Fun Ball

Starwood’s marketing gurus — and their consultants, presumably — have run amok. Someone needs to get back control of White Plains.

They’re rolling out a partnership between W Hotels and Victoria’s Secret, as though the opportunity to buy naughty nighties from the minibar is going to enhance the experience of cool or make customers want to choose the hotel. (The pickup scene in the hotel lobby bar is another matter, indeed.)

Sponsor the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. Fine. Offer experiential rewards at the event for redeeming lots of Starwood points. Fine. And if you want to include lingerie next to the condoms, W baseball cap, and Jim Bean on the minibar price list I guess that works (though I doubt one size fits all!).

Perhaps even include a list of lingerie in the room services menu in a variety of sizes. Or just offer Victoria’s Secret boutiques off the lobby.

But the key to making all of this work is subtlety. And making sure that it’s the right partnership. Because you can only cross-brand with a couple of products that fit. See, offering the CDs in the room for the sale works. People can play them and they hear the music in the lobby and they might actually want to take them home.

In other words, you need to co-brand with products that are helpful to your guests and enhance their stay. And build their loyalty. The music CDs are keyed to their hotel stays, so playing the music reminds them of their stay and reminds them that their lifestyle includes the W.

Does Victoria’s Secret do that? I don’t know. I don’t want to dismiss it out of hand. But (1) does it fit? and (2) is it done in a way that doesn’t make someone feel marketed to, but instead offers them a convenience… perhaps a convenience they didn’t already know they wanted, but when they see it they say “oh, how thoughtful!” Otherwise you dilute rather than reinforce the brand.


Along the same lines of investing resources in strange places (places other than better service, better facilities, and incentives for stays), W Hotels are introducing Fun Ball machines.

    Now through the end of April, each time you check into a W Hotel you get the chance to spin the “Fun Ball” machine for prizes that can value up to $4,800.


    From T-shirts to caps, food and free nights, everyone will win something from the gumball-like machine

Thanks, but I’d prefer some bonus points or to have hotels use the promo money to hire enough front desk staff.

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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