Among all the types of guests hotels could have, celebrities can be the most demanding and the most rewarding guests. Back in the heyday of rock n’ roll, Andaz West Hollywood became well known as the place frequented by bands such as The Who, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin. “There may have been a few occurrences of controversial celebrity behavior that had helped cement Andaz as one of the most legendary hotels of all times, but in the long run they proved to be well worth it from a PR perspective“ says celebrity sourcing expert Jonathan Schenker of Bookmark Entertainment, one of Asia’s leading celebrity booking agencies, in an interview.
In every major city in the world there is a hotel with the reputation of a celebrity hot-spot. “In London, The Mayfair Hotel, Blake’s and Claridges are among the hotels most frequently visited by celebrities.” notes Schenker and names other examples: “In Miami, it’s the W South Beach, in Hong Kong, it’s the The Ritz-Carlton and the Mandarin Oriental, in Shanghai it’s The Peninsula and in Mumbai, it’s the JW Marriott.“
The impact celebrity guests have on hotels should not be underestimated. First, there’s the seemingly free publicity, which comes with mentions in the media. Second, there’s the reputation within the industry that attracts other celebrity guests.
What appears as free publicity a hotel can get from celebrities’ patronage is not always easy to achieve, specifically when protecting the guests’ privacy is a major responsibility that any reputable hotel must abide to. Of course, there isn’t a single “type” when it comes to celebrity guests; while some shy away from the media, others love to be in the center of attention – and these are the ones who tend to be most valuable when creating the “celebrity aura” around a hotel. If a celebrity is not averse to having information about their stay in the hotel published in magazines and other outlets, a hotel can always offer a special rate for the stay or even pay the celebrity for it.
Samuel L. Jackson is an example for this strategy: every time he heads to Las Vegas, he stays at The Palms Hotel which first had invited him to the hotel opening back in 2001. He keeps coming back ever since – “making it obvious that both Mr. Jackson and the hotel regard this relationship to be mutually beneficial” Schenker, who has worked with A-listers such as Rihanna or Lady Gaga, points out.
Celebrity guests require celebrity treatment and developing relationships with their relevant agents and management is crucial for a hotel’s reputation in the industry. The well established hotel may have experienced in-house personnel to negotiate the terms with the celebrities’ representatives, however – most hotels don’t. These hotels tend to use the services of celebrity consultants or celebrity sourcing agencies to initiate contact with celebrities’ representatives and negotiate on their behalf. A well-versed expert will get the best deal possible for both sides.
The end result of the effort should, of course, be seen through increased income and reduced costs. If a hotel gets publicity from the celebrities’ stay, it might make advertisement almost unnecessary. If the word gets out that celebrities frequent a certain hotel, others will want to stay there as well – both celebrities and regular guests. The actual stay of a celebrity itself might not be profitable for the hotel – but the effect of it has the potential to increase the long-term profits and provide a clear branding benefit. What is quite interesting and what many don’t know is, what happens behind the scenes: A hotel’s celebrity reputation isn’t created by itself. Special deals for very special guests are inevitable if a hotel wants to become “the place to be”.