American Marketer


Four Seasons drives SXSW foot traffic via radio partnership

February 11, 2013


Four Seasons Hotel Austin is driving foot traffic during the South by Southwest Conferences and Festivals by partnering with local public radio station KUT-FM 90.5 to offer live festival broadcasts and interviews at the hotel.

The hotel property and KUT-FM will host early-morning music broadcasts March 13-16 that will feature live festival performances and interviews with artists to give locals and guests more ways to engage in the SXSW experience. The hotel started the broadcasts in 2000 and have had them grow into a large event with more than 1,000 attendees per day.

“For hotel guests, our live broadcasts provide another opportunity to make the most of their SXSW experience,” said Kerri Holden, director of public relations and social media at Four Seasons Hotel Austin.

“As [KUT-FM] hosted the broadcasts, they would mention where they were on-air and give real color to the festival happenings at the hotel, which has become sort of an unofficial gathering spot for SXSW attendees,” she said. “The more people heard about all the fun on the radio, the more they wanted to be a part of it.”

The festival experience

Four Seasons Hotel Austin holds the broadcasts in the hotel’s Ballroom 7-11 a.m. Central Time Wednesday-Friday and 8 a.m.-noon Central Time on the Saturday of the festival.

The broadcasts are open to the public with admission priced at $10 per day which includes breakfast foods and coffee. The proceeds go to the Seton Shivers Cancer Center at Brackenridge Hospital in Austin.

These broadcasts have helped Four Seasons raise more than $115,000 for its charity over the years.

In addition, the spa at the hotel property is offering mini-treatments throughout each day’s events to keep festival goers and music enthusiasts refreshed during the festivities.

The broadcasts began in 2000 as a small event in the lobby of the hotel property. Now, the broadcasts have grown into an event in itself.

“We did not consciously set out to have the broadcasts, but seeing what they have become today, we could not have dreamed up a better way to be a part of the festival and the Austin community,” Ms. Holden said.

The SXSW performances have not been finalized for 2013 yet, but past performers have included Willie Nelson, The Black Keys, Norah Jones, Lyle Lovett, The White Stripes and others.

Alabama Shakes at a SXSW showcase

“While the SXSW team does an excellent job of coordinating the festival schedule, it is impossible to be two places at once,” Ms. Holden said. “Since our broadcasts are in the morning before most official festival showcases, guests can see some of the artists they might not get a chance to otherwise.”

Blending with the locals

Four Seasons has created special offerings and programs at its various properties that show it is in touch with local cultural events.

Currently, Four Seasons Hotel New York is inviting Fashion Week goers to share their footwear choices via an on-site shoe photo booth and follow the action via Instagram and Twitter.

The hotel is encouraging attendees including fashion editors, bloggers, celebrities and other tastemakers to visit the property through the digital- and mobile-based effort.

Four Seasons seems to be asserting its status as a trendy hotel brand since the message could go viral on Fashion Week attendees’ smartphones and tablets via the hashtag and social check-ins by influential users (see story).

Also, Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea strengthened its reputation as not only a high-end travel brand, but a provider of cuisine and entertainment through an event and hotel stay package that aligned with the Wailea Wine & Food Festival Dec. 6-9.

The property participated in the festival by offering the Red Violin Opus One Event that included a hotel stay, private concert and food and wine pairing.

Guests attended a concert by Elizabeth Pitcairn, violinist and owner of the iconic 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius, and dined on a five-course menu that corresponded with the history of the violin (see story).

Specialized local events at hotel properties can help show consumers that the Four Seasons is in-tune with and supports the local culture.

“Austin is such a music-centric city, so hosting these events really speaks to locals and has made us a vital part of the community,” Ms. Holden said.

“Also, because our broadcasts draw in a largely local audience, guests are able to get a feel for Austin’s unique personality as they enjoy the music,” she said.

Final take

Erin Shea, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York