Grand Opening Celebration for the Tampa Marriott
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Holmes Report

Grand Opening Celebration for the Tampa Marriott

The opening of the 717-room Tampa Marriott Waterside marked Marriott International’s 2,000th hotel worldwide and represented a significant milestone for one of the most recognized brands in the lodging industry.

Paul Holmes

The opening of the 717-room Tampa Marriott Waterside in Florida marked Marriott International’s 2,000th hotel worldwide and represented a significant milestone for one of the most recognized brands in the lodging industry.  This opening served as an opportunity to celebrate Marriott International’s unparalleled history in the industry, herald the company’s aggressive future growth plans and underscore the brand equity of the Marriott name. 
It also provided a platform from which to profile Marriott International’s incomparable line of diversified sub-brands ranging from luxury to moderate to extended stay; and to drive home via media (TV, consumer business print, trades and Internet) the message that Marriott is a good business and vacation investment.  Florida was selected as the host state for Marriott’s 2,000th property based on (1) market research identifying the state as a leading U.S. destination for both business and leisure travelers, and (2) Marriott’s established, thriving presence in the state (more than 130 existing properties comprising more than 27,000 rooms) served to reinforce brand messages. 
Recognizing that hotel grand openings are a dime a dozen in today’s lodging environment, Marriott could not rely on the property opening alone to generate media interest.  The development of a multi-faceted program specially designed to leverage this milestone was crucial to secure significant consumer business and trade media coverage for Marriott, the brand.
Generate publicity in targeted travel, lodging and meetings publications for the opening of the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marriott global development initiatives to position the company as an industry leader, and Marriott as a preeminent lodging brand.
Reach trade and business media, and the business community overall, to communicate Marriott International’s industry savvy, successful business model and promising growth strategy.
The program for Marriott’s 2,000th Hotel in 2000 was comprised of the following core elements:
Grand opening event:  On Wednesday, April 26 trumpets blared as J.W. Marriott, Jr., Chairman and CEO for Marriott International – alongside key Tampa and property VIPs – “cut the ribbon” in a lavish celebration for the opening of the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel.  The opening ceremony was followed by a luncheon for 400 community and industry leaders hosted by former Olympic gold medallist, Bart Conner.  Event festivities were covered by a host of local broadcast and print media including the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times.
CNBC’s Today’s Business: A conduit for the business community, CNBC’s Today’s Business was secured to host a 17-minute live, on-property interview with J.W. Marriott, Jr. during the 6-7 a.m. hour on the day of the grand opening.  During the segment, “Breakfast With the CEO,” Mr. Marriott and host Liz Claman toured the hotel, reviewed the company’s history and discussed management tactics, growth strategies and the outlook for lodging stocks.
Trade press trip:  A press trip designed to garner significant international coverage was organized for 18 U.S. journalists representing travel, lodging and meeting trades, business publications and online media, as well as 31 international journalists representing top Latin American news outlets.  With the grand opening celebration as the centerpiece, the three-day itinerary included a tour and dinner in Tampa’s historic Ybor City.
Media briefing/One-on-one interviews:  The day of the grand opening celebration all press trip attendees participated in a morning media briefing with J.W. Marriott, Jr., the general manager for the Tampa Marriott Waterside and the Sr. VP for Marriott’s southeast region about the significance of the 2,000th property and future Marriott International development initiatives.  A second briefing unveiling the outlook for Marriott International’s brand portfolio followed the event luncheon, and numerous one-on-one interviews with key corporate and property executives were held throughout the day. 
Event press kit:  Special press materials were developed in conjunction with the event including news releases on the opening of the Tampa Marriott Waterside hotel, Marriott International's intention to add 175,000 hotel rooms within the next five years, the company’s presence and growth in Tampa/Florida and Latin America; as well as property and destination information, corporate backgrounders, executive bios and property slides.
20 total minutes of airtime on CNBC reaching 1 million combined household viewers with a live interview and five preceding promotional teasers worth $410,00 (ad value).
1.5 million combined circulation for print coverage with impressions totaling 4.8 million.
Feature coverage in key trades including Lodging (3 articles), Travel Weekly (2 articles), Travel Agent, Convention South (3 articles), Corporate Meetings & Incentives, Meetings & Conventions, Recommend.
Business coverage in top consumer publications, including Washington Post, Investor’s Business Daily, Atlanta Business Chronicle
160 million online hits (combined average per month) including such sites as,,, and 
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