A Marketing Blitz in New Orleans

Market where your customers congregate is a good business maxim. That’s one of the rationales management at the soon-to-open Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans employed in marketing the restored property to its potential customers. The hotel, which reopens this June following a four-year hiatus, built a fully furnished and equipped model of one of its 504 guestrooms in the main lobby of New Orleans Louis Armstrong Airport to give potential guests a preview of the luxury property.

“To create the space, we brought in the same carpenters, electricians and other craftsmen who are restoring the hotel,” says Mark Wilson, the Roosevelt’s director of sales and marketing. “We told them, ‘build a Roosevelt New Orleans guestroom on this spot,’ and they did it in two days.”

The room is visible through a clear wall and includes a king-sized bed (80 percent of the property will be kings), a desk, tables, chairs, a dresser and other items. The room, located in a former retail location at the intersection of two airport concourses, will remain there through June.

The hotel, which is part of Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria Collection, has nearly as much history as New Orleans itself. It originally opened in 1893 as the Grunewald and then was rebranded 30 years later as The Roosevelt in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. The hotel entered its heyday in the mid-1960s, when it was rebranded again as The Fairmont. During the 1960s and ‘70s, the Fairmont’s Blue Room was one of the nation’s premier entertainment showrooms, featuring such stars of the day as Tony Bennett, Louis Armstrong and Sonny and Cher. The Fairmont never reopened after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and is now undergoing a $145-million restoration.

The hotel is also using social media to promote the reopening. This blog features news about the renovation and reflects on the history of the property. Visitors are asked to share their reminisces of the hotel under its various names. A recent entry included recipes for the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz, two signature New Orleans cocktails that will again be served when the Sazerac Bar reopens.

The Roosevelt isn’t the first hotel to be previewed in an airport. Leading up to the 2007 opening of the first Cambria Suites, Choice Hotels built a full-scale model of a guest unit and placed it in the Boise, ID Airport, near the site of the brand’s first property. Airport visitors were able to walk through the Cambria suite to get a 360-degree look at the new product.

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