TRENDS: More Room(s) for Experience

fao-schwarz-themed-hotel-suiteDecember 6, 2022 | The holiday season is synonymous with many festive activities: tree trimming, roasting chestnuts by the fire, gift-giving, and watching Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. This year, fans of Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” movie fest can take their fandom one step further and cozy up in a limited-time themed hotel suite at one of three Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties across the U.S.

Last week, FAO Schwarz also unveiled a new partnership with Omni Berkshire Place for an exclusive new holiday hotel package inspired by the iconic New York City toy store’s 160-year history.

These partnerships are part of the enduring and growing trend of screen tourism, which unites the worlds of tourism and entertainment and allows fans to dive deeper into the brands, programming, and celebrities they love. Screen tourism is not new, but it is evolving — and toy brand owners should take note.

“Today’s consumers don’t just want to experience their favorite brands, they want to live and breathe them,” said Adrienne Appell, executive vice president of marketing communications at The Toy Association.

According to David Niggli, chief merchandising officer at ThreeSixty Brands, FAO Schwarz’s exclusive hotel package, which includes a stay in a two-bedroom luxury suite fully stocked with top toys curated by FAO’s personal shoppers and a private tour of the toy store by FAO’s Toy Soldiers, is like a dream for kids.

“It is part of the New York experience and making it come alive,” he said. “For us, we love out-of-the-box collaborations and activations that you might not expect. We’re always looking for great partners like Omni Berkshire and other folks like that to do creative experiences and bring them across the country in different ways.”

Toymakers and brand owners can also reference the following examples for inspiration:

  • Music mogul DJ Khaled is the latest celebrity/brand to partner with Airbnb, offering the chance to spend a two-night stay in the sneaker closet of his Miami abode for just $11. For fans of the Grammy-winning artist and sneakerheads, it’s the opportunity to live in his self-proclaimed “sneaker kingdom.” The collaboration also comes as part of the build-up to Khaled’s upcoming We The Best Air Jordan 5 collection drop.
  • gave fans of “Sex & the City”/”And Just Like That” the chance to embark on a two-night getaway to Sarah Jessica Parker’s Hamptons Hideaway.
  • Other recent Airbnb stays featuring entertainment brands have included a getaway in a Hocus Pocus-esque Sanderson Sisters house, in the Scooby Doo Mystery Van along the California coast, and in a real-life replica of the Heeler House to live like Bluey.

“As consumers put more value in the brands that offer authentic connections, these unique partnerships with hospitality leaders aren’t just creating the perfect immersive getaways for fans, but they also can serve as critical marketing tools to build hype for upcoming product launches and build brand loyalty,” Appell added.

This report is the first in a new Toy News Tuesday series that will explore trends across other industries and how they can serve as brand-building tools for the toy industry. For more Toy Association trend coverage and information, visit