By JAMES WILKINSON IN NEW YORK
Hyatt was a major talking point at this week’s 34th Annual New York University International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference in the Big Apple, in part thanks to the company’s significant growth, particularly across Asia-Pacific, over the last 12 months.
The company’s growth, across all of its brands and most notably Park Hyatt and Andaz, has been led from the top with President and CEO, Mark Hoplamazian, promoting a ‘best staff in the industry’ campaign that’s certainly paying dividends for the Chicago-based company.
In an exclusive interview at the NYU Conference in New York this week (June 4), the normally media shy Hoplamazian spoke to HM about development and growth for the company, alongside the recently launched Brand USA campaign.
HM: The company has some high quality, new-build and recently renovated Park Hyatt hotels in Asia at present. Obviously Park Hyatt is a priority for you at the moment.
Mark Hoplamazian: Yes, absolutely. We have got 29 park Hyatts in 20 countries right now and a significant number under development. Our most recent opening in India was the Park Hyatt Hyderabad and we have another Park Hyatt opening later this year in Chennai, and Ningbo in China will also open this year. So, we have got a number of great projects underway and the demand for the brand, and the recognition for the brand, has progressed very, very well so we are quite excited about that.
Andaz, likewise, we have got quite a few projects underway and I think the opening in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) this year will be a great addition and Shanghai has been a great experience for us and we’re really looking forward to the future.
HM: Hyatt has been announcing a large number of new hotels over the last six months, yet you’re still not a company that gets up on stage at conferences and talks about all of your signings.
MH: Our focus has historically been to really focus on our people and making sure we are delivering the experiences that we need to and that remains our focus. We of course believe that being able to expand our presence so we can serve our guests in more places they are travelling to is critical and that’s really what drives our development. It’s not really to post the numbers, it’s really to make sure we are in markets where our customers are travelling. We have committed a lot of capital to do that and the recent acquisition of what used to be the Nikko in Mexico City – now the Hyatt Regency Mexico City – was really very much designed to do just that, which is establish a presence. It’s our only hotel in Mexico City in a market, which is a gateway to a lot of other destinations in Mexico. Our resort portfolio has got a lot of momentum in Mexico and Central America so that was one of the key rationales for why we thought that [purchase] was important… and not to mention it was a good deal! So, that’s the way we think about it and yes, we have got great traction, which I’m thrilled about, but I think it’s a reflection of how we are doing operationally and the demand for our brands and I’m looking forward to some more [hotels].
HM: Brand USA was launched at Pow Wow in Los Angeles a few weeks ago and Hyatt is in a lot of the markets the United States is targeting for inbound travel. Are you excited about what’s happening at present?
MH: I am. I think there has been a great confluence of a unified marketing effort, along with some legislative changes out of the [Obama] Administration to really support more consular offices and officers in some key markets. The [visa] wait times in China and Brazil have come down significantly and India’s underway and these are all great efforts.
HM: Hyatt’s strong branding in China must help significantly when the Chinese visit the US.
MH: We have been focused on outbound travel from China and the highest incidence of Chinese travellers staying in our hotels is in China and one can not lose sight of that fact. It sounds like a blinding statement of the obvious [laughs], but actually our strategy is to make sure we are serving that customer base and really driving a [brand] preference with that customer base because that’s the fastest and most powerful way we can have them develop a preference for our brands. When they travel to the next sphere, which is really Macau and Hong Kong that represents a third of Chinese outbound travel, and then the sphere beyond that which is South East Asia, and then the sphere beyond that which is Europe and North America, then we will have already laid the groundwork in effect. That’s the way we are focused on it and we enjoy great brand reputation there.
HM travelled to New York on Qantas, which offers daily flights to the Big Apple from Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Qantas has recently upgraded Los Angeles-New York flights to Boeing 747-400 aircraft, some of which feature the new A380-inspired interiors including new, larger economy class seats in a cabin that’s highlighted by an extensive range of entertainment on demand alongside a great selection of Australian wine and meals designed by star chef Neil Perry. For bookings, visit www.qantas.com