- Taco Bell will open a hotel and resort in Palm Springs, California, later this summer, the company announced in a news release.
- The Bell Hotel, which opens its doors on Aug. 9 for a limited time, features guest rooms; a pool with themed activities and sauce packet floaties; a salon offering nail art, fades and a braiding station inspired by Taco Bell; and a gift shop selling exclusive branded apparel. Dining options include new menu items that are also limited to the hotel.
- Those interested in booking a room at the so-called "tacoasis" can begin making their reservations in June at the Yum Brands chain's website, where they can sign up now for email alerts to find out when reservations go live. Taco Bell will also update social media followers on its Instagram and Twitter channels. The experience is intended to be for consumers 18 and older, the company said.
Taco Bell's hotel builds on the brand's experiential marketing strategy, which has evolved in recent years to include some ambitious activations, such as special Cantina locations that offer full-fledged wedding services. This isn't the fast-food chain's first dip into the hospitality space, either. Its Canadian arm converted a restaurant location into a temporary Airbnb rental three years ago to promote a new menu item and provide dedicated fans with a "steakcation" — a riff on taking a "staycation."
But The Bell represents a considerable expansion of the hospitality marketing conceit, acting as a full hotel package with a variety of on-brand activities and services that aren't available elsewhere.
"The Bell stands to be the biggest expression of the Taco Bell lifestyle to date," Marisa Thalberg, global chief brand officer, said in a statement.
The hotel stunt combines a few different marketing tactics that tend to resonate with millennials — a key audience for Taco Bell — with a focus on experiences, travel and offering exclusive apparel and dining options. Taco Bell, along with fellow Yum Brands restaurants like KFC, has helped drive a trend of brands launching online stores that sell often limited-edition merchandise, including clothing. Taco Bell also previously partnered with the fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 on a capsule collection that was sold in stores.
Taco Bell has generally been a strong performer for parent company Yum Brands, reporting 6% growth in worldwide system sales for 2018, per year-end results released in February. However, the chain's same-store sales grew 4% for Q1 2019, missing analyst expectations of 4.47% growth, CNBC reported earlier this month.
Along with marketing stunts like The Bell, Taco Bell has ramped up efforts to cater to younger consumers elsewhere, including through a bigger mobile ordering and delivery business. Taco Bell realigned its leadership team in early 2018 to accelerate growth in e-commerce and the development of digital tools like in-store kiosks and delivery platforms. Thalberg's role changed from chief marketing officer to chief brand officer at the time to reflect more eclectic duties around e-commerce, events and crafting a consistent global marketing strategy.