Thursday, September 18, 2008

Inventive promotion in Central Park

Since I've been at Hotel & Motel Management, it feels like I've heard a lot about Starwood Hotels & Resorts. And even if I haven't, Starwood news always seems to stick with me for some reason. Their latest idea is a good example of this.

On Monday, Starwood recreated lounges it's implementing in its Sheraton brand in New York's Central Park. These lounges sprawl over 34,000 square feet and are there to allow those strolling through on a crisp fall day to feel at home, with Internet access, webcams, TV, daily newspapers and snacks. The company is offering free WiFi in the the park's Sheep Meadow until the end of September.

The Sheraton lounges are called "The Link (at) Sheraton experienced with Microsoft," and represent part of the $4 billion Starwood is spending on the Sheraton brand.

The Central Park promotion sounds like a great idea. Before introducing what it feels is a new, trendy addition to one of its brands, it is (sort of) giving away free samples—like the pretzel stand in the mall handing out its newest cinnamon twist pretzel on toothpicks. Only instead of a pretzel, you can watch TV and check on your fantasy football team. Plus, the location of this promotion targets the right demographic. These samples aren't being handed out to just anybody—this could certainly influence a few business people into trying the Sheraton on their next trip. It may be perceived as over the top, but I think its a winning idea for Starwood.

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