HOUSTON—A hotel stay is more than what’s inside its doors; it’s what’s beyond the walls: the city, its attractions and its culture. The Royal Sonesta Houston Galleria is letting guests enjoy all the property has to offer, but is giving them the chance to pair it with an experience beyond the Sonesta brand.
The “Pick Your Passion Houston Experience” package gives guests overnight accommodations for two, complimentary self-parking and a food and beverage credit—but it also lets them customize their stay with two free passes to enjoy curated city experiences.
“Many guests seek out the culture, sights, food and drinks unique to the region they’re visiting,” said Peter Ells, GM, Royal Sonesta Houston. “Houston is a great city to visit, and Royal Sonesta Houston wanted to provide options for guests to get a better picture of the many things the Bayou City has to offer. The ‘Pick Your Passion’ experiences are designed to make that easy.”
Through its relationship with Visit Houston, the Royal Sonesta has formed partnerships with vendors and attractions, creating a way to integrate booking channels for guests, while also opening up a variety of experiences for all kinds of passions.
“Each passion represents a different part of what Houston is known for: its history, museums, ties to NASA and the growing craft-brew culture at a variety of award-winning microbreweries, such as Saint Arnold, Karbach and 8th Wonder,” Ells said.
“These experiences represent a variety of passions our guests may have,” he added. “Some want to learn about the diverse history of Houston, some are interested in the role the city played as home to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, and some enjoy craft beer and want to discover the thriving microbrew industry. Others enjoy visiting museums, something we have in abundance.”
According to the GM, experiences include Houston City Tours where travelers can visit historic highlights and places of cultural impact in Houston via a hop-on, hop-off sightseeing tour by double-decker bus and listen to audio and live commentary passing by Market Square, Downtown Aquarium and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
For the adventurous guest, there’s the Space Center Houston experience, which includes a behind-the-scenes look at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, a vital part in early space exploration.
“The Space Center Houston experience is popular because of the role the city played in the Apollo flights to the moon in the 1960s and their role in popular Hollywood films. But we’ve seen a mix of guests taking advantage of all the passes depending on what best suits their interest and those of their families,” Ells said.
With the diversity of these experiences, both business and leisure travelers can find something that suits their unique interests but also availability, especially with one-day passes.
The one-Day Houston Museum Pass gives guests access to the Museum District, including the Houston Museum of Natural Science, Children’s Museum of Houston and the Houston Fire Museum, popular among families, Ells said.
For kids-free travelers, with the one-Day Houston Brew Pass, guests can see four from a choice of 14 microbreweries.
“Houston is going through a renaissance of arts, culture and food, in addition to global recognition as one of the most diverse cities in the world,” Ells said. “It’s founded on the thriving energy and technology sectors, is the birthplace for space exploration, and provides innovative healthcare at the largest medical center in the world. This draws millions of visitors a year looking to get a taste of what makes Houston a great city in the time they spend here.”
Ells recognized that hotel promotions are nothing new, but in recent years have been tweaked to maximize a stay and what the guest gets out of a trip.
But what makes “Pick Your Passion” unique isn’t that guests can simply go to attractions outside of the hotel’s walls, but how it lets guests experience the city.
“Other than the ease, price point and popularity of the attraction, it allows freedom of movement,” Ells said. “Guests who purchase the Houston City Tour experience can get off the bus and explore an attraction that captures their attention, then get back on at several conveniently located stops along the route. Same for the One-Day Houston Brew Pass and One-Day Houston Museum Pass—guests have their choice of which microbreweries or museums to visit over a 24-hour period, not being locked in to a set itinerary, which can feel stifling.”
Ells said that if the promotion sets out on what it aims to do, and gives the guests a better experience, extends their memory of the city and makes them want to visit the hotel in the future, the property will likely continue the offer.
“We encourage all Royal Sonesta Houston guests to take in the sights and sounds of Houston,” Ells said. “But, most of all, we hope they pursue their passions while staying with us and get a better idea of why Bayou City is such a great place to visit.” HB