Jim Holthouser, executive vice president of global brands for Hilton Worldwide, says the Live Nation partnership will illuminate the company's "Hilton at Play" global tagline, which attempts to position Hilton's 4,250 hotels as escape destinations for the overworked professional. "People work more than they ever have before," Holthouser says, "and Live Nation hosts some 23,000 live events a year, so we felt this was a natural way to work in lock-step together to provide great entertainment experiences around the world."
Hilton has a history of working with the music and entertainment industry, from its longtime sponsorship of the Grammy Awards and Golden Globes (the latter of which is held at the Beverly Hilton) to its 2014 partnership with Spin Media to host the Hilton Times Square's first livestreamed concert featuring Mikky Ekko.
Hilton will also serve as the official hotel sponsor for 75 different Live Nation owned-and-operated venues, including the company's House of Blues franchise, which will allow hotel guests to purchase access to meet-and-greet and soundcheck experiences. Hilton will also be able to share content from those events on its social media profiles.
"While we have had a really great relationship with Starwood for the past six years, we felt that if we were ever going to make a change, this was that moment in time," says Russell Wallach, Live Nation's president of media and sponsorship. "In terms of Hilton's interest in putting music front and center from a marketing standpoint, we love their scale. They're growing like crazy internationally, as we are, and we were blown away by the fact they had 40-plus million members of their loyalty program. They'll be putting a lot of marketing assets forward to help market our artists, from tours to music."
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but sponsorships and advertising has become a growing source of incremental revenue for Live Nation over the last five years. In the first three quarters of 2014 alone, the category accounted for $230.9 million in revenue, a 4% increase from the same period in 2013. In addition to Hilton, other official partners of Live Nation include UPS, Anheuser Busch, Hertz and Citi.