The first hotels under the two brands are launching in Latin America, with further hotels planned for Jamaica, China and, eventually, Spain and Portugal. Hyatt claims this is the first time a major global hospitality company has launched new brands exclusively focused on the all inclusive sector.
Speaking to Marketing Week, chief marketing officer John Wallis said it was important to Hyatt to launch new brands rather than incorporating all inclusive elements as part of other packages to avoid confusing the customer. However, Ziva and Zilara will be incorporated into the Hyatt portfolio, which now includes nine highly targeted brands including Hyatt Recency and Andaz that are connected by “common values”.
“We can’t just be Hyatt Regency and sometimes be all inclusive and sometimes not. We’re just going to confuse the customer. The customers said to us said they need to know when its all inclusive and when its not,” he added.
The move into the all inclusive market is the culmination of a four-year process as Hyatt tried to understand the sector, discover what its customers wanted and find a partner and level of investment they were “comfortable” with. Hyatt is launching a franchise with hotel investment company Playa Hotels and Resorts, which will manage the new hotels when they launch following multimillion-dollar renovations.
Wallis said these first two properties will be “lab” hotels, with the company planning to experiment to find out how to provide the best experience for customers. It will judge its initial success in the first two months by listening to what customers say on reviews sites such as TripAdvisor and social media, before defining the experience and working out what its signature elements will be.
“We aren’t coming in with a bold idea of where we’re going. We will experiment, we will figure out what really works and then as we grow the brand we will implement our unique features,” he added.
“This isn’t a five-year brand, this is going to be around for the next 50 years. What I do is imagine what the world will look like if there 50 Hyatt Zivas and 50 Hyatt Zilaras, how do we want them to be positioned.”
Hyatt will market the brand initially at its current customers before identifying people like them that are interested in the top end of the all inclusive market. However, rather than using traditional methods such as a print campaign or TV ads, Hyatt will be focused on building up brand awareness via digital and social media.
Wallis highlighted that Hyatt no longer has an ad agency. Instead, marketing will be brought in-house and with Ziva and Zilara it is experimenting with how to launch a brand without the use of ads following the example of new travel companies such as Airbnb.
“While we had an ad agency we weren’t going to think outside the box and we weren’t going to start looking at how new brands entered the market without big marketing budgets. We wanted to take our brands and actually start driving unaided awareness using today’s capabilities,” he said.
So far, that has involved using social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to engage with customers and listen to their feedback. Wallis is also keen on Vine, Twitter’s six-second video service, saying it has made brands realise that not all content has to be “perfect”.
Hyatt is also focused on targeting. After realising that it was treating every customer the same, it is spending $8.5m on a campaign that aims to find out what females want from hotels and targets ads at them. Wallis claimed this has so far resulted in a 18 per cent uplift in revenues from female bookers.
“We are a data driven company that just happens to run hotels,” he said.