A Market for Today's Sophisticated Guest

By Thomas McKeown Executive Chef, Hyatt Regency Atlanta | August 20, 2017

The fun thing about meetings hotels is that they are a different place just about every week. One week we're hosting a bridge tournament, the next a corporate sales team, or a dentists' conference, or sci-fi fans in costumes, or cheerleaders jumping for joy. You name the group, and our hotel has probably welcomed them.

There is seasonality to our business, too. In cooler months, we'll have more football fans, in the summer, families in flip flops. And our operation doesn't close up at 5 p.m. Our guests visit at all hours of the day and night, from early morning commuters to airline crews that check in long after midnight. The one thing they all have in common is that they're hungry, and it's my job to feed them.

Feeding today's guest is not as easy as it used to be, because our guest isn't who she used to be. Guests today are vastly more sophisticated in their knowledge and expectation of dining choices. The world is a more connected place, and many guests are better traveled and exposed to unique and interesting cuisines.

Consumers are more careful about what they eat. Guests in general are more health conscious. Many people need to be aware of allergies and dietary choices to maintain their personal wellbeing. Increasingly, consumers want to know what's on their plate and, importantly, where their food came from. And we all want to look younger and thinner (but still want to binge on some ice cream in the privacy of our guestroom once in a while).

Social media has an impact here as well. Dining experiences that are worthy of sharing on social media are very much in fashion. What we're eating is now part of our personal brand, an image that we all carefully build and promote through our social posts. We like our food to be surprising and delightful, so we can tell our friends and followers that because we chose it, WE are surprising and delightful.

To meet the demands of all of these various, informed, wellness conscious, socially engaged and discriminating guests, chefs and hotels have had to get a little creative, change some rules, even push back some walls - in our case quite literally. One of our most popular solutions to meet all of our guests' needs at Hyatt Regency Atlanta has been our Market concept.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.