Starwood to court media for new hotel chain

NEW YORK: Starwood Hotels has a multiyear media relations plan in place for the launch and eventual opening of its new chain of hotels announced last Monday.

NEW YORK: Starwood Hotels has a multiyear media relations plan in place for the launch and eventual opening of its new chain of hotels announced last Monday.

The hotels, currently named XYZ, will have a lower price point, but similar theme as its W Hotels. Starwood expects the first one to open in 2007.

KC Cavanaugh, VP of PR for Starwood, said the initial media focus would be on business and developer trades.

"It's not yet a design, lifestyle, or consumer story," Cavanaugh said.

Cavanaugh said a media element was in place for each construction milestone reached.

Milestones include releasing the finalized brand name and the names of developers, unveiling a model room at the Americas Lodging Investment Summit in January, securing hotel locations, breaking ground, and the opening of the first hotel.

"PR is going to be a crucial vehicle for marketing these properties," Cavanaugh said. "We expect to get as much press with XYZ as we did with W."

The company timed the launch with an exclusive in the Wall Street Journal's Marketplace section and an announcement at the NYU International Hospitality Investment Conference on Monday.

"The moderator [of a discussion featuring Starwood CEO Steven Heyer] held up the copy of the WSJ and said, 'Everything I was going to ask you was covered in this story,'" Cavanaugh said.

After the panel, Starwood brought developers and the media to an experiential XYZ room at the New York W.

The launch was handled by Starwood's internal team of five, with assistance from Jane Lehman, director of PR for W Hotels. Starwood does not currently have an external agency, but Cavanaugh said the hotel would most likely look for one in the future.

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