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Hotels add on exclusive experiences

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Carrie Vonderhaar/Ocean Futures Society

Hotels are keeping customers happy by going experiential
Major hotel brands are using their corporate power to offer high-value guests one-of-a-kind experiences, such as cooking with a Michelin-starred chef, snorkelling in Hawaii with Jean-Michel Cousteau, or a basketball clinic with a big-name player.
With eye-catching experiences like these, hoteliers are hoping to keep their regular customers happy beyond simply giving them the usual upgrades, while fending off competitors like Airbnb.
Marriott, which now has 30 hotel brands to worry about, recently gave a small group of rewards members a two-day course at the Old Greenwood Golf Course in Lake Tahoe with Annika Sorenstam, who is in the World Golf Hall of Fame.
“Hotels have started to feel the pinch from encroachment,” said Gina Cavato, analyst for lifestyles and leisure at Mintel. “They are trying to boost loyalty programs by offering unique rewards options.”
Marriott’s masterclasses also include basketball skills training at the JW Marriott in Miami with Dwyane Wade of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and surfing lessons on a standing wave machine at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Florida with big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton.
There is also a workshop with National Geographic photographer Ralph Lee Hopkins at the Gramercy Hotel in Manhattan, and a tutorial on underwater conservation taught by Jean-Michel Cousteau at the Ritz-Carlton in Kapalua, Hawaii.
Participants have to bid for the classes using rewards points. Some of the most prized packages go well beyond 300,000 points – a lot of hotel stays.
The New York Times

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