Le Saint-Sulpice’s suite stories

The indie Montreal hotel opens the book on its art-inspired marketing focus, with a novel branded content push.

Le Saint-Sulpice Hôtel Montréal is releasing a new literary collection, the latest cultural project the hotel has produced to draw in an arts-loving clientele.

Le Saint-Sulpice is a small, independently-owned hotel so, instead of pursuing the same media buys and promotion that chains do, it has been promoting itself through a series of arts and culture projects under the “Indulge Your Imagination” platform.

“I think it will reinforce to our clientele that they can come back and know [the experience of staying at the hotel will] not quite be the same,” says Karin Janssen, marketing manager at Le Saint-Sulpice Hôtel Montréal, of doing a new project every year. “It’s also a way to show the guests Quebec culture and give them the chance to experience what Montreal has to offer. Travel agents don’t just sell a night anymore, they sell an experience. So it’s a way to make the experience different.”

The first project came in 2012 as a celebration of Le Saint-Sulpice’s 10th anniversary, with La Valise, a short film based around four different characters that check into the hotel. In May this year, Montreal-based artist Jean-Claude Poitras contributed 11 paintings to Body & Soul, a permanent exhibition with work on every floor of the hotel.

Since coming up with the idea for its most recent project two years ago, the hotel has reached out to writers, giving them the ability to stay in one of its suites in the hopes it will spark inspiration. Now, 14 of those pieces have been compiled into a book titled Suite Stories and will be available for purchase starting in November.

Suite Stories features everything from detective and romance stories to poetry and historical fiction. The contributors include writers from Quebec (Chrystine Brouillet, Governor General’s Award winner Kim Thúy), the rest of Canada (CS Richardson, recent Toronto Book Award short-lister Anthony De Sa) and across the globe (Alain Mabanckou, Steven Raichlen).

The book will available for purchase at the hotel, with proceeds going to the Literacy Foundation. In addition, Le Saint-Sulpice has compiled a small reading library for its guests based on recommendations from the authors featured in the collection.

The book will be promoted at a launch event in November. Much like what the hotel did for its short film, Le Saint-Sulpice will invite the media and the public to the event, encourage critics to review it and pursue all of the honours and literary awards Suite Stories is eligible for. For La Valise, the hotel entered it into film festivals, aired teasers on television and before screenings in Montreal theatres and put up posters around the city. In 2013, the film won Gold at the Grand Prix due Tourisme Québécois and the grand prize at the Worldwide Hospitality Awards.

Janssen says the majority of the hotel’s marketing budget does go towards more conventional media and promotional tools, like websites and newsletter blasts, but the big pushes have been centred around these projects. Aside from working with Kayak to help promote the film, the hotel does all the promotional work on the projects itself, which Janssen says have been a major way visitors and travel agents have come to discover the hotel, and at a relatively small cost. She adds that the hotel’s clientele tends to skew to an over-40 crowd that has the extra income required to travel and might be more inclined to take in some art or cultural events on a trip, but the “Indulge Your Imagination” projects also gives the independent hotel an appeal to artists themselves.

“This is something that is more about the reputation of the hotel,” she says. “We want to be a kind of cultural centre where art production and showcase happens so we can show that we are a friend of the culture world.”