Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 06 2014

How One Of The Richest People In The World Unveils A New Hotel

By David McMillin

Each room comes with a personal masseuse. The doorknobs are made of diamonds. The bathroom water is actually champagne.

What do all of these crazy claims about a new hotel have in common? They've all been submitted by Twitter users in the “Rumors” contest sponsored by the soon-to-be-opened Virgin Hotel in Chicago. There is no official opening date, but the mystery surrounding Richard Branson’s entrance into the hotel business is giving prospective guests the chance to be one of the first to see the property. The contest is simple: tweet your own “rumor” with the #VirginRumors hashtag, and you’ll be entered for the opportunity to win a two-night stay at the new property.

SEE ALSO: One On One With Sir Richard Branson

Parting Ways With Old-School Promoting

Typically, a hotel opening isn't exactly secretive business. A property’s PR team promotes the basics: square footage, meeting rooms, amenities, construction time, etc., etc., etc. While all of those details are certainly important to establishing the property as a destination for meeting planners, business travelers and leisure guests, they do little to drum up excitement about the experience.

Branson and Virgin have flipped the traditional model upside down. Instead of a press release with a quote trumpeting the bells and whistles of the property, Branson enlisted The Most Interesting Man In The World to unleash this creative video and invite users to do the work for him.

Over the past few months, I’ve written a number of pieces on the potential challenges that hotels may face in the future. As an emerging generation of guests search for a break from the traditional guest experience, Virgin’s marketing campaign is a perfect example of rethinking the way properties engage with travelers. It’s fun. It’s simple. It’s hip.

SEE ALSO: Why Hotels Are Working Harder Than Ever Before To Care For The Earth

They Aren’t All Rumors

Despite plenty of fun speculation about Virgin’s first-ever hotel, there are some actual true pieces of information. The property is in the Old Dearborn Bank Building in the heart downtown Chicago (203 N. Wabash). The property will be LEED-certified and Green Seal-Certified and feature more than 200 rooms and 42 suites. Guests will be able to take advantage of an on-site spa and three on-site restaurants.

Have a rumor you want to spread? Click here to check out the contest.

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