Big Brand Theory: Hyatt Regency Uses Social to Evolve the Customer Experience
Hyatt Hotels is one of the best known and largest hotel organizations in the world. Founded in 1957 by Jay Pritzker, the organization now has more than 600 properties across 52 nations, employing over 75,000 people worldwide. Hyatt Regency is a division of the wider Hyatt brand and is more focused on interaction and being a “go-to gathering space for every occasion – from quick coffee dates to shared culinary experiences to meetings and special events”, as opposed to the more general Hyatt Hotels approach. In itself, Hyatt Regency has more than 150 locations, but that alternate focus, looking a little differently at the hotel experience, means Hyatt Regency’s approach to marketing is also a little different, a little more experimental, and this is particularly true in the social space, where the brand is looking to reach a different type of hotel patron than the general Hyatt customer.
To get an insight into this, I recently spoke with Dan Moriarty, the Director of Social Strategy and Activation for Hyatt. Dan outlined the approach being implemented at Hyatt Regency, how they’ve gone about ralizing their ideas, and how they’re using new social platforms, like Snapchat, to reach new audiences.
While it's incorporated into the wider Hyatt brand, Hyatt Regency has it's own, dedicated social presence - though it's notably smaller than the company's main brand pages. For example, Hyatt’s main Twitter handle (@HyattTweets) has more than 53k followers, while Hyatt Regency (@HyattRegency) has 7.4k. While the Hyatt Regency brand, in itself, has been around for some time, it has its own focus which differs from their better known presence – I asked Moriarty about that approach and whether there’s a core mission or focus the Hyatt Regency team aspires to in their social interactions.
“For Hyatt Regency’s social approach, we’re really focused on bringing to life an insight we heard from travelers: 'sometimes, it’s good not to be home',” Moriarty said. “This drives everything - from content about why it’s good not to be home to on-property social activations that make it even better not to be home. It even applies to adding filters to our guests’ Snapchats.”
The ‘It’s Good Not to Be Home’ campaign is one of the largest in Hyatt Regency’s history and seeks to celebrate the ways in which the brand helps its guests make the most of being away. As noted in the company’s press release on the campaign: “This goes against the assumption that guests are always looking for a home away from home while travelling” - and that, in itself, provides some interesting content opportunities.
Given the fresh focus of the ‘It’s Good Not to Be Home’ campaign, and even Hyatt Regency more generally, I asked Morarity what social platforms he sees as their main focus in getting the message out and connecting with their target audience.
“As a brand, we’re doing a lot on Twitter and Instagram,” Moriarty told me. “We’re also testing Snapchat to see if it’s a good fit for the brand’s target customers.”
And while it may seem a little out of place, Snapchat actually makes perfect sense - Moriarty explained.
“We’ve been watching the growth and evolution of Snapchat over the last couple of years with interest,” Moriarty said. “We’ve been looking for an opportunity to test it, and with the Hyatt Regency brand’s focus on making it good not to be home, we felt that the geo-filter was a great fit here. With these, we’re able to take an existing social behavior – snapping while at a Hyatt Regency hotel – and make it that little bit better thanks to the different geo-filters for each day of the week that our guests can overlay on their images.”
Hyatt Regency is actually the first hotel brand to launch branded Snapchat filters at scale, with a different filter available for every day of the week across Hyatt Regency hotels in the US and Canada. The campaign, which launched on October 15, will run for 90 days, coming to an end in mid-January. Early results have shown that Friday through Sunday are the most popular days, which would suggest that leisure guests are using the filters more often than business travellers.
Given the use of Snapchat, I was particularly interested in what metrics Hyatt was focused on and what numbers Moriarty saw as important in measuring their social media success.
“At Hyatt, we look at social as ‘social business’ rather than ‘social media’,” Moriarty told me. “As such, we look at a ton of different numbers, depending upon our business objective - it’s about more than just traditional above the line advertising.”
This makes perfect sense – as each brand will have a different approach and will see different results via their social efforts, so too should the focus of each campaign be aligned to a specific objective and goal – essentially, this is what Moriarty’s saying, that the focus of each campaign is totally different, so to assign a generic metric target, overall, is flawed, though that may have been possible via more traditional marketing and outreach methods.
This is actually quite an important and relevant point to highlight – every time you’re considering a social marketing plan and activation, you need to also consider the specific objectives and targets of each. And with the abundance of data available via social channels, marketers can now tailor their focus to ensure they use the right numbers to reflect their actual goals, rather than solid metrics that are tacked onto each campaign.
We’re moving to the next stage of social and social data use where we really get down to the crucial elements and start to hone in on the most relevant numbers – and we can do that because we have the data available. As such, we need to widen our thinking about what numbers actually reflect the goals of our campaigns – is it sales you’re looking to achieve? Then you’re looking at CTR, sales and conversion rates. Is it awareness you need to build? Then you’ll be assessing growth, engagement, shares, Likes, etc. Each objective has different measurables and we have more data than ever to track these – it’s now a matter of marketers understanding and assigning the relevant goals and utilizing the data tools they have at hand.
Engagement and Interaction
The last element I wanted to ask Moriarty about was fan interaction and engagement – building relationships with clients is obviously a big part of hotel marketing and Hyatt has received high praise, and even awards, for their various loyalty and customer care initiatives, including the Gold Passport program. I asked Moriarty how Hyatt approaches fan/follower interactions and what part social has played in the success of such programs.
“Hyatt Regency’s one brand among the Hyatt portfolio of brands, and Hyatt, as a company, is heavily invested in social customer service, sharing user-generated content and working with influencers,” Moriarty said. “With regards to social customer service, we use social as a natural extension of our purpose to care for people so they can be their best.”
“Social care helps us build long-term relationships with our guests and make small, meaningful gestures that improve their experiences.”
The Value of Social
In finishing out our conversation, I asked Moriarty to complete this sentence from Hyatt’s perspective – “The true value of social media is _________?
“More in the word social, and less in the word media,” Moriarty responded.
A great answer, and some great insights from a brand that’s moving with the shifts in user behavior and looking to reach their customers on the platforms they’re using. What was clearly evident through all of our discussion was that Moriarty, and by extension, Hyatt Hotels, is passionate about social and the opportunities enabled by the medium. And not in a theoretical or idealistic sense, Hyatt’s approach is based in reality, in seeing how social platforms are being used and how they can be employed to improve the customer experience.
It’s in the ‘social’ element that we see this, in providing a platform and listening to what people have to say. That’s where the true and valuable connections live.
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