Hyatt is making its first outreach to female travelers as part of a broader behavioral shift in how the hotel operator views marketing.
While the new campaign has traditional, targeted media, a major element is an ongoing, real-time dialogue with guests via Branch, Facebook and Twitter.
“When we started testing ads in focus groups, women said they loved that we were listening to them. So, we think our work is actually just beginning by having conversations,” said John Wallis, Hyatt's global head of marketing and brand strategy. “It’s about having more brand awareness than advertising.”
Hyatt described the new approach as a "Listening Loop." It began with primary research and online feedback and even extended to intercepting women in hotel lobbies to ask about their travel needs and whether they're being met.
The answers were frank: Robes and slippers are too big; hair dryers go off before your hair is dry; hotel shampoo is awful. Also, food on the menu is too fattening and it would be great to have access to yoga mats and electronics chargers.
“Hotels have been created by men for men. Women deserve a completely different customer experience than men,” Wallis said.
What's more, some 37 percent of Hyatt’s customers are women and they make 82 percent of all travel decisions, according to Wallis.
“A lot of traditional brands view social as connecting with consumers and those brands are pushing a message out to them,” addd Dan Moriarty, Hyatt's director of digital strategy. “But we’ve devised our whole social strategy around the idea that rather than just push out [messages], we’re opening the lines of communication.”
Hyatt is one of the first major corporate marketers to use Branch, which is about a year old and works like an extended Twitter account, allowing more characters with which to communicate. Through Branch, Hyatt asked what three things hotels can do better.
Rather than just add new amenities, the hotel chain will continue to solicit feedback from travelers. In the final stage of the Listening Loop, the company is creating a digital mock-up of an updated hotel room based on consumer suggestions. Guests will have the opportunity to tour and rate the prototype in advance to Hyatt’s real-world rollout in one of its lab hotels.
This fall Hyatt will restart the Listening Loop process, this time targeting a different customer segment. In the meantime, Hyatt is running new ads from BBDO that target women. The media strategy, from PHD, emphasizes digital and mobile.