Media Relations: Media enjoys Ride as Turnberry plugs new Vegas condos

Las Vegas isn't known for its upscale housing communities - with good reason. The heart of the city is a loud, garish mecca of tourist-friendly indulgences -an atmosphere made all the more inhospitable by summer temperatures regularly entering triple digits.

Las Vegas isn't known for its upscale housing communities - with good reason. The heart of the city is a loud, garish mecca of tourist-friendly indulgences -an atmosphere made all the more inhospitable by summer temperatures regularly entering triple digits.

So when Turnberry Associates decided to build the first upscale, high-rise condominium complex on the Vegas Strip in 20 years, it called for a sales pitch that would rival most political campaigns.

Turnberry's construction site and set-up only added to the list of obstacles. "The piece of property on which it was going to be built was on the north end of the Vegas Strip, which was not then the desirable end," says O'Connell & Goldberg president Jim O'Connell. "It was right near the old Circus Circus and El Rancho hotels."

What's more, sales of the units would have to be conducted in a trailer on the construction site, a locale not conducive to showcasing the condo's main selling points: luxurious amenities and a majestic view of Las Vegas.

Strategy

Turnberry execs and O'Connell & Goldberg decided they would let the condos speak for themselves, regardless of the fact that they did not yet exist. They would construct a mock-up in a trailer outside the actual site that would not re-create a single unit, but the entire experience of living on an upper floor of the complex.

"We thought the biggest selling point would be the views, to be able to stand out on the balcony of this luxury apartment and see the strip, the desert, and mountain ranges beyond that," says O'Connell.

The trailer - which would re-create that view, as well as provide a fun, hi-tech tour through an ultra-modern living space - was scheduled to be unveiled at a pair of opening-night parties for media and local civic leaders.

Tactics

O'Connell, a former theatrical lighting designer, describes what came to be known as "The Ride" as "a full-scale modern apartment built inside a larger rectangular box, which we called 'the sound stage,' that would allow space to accommodate the scenery outside." The units were also "floated" - four feet of clearance was left above and below the "balcony" - to allow for a sense of standing in the night sky, and a view of the Vegas Strip was recreated "off in the distance."

As The Ride was being constructed, the team fanned local media interest by stressing the uniqueness of the complex and its sales method. All local TV and radio networks, daily papers, and lifestyle magazines were invited to the opening, as were local civic and business leaders.

On each of the two opening nights in mid-April 1999, 600 guests stood on long lines to experience The Ride - lines that grew longer as many opted to go through a second and third time.

Local coverage was near absolute. Every local TV affiliate covered the event, and one even broadcast from the spot for the entire following day.

The media campaign went further once the first building opened to residents in December 2000. National media had been slow to show interest in the early days of the campaign, but many responded to pitches once residents started moving in.

Results

Last year, the Chicago Tribune credited Turnberry Place with starting a construction trend in Las Vegas that was turning the city into "a little Los Angeles." The LA Times, AP, Reuters, and Crain's also have taken notice.

The real results, however, are the sales. The first building has been fully occupied since its doors opened. A second building is also 100% sold, and a third is 90% sold. A fourth building is slated to be opened soon.

Future

O'Connell & Goldberg continues to promote Turnberry Place, as well as a number of other Turnberry properties.

PR team: Turnberry Associates (Aventura, FL) and O'Connell & Goldberg (Hollywood, FL)

Campaign: Launching Turnberry Place, Las Vegas

Time frame: Spring 1999 to present

Budget: $95,000 annually ("The Ride" cost an added $300,000)

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