By Kait Shea
Citi relies on close ties to the entertainment industry to help differentiate its brand.
There was a time not so long ago when hospitality experiences were nothing to write home about. The setup, usually part of a sports sponsorship, generally included a few beers and bites under a sad white tent, and when the game ended, so did the brand engagement. Flash forward to 2017, and the landscape is drastically different. Brands today are producing memorable, once-in-a-lifetime hospitality experiences in an effort to educate attendees on their products and personality, drive long-term loyalty, close business deals and above all, strengthen relationships with key clientele. The stakes are higher, the assets are greater and the competition is fierce. Welcome to hospitality in the FOMO era.
MAKING THE MOST OF ASSETS
More than ever, brands are leveraging what they’ve already got to enhance their hospitality experiences. It’s an opportunity to make the most of their assets and stretch those budget dollars just a bit farther. Under Armour, for example, has begun to take advantage of its relationship with top athletes, like heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua. In April, the brand hosted top European clients in London at the Anthony Joshua Championship Fight at Wembley Stadium—an event that drew the biggest boxing audience the UK had seen in almost 80 years, and an experience the clients won’t soon forget.
“More and more we’re utilizing the really unique things about our brand to draw in our business partners and clients,” says Kelley Walton, senior director-global events and athlete tours at Under Armour. “Any brand can plan an amazing weekend at a top resort for their top clients, but only Under Armour can offer our business partners and clients the chance to meet Stephan Curry and sit courtside at his event… So, I think we’re really trying to leverage those assets that we have even more than in the past to create these experiences that money can’t buy for our clients.”
The same goes for Grant Thornton, an accounting firm that serves as the official accounting services provider for the Tony Awards. Although it had strictly relied on sports sponsorship-based hospitality experiences in the past, the brand recognized a gap in entertainment-based hospitality events and in the past two years has leveraged its relationship with the esteemed awards program to offer clients an exclusive Tonys experience.
For this year’s Tony Awards, Grant Thornton invited a top client and his wife to participate in its VIP experience as a couple, which included a two-night stay at the Plaza Hotel, a salon and shopping experience at Bergdorf Goodman, a pre-cocktail reception and an official red carpet photo op at the awards show. The experience also included entry to the official Tonys after party gala and a takeaway photo of the couple’s red carpet moment, which the brand mailed home.
“I think the different properties within the [hospitality] category are approaching things differently,” says Carol Tarver, director-sports marketing at Grant Thornton. “They’re trying to enhance their assets. It’s not just a basketball game—it’s a family …read more