They say necessity is the mother of invention, and never has this proverb rang truer for me than in recent months.
Covid is the unprecedented problem to which we’ve all needed to react, and while every sector of commerce has been affected to some degree, I would argue that the hospitality industry has experienced more than our share of disruption.
We’ve had to quickly adapt to meet a new set of immediate business challenges and react to changing traveller priorities and expectations to ensure our short-term financial viability. But at the same time, I have had to start thinking about the future of global hotel design brought about by changing customer patterns in both work and leisure to ensure long term competitive advantage.
While our resort hotels have been busy during the post-lockdown summer season, our city hotels have had to get creative in the ways we generate revenue as our primary product, the guest room, takes a temporary back seat.
The local guest has hence become a primary target, enticing them with attractive deals in our spas, our excellent food and beverage proposition, and bespoke staycation packages including, for example, socially distanced rooftop yoga classes.
Corporate travel remains the challenge, and while we are seeing business travel return to China, we are yet to see that trend roll out in Europe with infection rates on the rise again, travel quarantines continuing to be imposed, and concerns around the safety of crowded commuter travel . The success of the sector therefore rests in no small part on how flexible and innovative hotel owners can be in response to the needs of their local corporate clients.
At Hyatt, I have been hugely impressed by the creative efforts of our colleagues to look for new ways to generate revenue in this way. By responding quickly and confidently we have challenged conventional thinking on how we use our hotels, reimagining spaces and creating an environment for guests to relax and work in, all whilst preserving the guest experience Hyatt is famous for.
Trading home office for hotel suite
In the post-zoom era of COVID, with relaxed social distancing restrictions and a growing sense of webinar fatigue, we are beginning to seek more meaningful interactions with the world outside of our own homes, both socially and professionally.
Many businesses and business travellers are wrestling with how to work and connect in a post-zoom environment: they are wondering if there is an interim, local option for working or convening out of home?
As a result, it made perfect sense to us to introduce a new work space concept during office hours to help our guests reset their work routines: allowing them to choose their personal office space from a variety of well-appointed suites or boardrooms; accessing consistent high-speed internet and the very latest video conferencing facilities; laundry services; access to the gym and spa; free parking; unlimited tea and coffee and discounted food and beverage with the option of in-room dining.
We have given our corporate guests exactly what they asked for: a safe, controlled but luxurious space to work, rest and decompress in. Currently available across the US, India and Asia Pacific, and soon to arrive in Europe, new guest packages provide the comforts of a luxury hotel stay with the amenities of a state-of-the-art office environment.
Our corporate clients and customers also told us that there is still a desire to bring colleagues together to collaborate, share ideas or simply let off steam. The problem is that many businesses simply don’t know how to achieve this in the current climate and in a post-Zoom era there is a growing sense of virtual meetings fatigue.
In direct response to this we have launched our Hy-Brid meetings concept, reimagining what meetings might look like moving forward. Hy-Brid allows small or large-scale global meetings to take place seamlessly across multiple Hyatt hotels in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East via state-of-the-art video conferencing technology. With Hy-Brid, companies and planners no longer have to gather at one location for their next event as they can host at multiple locations at the same time – all while being neatly bundled and centrally billed.
In practical terms this means instead of flying 200 delegates to one event in Paris it’s now possible to have people attend the event individually and virtually at their local Hyatt hotel but it feels like everyone is in the same place, right down to having the same food and beverage options on offer. Virtually connected by advanced technology and centrally organized by Hyatt, participants in Paris can readily engage and interact with their counterparts anywhere from Hong Kong to Sydney and Dubai.
Early client feedback for the solution has been extremely positive as Hy-Brid simplifies the process of hosting global meetings for big companies and bridges the gap to make these meetings possible while travel restrictions mean face-to-face is still difficult. Hy-Brid is so flexible it works for small strategy meetings with 10 people right up to a webinar with 400 attendees. Solutions like these allow us to serve our corporate clients, meeting the needs they have now while providing a new revenue stream for our hotels.
Covid has necessitated change across every sector of commerce. At Hyatt, we responded quickly because we are set up to do exactly that. We have the resources and benefits of a global network, yet remain agile and nimble enough to move and respond to change at pace.
By taking a flexible approach with a keen eye on innovation, we can deliver hotels that not only keep up with consumer demands but can find new and meaningful ways to generate revenue, whatever challenge is delivered to us next.
At Hyatt we will continue to grow and work with strong partners that allow us to evolve and innovate together to ensure business viability in the long run. We understand the world through the eyes of our owners, because we are owners, too.
By Peter Norman, senior vice president for Acquisitions & Development at Hyatt Hotels Corporation