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The ‘Phelps brand’ and the Hilton

08_25_phelpsblog.jpgAt the Hilton Convention Center Hotel’s official opening Friday, a Hilton official mentioned the hotel brand’s recent endorsement of Olympic swimmer and Baltimore native Michael Phelps and said they hoped to bring Phelps around the new downtown hotel sometime soon.

David Warschawski, a Baltimore-based sports marketing and branding expert, said the key to Hilton’s partnership with Phelps is to create opportunities where people can actually interact with the athlete rather than just watch him from afar.

“If you can create activities that enhance the chance for guests to have those encounters then you increase your chance of getting people to come to your hotel,” he said.

Examples from Warschawski included giving Phelps eight years of residence (one for each gold medal he earned during the Beijing Olympics) at the Hilton, a free membership to the hotel gym or free dinner reservations at Hilton’s upscale restaurant, Diamond Tavern.

“Just the thought that when you’re booking the hotel you may have a chance to run into Michael, that gives you a lot of media opportunities and it’s a selling point for the hotel,” Warschawski said.

How more likely would you be to book a room at a hotel where you have the off chance of seeing Michael Phelps, or any athlete? Is this an effective marketing tool?

LIZ FARMER, Business Writer