Guests at W Hotels have come to expect “Whatever/Whenever.” But this year’s presidential election finds the luxury chain partnering with get-out-the-vote organization Declare Yourself in order to push that motto one step further—allowing guests to register to vote right from bed.
It’s nothing new for hotels to create special packages around events, of course. But the intense interest in this year’s presidential campaign and election has resulted in packages not just in blue and red states, but also in countries around the world.
For example, this is the first time the Hotel Concorde La Fayette in Paris has run a promotion to coincide with any U.S. presidential election. Chef Laurent Belijar has always been interested in politics, said Concorde Hotels Director of Communications, Vanina Sommer, and this election’s focus on change has taken his interest to a new level. He’s created two burgers with the candidates in mind: the Hawaiian-themed O-Burger for the 50th state’s native son, and the Southwestern-flavored Elephant Burger for the senator from Arizona.
The unprecedented interest has also prompted the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island in Florida to offer its first ever election special—an election-night package that offers real presidential perks: a private jet, motorcade, even fireworks. (At $15,000, though, paying for it may require taxpayer dollars.)
It’s not just the big chains that are harnessing the election excitement. California’s Avalon Beverly Hills, for example, has unveiled candidate-inspired cocktails—the “Obamarita” (Patron silver, blue curacao, fresh lime juice, and prosecco) and the “McCainade” (Jim Beam, Amaretto, lemonade, iced tea, and grenadine). “I wanted to offer our politically charged diners a fun and playful way to support their favorite candidate,” said Executive Chef Scott Garrett.
Some hotels are taking a different tack, trying to spare guests the agony of one more candidate profile or tit-for-tat exchange. One place is the Five Gables Inn & Spa, just outside Washington, D.C. in St. Michaels, Maryland. “Talking to guests during the 2004 election,” said owner Bonnie Booth, “we came to the conclusion that everyone falls victim to election overload.” So the inn created the “Beltway Buster” package, which offers a room, massage, dinner, and daily delivery of The Washington Post…with all election coverage removed.
Why are hotels dreaming up such elaborate and varied election packages?Some are looking to boost bookings, plain and simple. “Election time and election years are actually typically slower as people are involved in the business of elections and tend to save money,” said Greg Velasquez, Director of Sales & Marketing at the US Grant Hotel in San Diego, which is highlighting its presidential heritage (the 100-year-old property is named after our 18th president) with a new, politically themed bar menu. “We thought playing off the campaign would be a fun and appealing way to keep patrons excited about the property.”
But getting heads in beds isn’t the only motivation behind this election season trend. “Hotels generally try to create packages to generate media attention,” said hotel consultant Rick Swig. “The election provides an opportunity for some buzz. It’s really about market visibility, promotion, and positioning.” Sounds a lot like politics.