Today, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts launched its Go Beyond campaign in celebration of its 80th anniversary. The multifaceted campaign for this industry stalwart -- which includes a new marketing platform, an overhaul of its Web site, guest surprises and associate rallies -- is already playing out in earnest across the brand's 470 hotels in 75 countries.
Days before the new campaign kicked off, the Hotel Insider caught up with Brian McGuinness, senior vice president and global brand leader for Marriott Hotels, Sheraton Hotels and Delta Hotels, at the Sheraton New York Times Square in Manhattan, at prescreening event for the new ad campaign. McGuinness, who came to his role following the Starwood-Marriott merger, had a 20-year career with Starwood. He says the time is ripe for Sheraton to celebrate its seniority status in a crowded sea of brand upstarts and to leverage its well-earned brand history.
"There is a fundamental cachet around the Sheraton brand that we are capitalizing on," says McGuinness, who has overseen every touch point of the brand's new campaign, including the actual day-long, on-site filming. "Sheraton has a strong pioneering history, and we believe turning 80 this year is the perfect opportunity to differentiate ourselves. Do we have all the answers right now, at this exact moment? No. We are still asking ourselves what our differentiator is. And, not just against Marriott, but in the marketplace."
The new campaign is part of the Sheraton 20/20 initiative, a comprehensive 10-point plan that was revealed in June 2015 to put the global spotlight firmly back on the brand. The multipronged approach includes a host of key initiatives whose core vision is to elevate the product into the next century and keep it relevant for the next generation of travelers. It's a vision, says McGuinness, that is as fluid and ongoing as the changing marketplace.
"Remember when getting a martini at a Holiday Inn a few decades ago was a big deal? Then cool swimming pools became the next big thing," says McGuinness. "There will, of course, be brand standards, but there will be freedom within that framework for each hotel to be a standout in its destination. I like to think of it as a language, but with different dialects based on where you are."
On the meetings front, stay tuned to the Sheraton network, as announcements are on the horizon. "We think this renewed emphasis on Sheraton Grand is a great opportunity to recognize meetings," says McGuinness. "We are looking at the physical space and expanding our relationship with meeting planners. In fact, we just announced Sheraton has joined Marriott's Convention Resort Network. There will definitely be more to come about what the meetings program will look like."
Intrinsic to the 20/20 vision is a new focus on the Sheraton Grand portfolio, within the larger Sheraton brand. Currently, there are 37 Sheraton Grand properties worldwide, 50 percent of which are new-builds in the Asia-Pacific region. McGuinness says Marriott International is now squarely focused on elevating the brand's status in the U.S. in the coming years, primarily through renovation and reflagging of existing Sheraton properties.
For example, of the five U.S hotels -- Chicago, Los Angeles, Nashville, Phoenix, and Chandler, Ariz. -- two already have been added to the brand through significant capital injections. In April 2016, the 496-room Sheraton Los Angeles was reflagged Sheraton Grand following a $75 million overhaul. Likewise, later this month the reflagged 482-room Sheraton Grand Nashville Downtown, left, will debut a $35 million renovation.
"This is a big year for us," says McGuinness. "We like to say '80 is the new 20' for Sheraton. Many exciting things are happening, because we are always searching and asking what's next for this brand."
Click here to see the new Sheraton campaign.