With over 215 hotels and resorts in 43 countries, the people at Hyatt know a thing or two about the hotel industry. They have recently been busy acquiring London’s Great Eastern Hotel from Conran Holdings and the Blackstone Group for $260 million, but there are also many other hotels in the pipeline from Doha to Cairo.
Breaking Travel News spoke with Allan Edgar, Hyatt’s vice president for marketing on why the Hyatt brand is now trying to appeal to Generation X - the twenty and thirty-somethings.
BTN: What is your business being fuelled by now?
Edgar: In gateway cities we are heavily biased towards the business traveller and this is supported by a strong upscale leisure segment. A substantial component of business travel is now for incentives and meetings. Business travel patterns have also become more regional over the years. One particular country no longer dominates the geographical origin of our guest.
The average age of today’s traveller has dropped reflecting the fact that executives reach responsible positions much earlier than they did twenty years ago and hotels have had to realign themselves to meet this change.
BTN: What is happening with the Hyatt Place brand, which is aimed at this younger demographic?
Edgar: Hyatt Place is in the process of being completely repositioned, renovated and re-branded. The first hotel will open in the U.S. state of Illinois this June. Plans are being finalised to develop both Hyatt Place and Hyatt Somerfield Suites in the international arena, with the proviso that the product will be adapted to specific markets.
BTN: What have you been doing to attract Generation X to your hotels? i.e. customers in their twenties and thirties?
Edgar: The interior design and services have for some time reflected the change in demographics. There is a cutting edge feel to the interiors in terms of bedroom layout and room technology. Also the service has become more relaxed to reflect the changing guest profile. Remember it is not only our customers who are Generation X, but also our employees.
BTN: Is the Middle East a big growth area for you and why?
Edgar: The region has always been an important part of Hyatt’s development plans and we have taken great care to expand in locations that fit our global strategy. The Grand Hyatt Doha and Park Hyatt Cairo will become key players.
BTN: Your Amman hotel in Jordan was targeted by bombers back in November. At what stage are we at now with the hotel?
Edgar: The safety and well being of our employees and guests is important to Hyatt. After the tragic event, the company and local management teams invested a lot of effort to support our colleagues and guests. It is a compliment to our loyal colleagues that the hotel has returned to normal and the level of business is slowly returning.
BTN: Which regions and countries are growth areas for you?
Edgar: At present we have a substantial development program in both India and China. Within the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions we currently have eleven hotels under development. Restructuring the company has given Hyatt both the capitalisation and flexibility to take advantage of new opportunities.
BTN: You came up with some innovative new advertisements—“Not your typical hotel story,” and “the Hyatt Touch.” What do they represent?
Edgar: Hyatt is not your normal hotel experience. Each hotel has a different feel related to its global location and client base yet the experience of customer satisfaction is the same. It is not one single thing that provides the “Hyatt Touch” but a cluster of experiences that jog your senses and remain in your memory.
BTN: Strategies for Hyatt in 2006 and beyond, what can we expect?
Edgar: Traditionally Hyatt as has been perceived as a niche, exclusive luxury chain and whilst wishing to maintain this image, our goal is to widen our market reach and make it as broad as possible.