Marketing 50

Hyatt Corp.

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In an age when the hotel industry has taken some hard knocks, Hyatt Corp. is fighting back with a bold new campaign that promises to match the best published Internet rates.

It's one more reason Hyatt stands out, propelling the hotel chain into the ranks of the Marketing 50. Behind the campaign is Wendy Falk, VP-marketing programs. Two 15-second spots created by Cramer-Krasselt, Chicago, tout's "Best Rate Guarantee," which promises if someone finds a better published rate online, will match that rate and give the guest 20% off their stay. "It was important to get out there more aggressively," Ms. Falk says. From internal research, Hyatt gleaned that "Customers really prefer to book with the brand if at all possible," says Ms. Falk, 37, who spent nine years at Publicis Groupe's Leo Burnett Co., before joining the hotel chain in 2001. She points out that Hyatt works with third-party travel sites but "booking on is the best rate [a customer is] going to get."

The campaign also includes newspaper ads, direct mail, online ads, in-hotel signage and promotions. Spending wasn't disclosed. According to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, Hyatt spent $10.7 million on advertising between January and August of 2003, flat from the same period last year.

Another focus for the chain, which runs 207 hotels and resorts globally, is attracting more business travelers. That goal is driving $500 million in renovations at more than 30 of Hyatt's North American hotels. But perhaps its biggest branding pitch for business travel came from overseas this year with the release of the critically acclaimed "Lost in Translation," the Sofia Coppola-directed film starring Bill Murray as a business traveler staying at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo. While Ms. Falk says Hyatt hasn't seen an uptick in business from the film, the company is offering a special package with some of the luxurious amenities that Mr. Murray's character enjoyed in the film.

Going forward, she says, will play an increasingly central role in the company's strategy. "We're trying to provide value to people with an added experience," she says. And after a tough few years, things are beginning to look up, she says, adding, "We're starting to see better demand."

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