Hyatt gets edgy

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After years of soft-selling its amenities, Hyatt Hotels Corp. is employing a more hard-hitting approach to tout its "Hyatt Touch." As more of the MTV set become business travelers and hip boutique hotels are taking a bigger chunk of the travel dollar, the Chicago-based hotelier is courting younger guests with an edgier look to its four-year-old "Feel the Hyatt Touch" campaign.

At the same time, mindful of lean economic times, Hyatt wanted to make sure potential guests knew they get more for their travel dollar at the chain. "Rather than a simple brand campaign, we wanted to have tangible benefits for people," said Wendy Falk, VP-marketing programs for Hyatt.

So its new $20 million ad effort, from Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago, pitches the extras its guests get for their room price, with imagery such as its luxurious pillows and copy reading, "Pate. Pillows. Are Geese Great or What?" The first work appears in the May 28 issue of the New Yorker, Forbes, Vanity Fair and other lifestyle magazines.

Foremost in its discoveries, Hyatt found it was overlooking the growing number of younger business travelers who frequently opt for the more contemporary chains like Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide's W Hotels.

"We went from being user-centric to brand-centric," said Karen Seamen, senior VP, Cramer-Krasselt. "While the last work shows what Hyatt has to offer, it was quieter and this is much more direct. We're really showing the deliverables up close in a lush and inviting way."

Future executions will focus on more service-oriented benefits to tout how the chain has more Gold Key concierges than any other chain and the long tenures of Hyatt staff.

Despite their allure, luxury chains are the most vulnerable in the circumspect economy. Midscale chains that don't offer room service, like Amerihost and Holiday Inn Express, are faring the best in this environment, according to Smith Travel Research.

Those chains are bringing in 15.4% more revenue this quarter than the same period last year. That's nearly triple the room revenue gain at upper upscale chains, which-thanks mainly to price increases-pulled in 5.2% more revenue over the prior period. Furthermore, while room rates for all chains are rising between 3% and 6%, occupancy rates at the most upscale hotels fell to 69%, down 2.9%.

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