Marriott poised to enter celebrity branding
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Hilton Hotels Corporation announced today that it would be adding the first "celebrity brand" to its European operation.
The new hotel will be located in a former video arcade near the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, and will be called the Hilton Paris Paris Hilton in honor of the company founder's great-granddaughter, Paris Hilton. The Hilton Paris Paris Hilton will join six other hotels already bearing the Hilton logo in or near Paris: the Hilton Paris Arc de Triomphe, the Hilton Paris La Defense, the Hilton Paris Orly Airport, the Hilton Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport, and the Hilton Paris.
This move comes on the heels of information released by the company yesterday that every one of its hotels in Paris is "sold out" for the next 27 months. At first the company was baffled by this development, but now it appears that the buzz created by a 43-minute video tape of Ms. Hilton that is being widely circulated on the Internet has been the sole cause of the increase in reservations at each of the six properties.
A similar phenomenon, though on a much smaller scale, was experienced by the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida. It was there in the late 80's that reservations for room 538 were nearly impossible to book thanks to the notoriety given that room as the site of a peccadillo between TV evangelist Jim Bakker and model Jessica Hahn.
Celebrity branding of lodging properties is not new for the Hilton family of properties (e.g., Fess Parker's DoubleTree Resort Hotel in Santa Barbara, California) but will now be watched more closely by Hilton's competitors. For instance it has been rumored that the board of directors for Marriott International has already commissioned a study of the heirs of that company's chairman and namesake, J. W. Marriott, to identify any "place-sounding names" among those progeny. To date they have discovered an Alexandria, a Florence, a Hilo, and a Sydney.
Finally, in a related news item, it has been rumored that Madonna, perhaps the champion of femme celebs, has expressed interest in buying a controlling interest in the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California. That well-known property would need only a shift in marketing strategy, rather than a name change, to capitalize on the diva's celebrity status.