Winning The Hospitality Wellness Race

It’s not easy to stand out in the hospitality arena, as a herd mentality tends to take over. When a company latches on to “storytelling,” soon every marketer is storyteller. When “experiences” becomes all the rage, everybody is “experiential.”

So when Hyatt sought to stand out in what had been an industrywide move toward wellness -- with the idea that guests leave a hotel feeling better than when they checked in -- it would take more than simply offering a fitness center, sleep aids and healthier food.

That task was put to  TJ Abrams, who has the newly established title of vice president of wellbeing for Hyatt. Recognizing that there is actually a “wellness race” among lodging companies, Abrams said, his mission was “to move beyond words into action. It’s not what you say, it’s how you behave in the world that brings  brands to life.”

Those actions for Hyatt started with the acquisition several years ago  of Miraval, a high-profile spa resort brand. More recently, the company purchased Apple Leisure Group, which has many all-inclusive resorts built around a holistic approach to health.



On a more granular level, Hyatt has sought to carve out its differentiation with multiple partnerships, including  with MasterClass, the educational network, to bring content from experts to guests at hundreds of hotels; Headspace, to offer a complimentary sampling of relaxing sounds; and a pilot program with Future, providing complimentary virtual  guided workouts with personal trainers.

Deploying internal resources,  the company has introduced World of Hyatt Find  Experiences, where World of Hyatt loyalty program members can find a wide variety of wellbeing options from taking an outrigger canoe trip in Maui to learning how to build a fire in the Berkshires; and the Wellbeing Collective -- a cluster of properties that offer immersive offerings for groups.

Earlier this year, Hyatt launched “Be More Here,” a marketing campaign that wraps all of these offerings under one messaging umbrella.  According to Abrams, 70% of travelers say they are looking for unique experiences and offerings and -- coming out of the pandemic -- they want them to support emotional and mental health.

Looking across the travel industry and beyond,  Abrams said he is seeing and hearing more about the importance of personalization. He spoke on a panel at South by Southwest with the chief marketing officer of Whole Foods and the senior vice president of customer experience for Delta Air Lines. All three, he said, agreed that data and technology are providing their brands with the opportunity to tell their stories authentically, based on the brand relationship they have with guests. Hyatt, he said, is investing in AI to accelerate the personalization process so guest “journeys” are more tailored.

Personalization for Hyatt involves “making sure that we meet consumers with the right offer at the right time through the appropriate channels to insure that we are speaking to you and not at you.” With Hyatt’s portfolio of  29 brands, said Abrams, “we need to be making sure our communications reach you in the right way based on diverse needs.”

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