Marriott Unveils Hotel Lobby Replicas at Airports

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

Dubbed “Refreshing Business,” the lobby concept began rolling out in 2008, and the new design has already been implemented at more than 180 Courtyard by Marriott hotels in the U.S. An additional 250 redesigns are planned by the end of this year.

Now, Courtyard by Marriott is taking the concept a step further by recreating 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. (In a separate effort last October, parent company Marriott launched an ad campaign across U.S. airports to showcase various new features, including its redesigned lobbies.)

To kick off the effort, Courtyard by Marriott created a replica of its new lobby at Grand Central Terminal. Grammy award winner Legend took center stage, as guests marveled at the relaxing lounge equipped with tables and couches, as well free Wi-Fi, a giant touch screen displaying local weather and media pod workstations. 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.