Hilton Locks Deal as Live Nation's New Official Hotel

Associated Press

As part of the new agreement, 42 million HHonors guest-program members will gain access to exclusive hotel events, concerts and experiences.

Hilton Worldwide will become the official hotel partner of Live Nation as part of a wide-ranging, five-year commitment, the companies are expected to announce on Tuesday. Live Nation previously partnered with Starwood Hotel Group for the last six years, which included a global concert series called "SPG: Hear the Music, See the World" that featured performances from Imagine Dragons, Jamie Cullum, OneRepublic and Gavin DeGraw.

As part of the new agreement, Hilton's 42 million HHonors guest-program members will gain access to exclusive hotel events, concerts and experiences through redemption of those points. Paramore will kick off a global series of musical events at Hilton hotels with a concert in New York on Feb. 23. Hilton hotels will also be promoted via Live Nation's digital properties, including LiveNation.com and Ticketmaster.com, with Hilton rooms suggested under "Where to Stay" booking links in each concert's nearest city. Artists who perform at Live Nation venues will be offered reduced rates for Hilton hotels, as will Live Nation executives.

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 live-streamed 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 percent increase from the same period in 2013. In addition to Hilton, other official partners of Live Nation include UPS, Anheuser Busch, Hertz and Citi.

This story first appeared on Billboard.com.

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