Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

Westin Shows Sponsors How It's Done At US Open


When Roberta Vinci and Brian Dabul walk out onto Arthur Ashe Stadium tonight to play their first round matches, they'll be wearing the Westin logo on their shirts.

Arthur Ashe Stadium
Getty Images

It's a one-match sponsorship deal often referred to as opponent marketing. You see, Vinci, ranked 65th in the world, is playing Venus Williams. Dabul, ranked 96th, is playing Roger Federer. Even if both lose, as expected, Westin gets tremendous television exposure and big bang for their buck.

It's one of the many things Starwood's Westin brand is doing to further connect its property — whose motto just happens to be "Westin serves you better" — to tennis fans.

Earlier this year, Westin inked a deal to become the official hotel and resort of the US Open, but striking the deal wasn't enough.

The company hired New York-based Leverage Agency to help handle activation — including putting patches on players, Westin hats on coaches, bringing players up to suites to meet its most important clients and arranging gift bags.

But it was equally about the customers. US Open sponsors typically have a sponsor night, but the giveaways usually don't rate too high on the buzz factor. Westin's play will. On Sept. 7, they are giving away two of their trademark Heavenly Beds.

Westin has also allowed those who have racked up points at its parent company hotels to get in on the action. Starwood Preferred Guests could bid for unique experiences like having a chance to hit with James Blake or sit in the brand's suite.

On one night, Westin will partner with American Express , also a US Open sponsor, to throw an invitation-only party for the people who use the American Express/Starwood Preferred Guest co-branded card.

Too many sponsors these days give a check to become the official partner of some event. They don't go above and beyond to make sure that they maximize that investment. That's why the public is sometimes confused when pressed to ask the official sponsor of an event. With Westin's investment this year, there won't be any doubt as to who the official hotel and resort partner is, especially if there's an upset in Arthur Ashe Stadium tonight.

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