Marriott Puts Hotel Lobby Replicas in Airports

Marriott knows how to make a statement when it comes to out-of-home marketing. On Tuesday, the chain transformed Vanderbilt Hall at New York’s Grand Central Terminal into a hotel lobby and invited musician John Legend to perform.

Last October, Marriott launched an ad campaign across U.S. airports to showcase its redesigned lobbies. Dubbed “Refreshing Business,” the lobby concept began rolling out in 2008, and the new design has been implemented at more than 180 Marriott hotels in the U.S. An additional 250 redesigns are planned by the end of this year.

Now Marriott is taking the concept a step further by re-creating actual hotel lobbies at airports nationwide, including Chicago O’Hare, Hartsfield Atlanta and Denver International. Starting Sept. 15 through Nov. 14, travelers will get free access to the lobbies, where they can browse the Web and relax before a flight.

To kick off the effort, Marriott created a replica of its new lobby at Grand Central Terminal. Grammy Award-winner Legend took center stage, as guests relaxed at tables and on couches. Free WiFi, a giant touch screen displaying local weather and media pod workstations were also provided. Janis Milham, Marriott’s vp and global brand manager, said the brand is on track with rolling out these new lobbies at 500 hotels by the end of 2011.

Milham noted that guerilla-type marketing was the best approach to reach its target demo: business travelers. “We wanted to make a statement that we’re classic and contemporary, and we think that John Legend performing at such a historical site as Grand Central reflects that perfectly,” she said.