At Aloft Hotels, Emerging Artists Reach for the Stars

NEW YORK—Ed McMahon, host of a popular talent showcase that aired on TV in the 1980s, once said, “shoot for the stars, even if you miss, you’ll be among the stars.” During the TV show’s 12-year run, vocalists, models and dancers vied for the opportunity to be discovered and a shot at stardom.

As today’s travelers crave memorable experiences and Instagram-worthy moments to give people to talk about, Aloft Hotels is at the forefront with an artist discovery program of their own—Project: Aloft Star. Alongside it is the brand’s first-ever Project: Aloft Star Tour, a five-city tour celebrating Universal Music Group’s emerging artists.

“Research shows that the next generation of travelers are more interested in experiences than in physical possessions, and so at Aloft, we design our hotels to speak to this trend—activating our public spaces to be not just a lobby, a bar or a check-in desk, but also a music venue,” said Toni Stoeckl, global brand leader and VP of distinctive select at Marriott International. “Universal Music Group (UMG) and Marriott International first started working together a number of years ago and the global partnership has come to life through concerts at multiple Marriott International brands and properties across the globe. It made sense to leverage this partnership to elevate the great work Aloft has been doing since its inception to support emerging artists by bringing them on board this year to work with us on Project: Aloft Star. Our collaboration with UMG this year means that becoming a big music star is now within anyone’s reach.”

At Aloft is a driving force behind its many offerings, which are curated for music lovers and music makers. Worldwide, Aloft properties host regular live music evenings in the brand’s signature W XYZ bars with local up-and-coming talent as part of the brand’s Live At Aloft Hotels music program. Music is a core part of its DNA.

“With this year’s Project: Aloft Star competition and tour, we wanted to build on our legacy of supporting emerging artists by offering a truly once-in-a-lifetime prize to aspiring artists, as well as bring amazing music experiences to guests and locals,” said Stoeckl. “We also wanted to provide something really special for our Marriott Rewards and SPG members—people who are part of these programs will get to experience Project: Aloft Star unlike anyone else, with special VIP perks such as meet-and-greets with the artists.”

What makes this initiative stand out from other talent competitions is its global nature and the opportunity for the winner to jumpstart their career with Universal Music Group. But wait, there’s more … The winner also will receive 500,000 loyalty points redeemable for stays at Marriott International properties. Talk about hitting the road in style and comfort. “For artists starting out in the industry, this will be a real game-changer when they start to spend a lot of their time on the road,” said Stoeckl.

For emerging artists, mentors can play an important role in providing support and fostering an environment of success. Through the partnership, Aloft Hotels and UMG were able to identify the ideal mentors for this year’s collection of talent.

“When selecting a mentor, working with UMG, we wanted to find a talented individual or group that knew their way around the business but are not far removed from the everyday struggles an emerging artist encounters,” he said. “With this criteria in mind, X Ambassadors were the perfect choice for the role. They have massive songs and sold-out shows, but they still see themselves as growing and ever-evolving. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re warm and outgoing people who want to make a positive impact on these finalists’ careers. We are confident they will make great mentors this year and contribute to the further success of this program.”

Budding with talent, Stoeckl describes the emerging artists on tour as coming from a variety of backgrounds and genres. They are also in various stages of development. “Some artists on the tour are more emerging; they’re building buzz, have a following, and are on their way up. Some of the chosen artists, especially the mentors, have broken through the noise, have a dedicated fan base, and are selling out tour stops,” he said.

With this program, Stoeckl sees travelers becoming exposed to hot, new talent as the tour hits stops in music cities in North and Central America for intimate music performances in the brand’s W XYZ bars. But don’t forget: membership has its privileges.

“As with all our music performances in our W XYZ bars, these performances are totally free and open to everybody,” he said. “However, the best way to experience the tour is as a Marriott Rewards or Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty member, which gives you the opportunity to skip the line at events, attend meet-and-greets with the artists and bid for VIP destination packages for the tour stops.”