Hotels and Hollywood: Lessons learned from location shoots

Hotels and Hollywood: Lessons learned from location shoots

From “Some Like it Hot” to “Somewhere in Time,” hotels have played a part in movie magic throughout Hollywood history. This year saw star turns for two hotels in the Trump Hotel Collection: Trump International Hotel & Tower New York in “Tower Heist” and our Chicago hotel in the third Transformers’ flick, “Dark Side of the Moon.” While we give the overall experience a positive review (and the publicity boon to both hotels has been considerable), a great deal of effort was required during production to keep disruptions to a minimum and guest satisfaction high.  

With THC’s own recent movie debuts in mind, I’ve gathered a few tips for other hoteliers to consider when Hollywood comes calling:

Know what you’re getting into. Before you sign any agreement, meet with key contacts at the production company. Make sure you fully understand all the activities that will be taking place at your hotel throughout the shoot. If it’s an action movie, will there be simulated explosions? Production helicopters hovering close to the building? Stunt people base-jumping off the top of the building? 

Carefully weigh the pros and cons. Will the excitement for guests of seeing filming in action and being part of a movie backlot offset any possible disruption? Can production be kept to a certain area of the hotel to minimize guest impact? Consider the consequences of a film crew of 75 to 100 or more on and off your property for a month. Do you have the manpower and resources to supervise their activities?

Set the ground rules. Once you determine what activities you will allow the production office to film at the hotel, make sure the agreement sets clear guidelines concerning areas of use and specific times the crew will have access to particular areas of the property. Outside of filming, keep the lobby off-limits to extras and crew, for instance. Also, make it clear that all garbage must be removed by the crew, and no entrances can be completely blocked.

Meet daily. Designate a point person at the hotel to liaise with the movie production office on a daily basis to ensure that you know precisely what that day’s shoot entails. Have that point person keep department managers in the loop so they know how to plan their day and keep their own teams informed.

Prepare your guests. If any scenes involve loud noises or other disruptive activities, send all guests a letter from management the evening before so they know what to expect. Also inform your service staff in advance and coach them on how to communicate and work with guests. And finally, have a contingency plan in place for any guest complaints so that you can offer a suitable solution expediently.

Make the most of your red carpet moment. Clearly, the big screen gives your hotel great exposure. But don’t let it end there — social media, in particular, provides great opportunities for leveraging your moment in the spotlight. For instance, in the weeks leading up the opening of “Tower Heist” this month, we collaborated with the studio to create a Trump Tower Heist Sweepstakes on my Facebook page that offered a two-night hotel stay with airfare, tickets to the star-studded premiere and more. The sweepstakes reaped 1,800 entries, the majority of which have converted into new “likes.” 

More than anything else, communication is the key to managing the demands of a movie shoot and will show your hotel in the best possible light — not only to moviegoers who eventually see the film, but also to the guests who are staying with you during production. It’s not an easy task, but with an informed hotelier and cooperative crew, the results can be well worth it. Popcorn, anyone?