Hospitality experiences are evolving as marketers embrace the FOMO era like never before; serving up money-can’t-buy experiences. Event marketers traditionally are concerned with producing events at scale in an effort to extend the reach of brand messaging—and rightly so. It pays to spread the word. But more and more, the industry is seeing small-scale, high-touch experiences come into play as a way of driving long-term loyalty among key customers. From VIP suites at sporting events to exclusive lounges at music festivals, here’s a look at the brands getting it right.
American Express’ Platinum House is a pop-up experience at Coachella and other stylish events across the U.S. It’s an upscale engagement that provides exclusive access to its Platinum and Centurion cardmembers. The ‘Miami Beach EDITION’ takes place at a beachside hotel, where cardmembers are treated to trendy workout classes with Well + Good, a curated pop-up shop, an immersive art installation and a high-end dining event. And if rewarding loyal customers with lavish experiences isn’t hospitable, what is?
Under Armour’s annual sponsorship of the Preakness Stakes in Maryland serves as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with high-worth clients and showcase the breadth of its celebrity partnerships, in addition to giving its hometown of Baltimore a boost. The brand’s hospitality tent at the event plays host to a constant stream of celebrities and pro athletes, offers extravagant swag bags and features plenty of complimentary bites—a high-end experience for key clients and partners. But it’s the full weekend of hospitality-based events that really help Under Armour connect with clients. Past event experiences include hot-air balloon rides, mechanical bull riding, VIP tours of the brand’s headquarters and evening soirees, along with front-row seats to the race, of course.
Building can’t-miss hospitality experiences is a serious undertaking in and of itself, but Citi takes it a step farther at the 2017 Global Citizen Festival, adding a philanthropic component to its hospitality efforts. In the week leading up to the event, Citi executes intimate experiences like an exclusive Mumford & Sons show for cardmembers that benefits Global Citizen and Children in Conflict.
On-site at the festival, Citi’s cardmember lounge offers customers a place to cool down, watch artists perform and feast on catered fare inside an eco-chic space. Cardmembers visit the on-site mixologist, sip craft cocktails and participate in a shareable Polaroid photo engagement. Adding to the VIP vibe is a series of influencers, including Chelsea Yamase, who makes special appearances at the lounge, giving onlookers one more reason to consider signing up with Citi.
Salesforce always incorporates hospitality experiences into their events. The Salesforce Retail Tour provides their biggest retail customers an insight into how the Salesforce platform solves problems in the retail sector. Complete with a live DJ, cocktails and appetizers, Salesforce takes over two John Varvatos storefronts; one in San Francisco at the close of the first day of the Dreamforce Conference and another in New York after the NRF conference. Using Salesforce Commerce Cloud the brand showcases how John Varvatos uses technology in their stores to create a more connected experience.
It pays to be a Samsung customer at Lollapalooza, where device owners are given an opportunity to win passes to the Samsung Galaxy Lounge each day of the festival. The VIP space offers killer views of the stage. A virtual reality experience puts guests on stage with artists like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Other amenities include daily DJ sets, free branded merchandise like T-shirts and backpacks, and creature comforts like comfy seating, snacks and private restrooms. And while enjoying the lounge, attendees share the experience across their social networks, offering prospective customers a taste of the perks that come with being a loyal Samsung device owner.
Each of these case studies makes it clear that hospitality experiences aren’t what they used to be. Gone are the days of setting up a small tent and offering a few complimentary snacks. Brands today are setting themselves apart by providing clients and customers with a caliber of experience that can’t be matched and driving brand loyalty along the way. And when you boil it down, isn’t that what this industry is all about?
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