|The Fairmont San Francisco has a storied history in the TV and film industry.
GLOBAL REPORT—For hoteliers looking to gain attention for their properties, being featured on TV shows or in movies is a lucrative platform. And if harnessed properly, fame and the notoriety that goes with it can be a publicity windfall for those hotels.
As TV shows—particularly reality programs—continue to build a following of avid viewers, more hotels are realizing the benefits of being featured on national and international TV shows that broadcast to upwards of millions of viewers.
“The exposure of international TV shows is important because it promotes both the hotel and the destination,” said Thierry Baurez, director of sales and marketing for Trump Ocean Club Panama, which has been featured on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” local TV shows and international ones including “Fox & Friends” on Fox News Channel.
Where to begin
Whether branded or independent, a hotelier knows that exposure drives demand. However, to be the luxurious destination featured on TV that also attracts awe-struck viewers to check it out, that takes ingenuity and luck.
At the Emily Morgan Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, GM Chris Johnson said he was at the right place at the right time when he was approached by Bravo; producers of the cable network were at The Alamo working on a show and staying at the hotel.
Initially, the producers scouted the location and planned to use the hotel for the show but decided “it wasn’t enough for their needs.” However, the Emily remained on their radar.
“It’s one of those things that once you get in the loop, then (TV producers) seek you out,” he said. Soon after that, the hotel was featured on an episode of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County.
The Fairmont San Francisco has a storied past in cinema and television history. Featured in movies ranging from “Vertigo” to “The Rock,” The Fairmont most recently has been showcased on episodes of “The Bachelor” and Anthony Bourdain’s Travel Channel show “The Layover.”
|The Emily Morgan Hotel in San Antonio, Texas, was featured on the Bravo series “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”
Melissa Farrar, public relations director for the hotel, said being a well-known hotel in the entertainment industry creates a foundation, but she added The Fairmont also has the support of the San Francisco Film Commission and San Francisco Travel.
Creating and building upon those relationships also helps, especially if you’re only a few hours away from Hollywood.
“They refer individuals and groups to us,” Farrar said. “San Francisco, in general, is really coming together to increase viability of filming here.”
“Most opportunities come to us via word of mouth and strong relationships we’ve built within the entertainment industry,” said Robert Cartwright, GM at the Hard Rock San Diego.
A winning formula
Cartwright said the Hard Rock San Diego, featured on “Keeping up with the Kardashians,” “Kendra,” “Gene Simmons Family Jewels,” as well as scripted fare including FX’s series “Terriers” and CW’s “For Better or Worse,” said it’s difficult to track number of bookings linked to a particular show.
But, he added: “Without a doubt, the publicity leads to greater awareness, which in turn results in additional bookings.”
The return on investment isn’t immediate for the Emily Morgan, yet Johnson said he does notice an instantaneous spike in web activity once the hotel is featured on a show.
“Right after a show airs I get 3,000 to 5,000 unique visitors. Then it’s the residuals. Then I get to talk about it and put it on the website. You can’t do much with it prior (to the show airing) but after the fact you get to create some legs,” he said.
Baurez also said he sees an incremental number of visitors to his hotel’s website after the Trump Ocean Club Panama appears on any TV show. To take advantage of those new visitors, Baurez said, “We regularly create specials for those days to make sure to enhance the probability of bookings,” such as “The Bachelor” packages, which include “activities that the show’s stars experienced during the shoot,” he said.
Is all publicity good publicity?
Some shows are more dramatic than others, often exploiting bad behavior in the hotel’s setting. But is all publicity good publicity?
Johnson said he doesn’t see the downside of being the backdrop to the show’s characters acting out.
|Trump Ocean Club Panama offers packages, which include activities the show’s stars experienced during the show.
“If they’re going to have a fight, let’s have it at my hotel,” Johnson said. “It’s about the exposure. (The stars) love the drama, and you just have to make sure you’re not part of it, you’re just hosting it.”
However, when it comes to dealing with the hotel’s employees, Johnson said: “Just be careful of what you say and how you act, and how you manage your associates.”
He also recommends paying special attention to the contract. “What you want to do is try to negotiate something verbal, so they have to mention (the hotel) and show a scene (at the hotel). You can push for something like this—that you want a live shot, that they say the property’s name and show the property,” he said.
The Fairmont’s historic quality adds prestige to the destination, and Farrar said that means having to ensure a show or movie that approaches the hotel complements the brand. “We have to make sure it’s a good fit for us,” he said.
“We only allow TV shows which target the same market segments that the Trump Hotel Collection does,” Baurez said.
Using TV to promote the hotel is one benefit, but Baurez said the exposure promotes the destination as well. “It is vital for Panama to continue garnering exposure and developing into an international tourist destination,” he said.
A concern when filming is disruption to the guests, but sources agreed guests enjoy the experience of watching a show or movie film in the hotel.
“We do everything not to disrupt their stay. We need to maintain that,” Farrar said. This means sometimes filming overnight or during non-peak hours, she said.
“Thanks to the layout of the hotel, we can have a film crew working with total privacy while our guests are not disturbed,” Baurez explained. “The hotel has 20 floors divided in sections of five rooms. During filming, we close off a section exclusively for the film crew.”
Although crews can take over the space and try to work around guests without disruption, Johnson said the guests get into it. “The guests thought it was cool; it was the bling factor,” he said.
Hard Rock San Diego is a property known for celebrity action and entertainment, so people get a “kick out of any television filming at the hotel,” Cartwright said. Guests at the hotel or viewers at home see celebrities at the hotel and it cultivates interest, he said. “The exposure from being featured on a television show is fantastic.”