(from Billboard Magazine, April 13, 2013) Concerts in hotels may sound like a recipe for disaster, but that’s exactly what Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is using to build up their guest-rewards program, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). In partnership with Live Nation, Starwood will turn its signature hotels into venues for intimate acoustic sets by artists such as OneRepublic, Sara Bareilles, and Imagine Dragons. “On Tour With SPG: Hear the Music, See the World” will feature a total of nine performances exclusive to SPG rewards members.
The use of music to build rewards program brand recognition is not exactly a novel concept. For years, American Express, Citi, and MasterCard have tied their rewards programs to members-only ticket presales. Recently, the focus has shifted to creating more unique fan experiences. Pepsi, for example, has rebranded its rewards program to Pepsi Experience Points to utilize fan creativity by featuring a cover-song contest in conjunction with music app SongBooth. For Starwood, the goal is to build upon the exclusive artist events it hosted in 2012. Since the events are only open to SPG rewards members, it’s a major business driver. “It helps curb attrition, the number of nights guests stay,” says Gretchen Kloke, Starwood Vice-President of SPG Marketing.
What sets “Hear the Music, See the World” apart is its emphasis on artist/venue pairing. Sara Bareilles, who incorporates green elements into her tours and had a partnership in 2010 with Whole Foods, will play at the Element Dallas Fort Worth Airport North, a hotel focused on green and sustainability initiatives. The Westin Boston Waterfront, a location known for promoting health and fitness– lifestyles important to OneRepublic front man, Ryan Tedder, will feature the band on June 3rd. Imagine Dragons will headline the new Aloft in Cupertino, California because of the brand’s focus on tech-forward innovation. Being in close proximity to Apple headquarters, there is a talk of a closed-circuit viewing party on Apple products. “We’ve been lucky enough to play in cities around the world this last year,” says Imagine Dragons singer Dan Reynolds, “but it’s always nice to be back in California.”