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While many hotels brands are delivering destination content on their websites, Rosewood Hotels is leveraging its celebrity partners' cachet to differentiate the brand.

When Rosewood Hotels launched its Rosewood Curators program in September last year, it set a new standard for content marketing and brand communications in the hospitality industry.

Rosewood partnered with celebrities and cultural influencers such as former Secretary of State Condeleeza Rica, CNN’s Piers Morgan, and award-winning Hong Kong film director Johnny To. Each of them provided answers for a Q&A detailing their favorite things to see and do in destinations where Rosewood operates.

This summer, three more Curators were added, including tennis ace Maria Sharapova who discussed Mexico’s Riviera Maya, and three more are scheduled to join the ranks possibly as soon as the end of September.

We sat down with Brett Perkins, corporate director of communications at Rosewood Hotels, during Virtuoso Travel Week this month [click link for our story]. He told us that Rosewood is developing videos with the celebrities and new cross-platform content integrated with their various social media. Videos for New York and Dallas are likely scheduled to launch first.

“The Rosewood Curators program is really designed to illustrate Rosewood Hotels’ Sense of Place branding, and curate the destinations, not the hotels themselves,” says Perkins. “One of the things we wanted to promote when we launched the new website last year was not just hotel rooms and rates, but make it so that people could use it as a bit of a travel resource.”

He adds that the new site is driving increased business to Rosewood Hotels. Website traffic for the first six months of 2014 is up over 30% for the same period in 2013, and the Curator pages have topped 200,000 views. Year-over-year direct bookings are up 16%, and “the average daily rate of these bookings has also risen considerably.”

When asked why the celebrities agree to participate, Perkins says Rosewood donates to their charities of choice. Some of them, such as fashion icon and Project Runway regular Nina Garcia, also like to have a little fun with the collaboration and promote certain events. For example, Rosewood posted some of Garcia’s fashion show photos on its Facebook page.

We would love to see more of that insider perspective and content collaboration from more of the participating celebrities.

The names of the new batch of celebs haven’t been released yet. They’re coming on board for new hotels like Rosewood Beijing opening mid-October. They’ll also replace some of the earliest content and add second narratives for a few of the larger cities.

For example, Piers Morgan and auctioneer Simon de Pury provide a different lens on the London scene. Morgan, who leans a little toward the foppish, likes a nice “glass of Montrachet in the sunshine” while watching cricket at Lord’s. De Pury suggests an early morning stroll through Hyde Park ending with a cappuccino in Notting Hill.

Some of the destination content is more thorough than others. Former Metropolitan Opera singer John Bills gives a comprehensive overview of artsy San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. Meanwhile, Grammy-winning singer Sarah McLachlan highlights Vancouver’s more obvious tourist sites that you could just as easily find at Frommer’s.

The personal slant of the Q&A segments are refreshing and engaging. When model India Hicks is asked about her favorite romantic island moment in Nassau, she answers: “Kissing David, the father of my children, under a full moon, on the steps of Government House, where I was staying with my mother. I was 17 years old at the time. We did not see each other for another 10 years.”

That depth of detail extends into the Sense of Place destination features, presently profiling only Abu Dhabi, Mexico, New York and most recently Beijing. There should be more. These are exquisite little travel magazines with a nifty user interface that flow down one long-scroll page.

Rosewood Hotels also launched its Sense of Taste series of culinary journeys this summer at select properties, offering customized tours and tastings with local food suppliers. Sample itineraries include an early morning boat trip with the resort chefs at Jumby Bay in Antigua to a local farmer’s market, and blending wine with area vintners at Rosewood CordeValle in Santa Cruz, California.

Those little culinary vignettes on the participating hotel websites also make for spirited reading, extending time on site for each.

This type of content marketing is common today, and Perkins acknowledges that many hospitality companies are now on the destination content bandwagon. He says the differentiators for Rosewood, aside from the celebrities themselves, revolve around keeping things fresh and sophisticated, yet lively, and integrating more diverse content across platforms.

“Rosewood Hotels was one of the first to develop that type of content, which is why we were able to trademark ‘A Sense of Place,’ as you can see in our logo,” explains Perkins. “We look at it in big and small ways to deliver on that. It might be Woody Allen performing with the Eddy Davis jazz band at The Carlyle in Manhattan, or a local menu created by Nicole Ammerman and Susan Curtis in Santa Fe. You know, that local experience is always there at Rosewood Hotels, you can feel it wherever you go.”

Greg Oates covers hotel/tourism development and travel brand media. email/twitter

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Tags: rosewood hotels

Photo credit: Fashion icon Nina Garcia is a Rosewood Curator for New York City. Rosewood Hotels

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