By Colleen Isherwood, Editor
BOSTON — The Westin Copley Place, Boston Marriott Copley Place and Sheraton Boston Hotel were already doing some
cooperative marketing before the Marriott-Starwood merger, and now, as part of
Marriott's Convention and Resort Network (CRN), they are truly a team, with the moniker, 3-2-1 CONNECT.
Marriott's CRN is a collection of 110 hotels in the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico and Hawaii, said Amy Popper, senior marketing manager, Marriott's CRN. “We partnered together to provide a seamless meeting experience for the network.” The hotels all have specific standards regarding space, event satisfaction and the ability to host national meetings.
“But 3-2-1 was in place even before Marriott got Starwood,” said Alan Smith, general manager of the Boston Marriott Copley Place. Their staffs cooperated on contracts for groups. They set up a system where the contracts didn't have to go through legal approvals. “We've got great feedback and we can do charges back and forth between different hotels.”
The Sheraton Boston Hotel, Boston Marriott Copley Place, and Westin Copley Place Boston feature over 3,100 hotel rooms and nearly 200,000 square feet of meeting space. And now, because the three hotels are all under the Marriott umbrella, everyone can earn points, Smith noted.
“It started about seven years ago,” said Erin Gilroy, director of sales and marketing for the Boston Marriott Copley Place and Sheraton Boston hotels. “We shared a website and collateral — and we did it before we were all one company. It's very, very unique.” The website can be found at https://www.signatureboston.com/hynes/3-2-1-connect.
“It's where your attendees can meet, sleep and play under one roof. Connect your next event to THREE great hotel properties, TWO upscale shopping destinations, and ONE Hynes Convention Center – all set in the heart of Boston's world-famous Back Bay Neighbourhood,” the website says.
Other properties are trying to duplicate this cooperation, Smith said. “The fundamental brand is all the same — in the end we're marketing travel to Boston.”
Membership in CRN is usually for resorts, metropolitan and convention hotels with more than 1,000 rooms. Canada has several members, the latest of which are JW Marriott Parq and The Douglas Autograph Collection hotel.
There's a handoff of information between the hotels — they share information so that members know what's happened at the other properties. Every month, CRN sends out the guest satisfaction scores to the other hotels — inspiring some healthy competition.
“The main benefit is the ability to work with our sister hotels, to put business back and forth,” said Gilroy. “We have a benchmark regarding best practices. The sales people know each other and there is great support from Amy's team.” That assistance comes in the form of different site visit tools including videos for various hotels; contractual assistance; and training.
“It's like we're members of a club — a very collaborative club,” she said.
Both the Westin Copley Place and Boston Marriott Copley Place are connected to the Hynes Convention Centre by the Copley Place Mall.
The Westin Copley Place is 54,000 square feet and has 803 rooms. “Lasalle Hotel Properties are the owners and this is their largest asset,” said hotel manager John Wedig, who has worked there for six years. “This past winter was filled with all sorts of renovations — the ballroom and rooms are all new.. they renovated right down to the cement box in the rooms.”
The most outstanding feature of recent renovations at the 1,147-room Boston Marriott Copley Place are the escalators in the lobby, said Alan Smith, the hotel's GM. “There's also a beautiful picture of the Zakim bridge in front.” They got through the renovation by using elevators and activating the stairwells, and having staff volunteer to point the way.
“The beauty of this hotel is that the meeting space is easy to navigate, so that there's an ease of transition between different sessions. The hotel has been around for 34 or 35 years, and we have lots of tenured associates” said Smith. “The team effort is phenomenal.”
The 38-floor tower is tall, skinny and “stackable”.
With 1,220 rooms including 180 suites and four Presidential Suites, the Sheraton Boston Hotel is the largest and the oldest of the three properties, and is directly connected to the largest halls in the Hynes Convention Centre, said Charles York, resident manager.
“We still have associates that were here 52 years ago.” When the hotel was built in 1964, the area looked quite different. “The Prudential tower is the only building [in the area] that's still here.”
The hotel has 70,000 square feet of meeting space, and its proximity to the convention centre means that meetings there often spill over into the Sheraton. “The Sheraton brand is a cool, iconic brand with a big following,” said York.
“We're bringing it back to its roots,” added Gilroy. “There are significant changes. The lobby emphasis is on a town square environment. There is a saltwater pool, which is the largest indoor and outdoor lap pool in New England And there is a retractable roof.”
Both connecting malls, the Copley Place and Prudential Centre, have been gutted and redone in the last few years. The Hynes Convention Centre is 180,000 square feet, about the size of a Gaylord Hotel's convention space.
“People come to Boston and say they've been there and done that, but there's so much more to see — you need to come back,” said Gilroy. “Fenway Park is not just about the integrity of the park, but about the elevated fan experience, the fact that vendors come to your seat. Our libraries and museums have expanded, we've got the new Institute of Contemporary Art.”
One great advantage of having the three hotels, two malls and one convention centre all linked together is that the weather is under control, said Gilroy. “Even when we have a snowstorm, it's 72 F year round and it's all under one roof.”