Five years since launch, Sydney-based hotel company Skye Suites is punching above its weight as a lifestyle destination in a highly competitive market dominated by major global players.
Despite having just three Sydney properties to date, the hotel brand is recognisable at a national and global level thanks in no small part to the reality TV partnerships that have propelled the brand to a generation of young people.
For the last three years, Skye Suites Sydney has served as the host hotel for the hugely popular Australian reality TV show Married at First Sight (MAFS), which brings in an average of 1.9 million viewers per episode.
Its Green Square property also recently played host for two seasons of Beauty and the Geek, a challenge-based reality show, presented by Sophie Monk.
Speaking exclusively to HM, Skye Suites Area Director of Sales and Marketing, Ari Foo, said this medium has given the small, domestic business a significant leg up in terms of branding.
“From a marketing perspective, we are competing against bigger chain hotels with much bigger brand presence and marketing budgets,” he said.
“These partnerships drive brand recognition and put us front of mind for people looking at accommodation options in Sydney.”
Reality TV has proven to be a powerful brand-building tool for Skye Suites, not only because it showcases its buildings and rooms, but because audiences have subtle reminders of the brand name and logo, which is shown on screen 2-4 times per episode.
“It’s about getting the brand in front of people but not in a forceful way,” Foo explained.
“We can do social media advertising, and advertise in magazines, but there’s very few mediums where you’re going to get 1.9 million people watching.”
The lifestyle guest
With 15 seasons under its belt, Married at First Sight is undoubtedly a brand powerhouse in its own right, recognisable particularly among – but not limited to – a Millennial and Gen Z audience.
“When I see our travel industry partners, clients and meet people in general, the first thing they say to me when I mention Skye Suites is ‘the MAFS hotel,’” Foo told HM.
“That alone shows the immense impact the show has had on our brand recognition.”
Skye Suites Head of Hotels Australasia, David Bowen, said that this particular reality TV partnership has driven a lot of demand in the CBD hotel and aligns with the company’s strategy to become a recognisable lifestyle brand.
“Skye Suites is really targeted as a lifestyle brand – these shows put you into that space,” he told HM.
“Our whole strategy is to create a lifestyle brand that attracts young, up-and-coming [consumers] but also attracts older guests – MAFS reaches a wide audience.”
Benefits of boutique
The brand’s boutique offering and focus on architecture make it an appealing destination for TV and movie producers, according to the executives.
The Kent Street, Sydney property’s exterior of brick, steel and glass arches serves as an adequately dramatic backdrop for the theatrics that unfold within on Married at First Sight, while the Green Square building provides unique filming opportunities.
During the Season 2 finale of Beauty and the Geek, contestants abseiled several hundred feet down the building, landing into the hotel pool below – an activity that showcased the property’s unique design and strengthened the association between the wider Infinity by Crown building and Skye Suites Green Square.
Being a smaller boutique brand is another advantage for the business when it comes to winning TV partnerships, Foo explains.
“There’s an appeal for production companies because we can contain [filming] quite easily,” he said.
“We tend to isolate filming to a floor or two as they often want to operate as a closed set to some degree. Because of our boutique size, we have the ability to deliver something that they can’t necessarily get in bigger properties. It’s an element of privacy, a bit more security.”
Skye Suites’ Green Square property’s proximity to Fox Studios also makes it an appealing destination for production teams.
During the pandemic, when many major international productions relocated to Australia, Skye Suites Green Square hosted crew members working on major productions including one of the hugely popular Marvel movies.
Having opened the hotel in April 2020, right at the onset of COVID, Foo said the team was laser focused on tapping into this opportunity to offset losses when travel came to a grinding halt.
“When we opened Green Square, we purposely scouted the entertainment market because we saw that Fox Studios and Carriageworks were both close by – there is a lot of movie production in that area,” he said.
Bowen admits, however, that welcoming a reality TV cast and crew into a hotel for an extended period of time does present some challenges, pointing to the huge effort that goes into set up and pack down.
“It is a significant load on the hotel,” he said.
“Interiors are brought in to make it more homely – the beds the furniture etc. is all bought externally – so we close those doors for a couple of weeks to set them up, and then when they leave, they are closed for a couple of weeks to break it all down and bring it back to scope.”