When you look at the target audience segmentation of most outdoor sport brands, you’ll find a desirable set that is well educated, has above average income and travels frequently for business. So, it should come as no surprise that brands are partnering with hotels to get closer to this busy, hard-to-reach business traveler.
This started back in 2012 when Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide formed a partnership with New Balance, allowing hotel visitors to rent footwear and apparel for a small fee. From what we can tell, The Westin was the first to get on this trend of lending guests the running and fitness brand’s shoes, shorts and shirts — along with capri pants and jog bras for women. Borrowing the gear costs $5, and includes a new pair of socks for guests to keep that retail for about $6. That seemed like a smart idea; a win-win for both sides, providing exposure to the lucrative business traveler for New Balance while providing a real value-added guest service from The Westin.
We’ve now moved from gear-lending to full on partnerships.
In May of 2016, outdoor brand Trew started renting out a “Trew Bunkhouse” on Airbnb that included a swell of gear for adventure-seeking vacationers. Along with hardgoods like bikes, paddle boards and kite-surfing boards, the Bunkhouse was stocked with apparel and footwear, and recommendations that tapped Portland’s most outdoorist attractions. The idea was to provide a complete branded lifestyle; in essence, what it’s like to live and breathe Trew.
Meanwhile, Marriott Hotels partnered with GoPro to “give our guests a perfect way to capture their Marriott travel”. The hotel chain is inviting guests to test drive new GoPro models, and to share their videos:
The notion of these partnerships suggests a new opportunity for brands to demo their products, to reach the guest in a time of vacation or business travel when their regular gear is at home and not in the carry-on.
In more niche hotels, we’re seeing other brands take a place in the guests’ hotel experience. The luxe Gansevoort Park Avenue hotel in New York City has partnered with indoor cycling brand Flywheel to open the new Gansevoort Park Studio, a stadium-style indoor cycling facility featuring 50 high-tech bikes and expert-led fitness classes. Founded by legendary indoor cycling instructor Ruth Zukerman, the brand opened its flagship studio in Manhattan’s flatiron district in February 2010 and has since expanded with studios in various cities across the U.S. including Boston, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles. The Gansevoort Park Studio is the ninth Flywheel studio in Manhattan and marks the brand’s first partnership with a hotel.
And, in Canada, Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel provides guests with the opportunity to borrow custom, single speed, cruiser-style bikes built by Gallant Bicycle Company. With Gallant’s mandate to design, paint, and assemble their bikes in downtown Toronto, the Gladstone Hotel says it’s excited to provide “bikes-to-borrow that are just as locally-aligned as the hotel’s other arts projects, room amenities and restaurant”.
Another offshoot of the hotel fitness movement is providing healthy food and expert advice. EVEN Hotels swapped traditional room service splurges with healthier food choices and more relaxing spaces to enjoy the dishes (plus workout tools like a Bosu ball, resistance band and foam roller in each room). EVEN also claims to keep wellness-savvy staff on hand for fitter recommendations. Under Armour and Residence Inn jumped on the bandwagon, pairing UA’s Connected Fitness platform with unique Residence locations (around 700) to create custom running routes for the hotel.
Speaking of Under Armour, Sporting Goods Business reported recently that (although not under the UA banner), their CEO Kevin Plank’s real estate development enterprise Sagamore Development Company recently teamed up with Pendry Hotels to open its first site on the east coast in early 2017. The hotel, Sagamore Pendry Baltimore, could be a baby step on the way toward a stand-alone Under Armour hotel.