally, the hotel brand has found the Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship (PIHE) to fit its goals as well. Four Seasons will be donating data for a research study (which can only help both sides of the partnership gain insight), and will be receiving visibility through sponsorship of numerous awards and events associated with the school.

 

SPORTS

LEAGUES

Big leagues command big prices. Therefore, it’s no surprise a couple of the largest hotel conglomerates have staked their claims to the Big 4. The NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL are divided in half by two of these brands – can you guess which brand has the rights to each league? (Hint: the brands may actually be related).

 

MLB

Major League Baseball is a hotbed of hotel activity in the sponsorship sphere. Is it the long seasons and associated increased activity in certain neighborhoods due to games? Definitely contributing factors.

Starwood Hotels is one of the more active brands in baseball, holding the “Official Hotel” of the MLB standard, as well as – and you probably guess it – the “Official Hotel Loyalty Program.” When the Cubs started developing the land around historic Wrigley, it was only a matter of time before a hotel became involved, and Starwood jumped at the chance. Not only is Starwood the “Official Hotel” of the team, but also the venue, the team’s spring training and other Cubs organizations, but will be building a property within Wrigleyville itself (this doesn’t appear to have happened yet, with the closest Sheraton being the Sheraton Grand Chicago downtown). It did work out for Spring Training, though, with the Sheraton Wrigleyville West in Mesa, Arizona.

In case you stop by a Sheraton anytime soon, please note you’ll have free access to MLB TV. Not a bad perk for those die-hard baseball fans.

Just sliding into the major league market is Hilton, whose Homewood Suites in the nation’s capital has signed on with the Nats. It made sense: like the planned Chicago Sheraton, the chain had a hotel just across the street. The hotel is also trying to add some perks, with exclusive packages for visitors.

 

NHL

Like the MLB, Starwood has negotiated its way in with the NHL – and there are large loyalty program perks here as well. Tell us, of these potential perks, which would you be most likely to choose:

  • NHL Draft
  • All-Star Game
  • Winter Classic
  • Stadium Series
  • Stanley Cup Playoffs

And Starwood didn’t stop at the league. The brand also has partnerships with a few venues around the world, several of which also are the host of NHL teams. These include Madison Square Garden (New York Rangers) and the Staples Center (LA Kings), which allow loyalty members to also choose perks from various events held by each property.

 

NFL & NBA

Who else has been able to take a big chuck of the sponsorship pie? Marriott. The brand has partnerships with both remaining Big 4 leagues: the NBA and the NFL. The brand has been affiliated with major events hosted by both leagues including the Super Bowl, the NBA Global Games, the NBA Africa Game, and the NBA Canada Series.

When announcing Courtyard by Marriott’s new deal with the NFL, Forbes noted, “A whopping 83% of Courtyard's target customers are NFL fans, with 68% saying they are "passionate" fans.” This partnership saw a successful social media component around Super Bowl 50, resulting in 20% of people who saw Courtyard’s campaign with Rich Eisen saying they will consider Courtyard for their next trip.

 

If you’re interested in learning how to increase use and visibility on social media through your sponsorship deals, check out our other blogs:
Click: How to Incorporate Social Media Into Sponsorship Opportunities
Opportunity Knocks: How to Use Social Media to Elevate Your Activation

 

Other Leagues

Not quite a hotel brand, but certainly a useful site to use when booking, Hotels.com signed on to last year’s AdvoCare Classic. The game was the opener to a season-long deal with IMG.

Minor League Baseball has gone its own way, signing less luxurious, but still easily accessible Best Western as its Official Hotel. Best Western’s CMO at the time, Dorothy Dowling, has said MiLB fans are a great fit with BW’s target demographic; the chain is aiming to attract “men and women, families and the Latino community.”

 

GOLF & TENNIS

We see significant involvement in the realm of golf and tennis from several major hotel brands. Of the eight high profile ‘majors’ in the two sports, three have official sponsors.* Please see below:

Tennis:

Golf:

  • Masters (Open)
  • PGA Championships (Annual)
  • US Open (Open)
  • The Open (Annual)

Quite clearly, tennis is leading the way between the two sports within this category. This is likely due to each of the four tournaments remaining at the same host site year over year; however, it is important to note golf’s Masters tournament is the same, but does not have an official hotel sponsor. The other three men’s golf majors move to varying host sites annually, making it more difficult to guarantee a nearby branch of an official hotel, though Hilton has twice signed on with the PGA Championships in the past (2015 and 2016). Just this year, the PGA TOUR signed a new marketing partner in Omni Hotels & Resorts, though the deal does not appear to contain any guarantees regarding the majors.

With Wimbledon adding sponsors faster than ever, will we see an Official Hotel Provider? We’re not sure, as the tournament’s neighborhood doesn’t appear to hold many chain hotels. London? Definitely. Wimbledon? Not so much.

As in other categories, we see sponsorship in golf and tennis used for reward program members. Westin/SPG, which sponsor the US Open and US Open Live, have luxury suite and courtside seats promotions for members, as well as an onsite activation and signage presence (the latter of which can be seen on the broadcasts). These fans can also take advantage of special rates at The Westin New York at Times Square and The Westin Jersey City Newport.

*Please note: for golf, we are using the four men’s majors. This is due to the larger broadcast and other promotions done in conjunction with those events, though at Tandem we support equality. In terms of sponsorship, the men’s tour is still leading the women’s in potential reach and size of contract.

 

TOUR EVENTS

Like Omni’s deal above, Hilton holds a similar status with golf’s European Tour, and has also become an Official Partner of the British Masters. Unlike the American version at Augusta, the British Masters is not held at the same course each year. Additionally, that French sponsor of two tennis majors, AccorHotels, also plays a big part in golf as a sponsor of the following French tournaments:

  • Evian Championship (held annually in Évian-Les-Bains, France; previously known as the Evian Masters)
  • Alstom Open de France (held annually in Paris, France)

AccorHotels’ brand Novotel is also the official hotel of the French Golf Federation and its tournaments. As stated above, Accor is also a sponsor of tennis’ Australian and French Opens. On the tour, Accor is a sponsor of the Rolex Paris Masters until 2019. That particular event is also held in an arena to which Accor holds title sponsorship status.

 

AUTO RACING

Hotels have a place within the auto racing segment, though it appears their interest, while covering multiple segments, is most concentrated on the areas of international reach. Three brands have a deal related to Formula One, two with IndyCar, and one has a deal with NASCAR implications.

Starwood is the most invested in the auto racing industry as a whole, with sponsorship deals on record with both Mercedes AMG Petronas, an F1 team, and Penske Racing, which races in both NASCAR and IndyCar. Meanwhile, Hilton has shown commitment to its deal, where it’s 13-year tenure (as of earlier this year) with the McLaren F1 team more than doubled the average F1 sponsorship. Rounding up the Formula One pack is Four Seasons, which started sponsoring the Lotus F1 team in 2015 at the Singapore Grand Prix.

hotel sponsorship
Photo by Carl J on Unsplash

Jumping back to IndyCar, Vantage Hotels (which owns the brands Lexington by Vantage and Americas Best Value Inn) has a deal with Jonathan Byrd’s Racing. Those two logos feature on the cars, which participate in 200+ races annually, including one of racing’s largest events: the Indianapolis 500.

 

OLYMPIC SPORTS

One in, one out. Hilton ended its long-term relationship with the United States Olympic Committee upon expiration of its deal at the end of 2016. This was not done to single out the organization at the time, as the brand also chose drop these other sponsorships:

  • Canadian Olympic Committee
  • USA Volleyball
  • USA Gymnastics

Hilton remained a partner of USA Gymnastics’ post-Olympic tour. Following that governing body’s difficulty in securing new sponsors following the Nassar scandal, it is difficult to envision Hilton aligning with the tour in 2020.

Meanwhile, the French brand Accor Hotels offered its support for the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in Paris in 2024. Like the brand’s other sponsorships, it is very France-centric (though you did see an exception or two). While the brand itself owns international hotels, it very much keeps its sponsorship dollars domestic. Prior to its deal with the 2024 Games, Accor has had a deal in place with France’s biggest annual event, Le Tour de France, since 2006. The Tour de France partnership is held by Accor’s budget brand, ibis.

Superbrand Marriott has also branched out into an unlikely partnership with the Rising Pune Supergiants, a cricket team that plays in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Much more likely is the brand’s designation as the team’s official hospitality partner.

 

SOCCER

International soccer can count supporters among hotel brands. Marriott announced a multi-year deal earlier this year with FC Bayern Munich and its Courtyard by Marriott brand. Like many of the hotel’s other deals, it features special perks for Marriott Rewards members (which now includes both Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) accounts). These perks range from access to Bayern’s domestic or European matches and VIP hospitality in-house at the brand’s arena suite.

Just southwest, French group AccorHotels continues its homegrown trend with a sponsorship (expiring this year) of the French Football Federation (FFF). The deal supports the French national teams, amateur football, and the Coupe de France. We’re not sure of the original deal terms, but following Les Bleus triumph in Russia earlier this year, we’ll be watching closely at renewal news – and the associated Euros Accor will be required to fork over.