Skift Take

Given the current geopolitical climate and the ever-tightening, more restrictive stance the U.S. is taking on immigration and travel these days, Hyatt's new ad could not be more timely.

If you happen to tune in to watch the Academy Awards this Sunday, chances are you’ll catch Hyatt’s new ad campaign, “For a World of Understanding.”

Shot on location in Thailand, Morocco, and Spain, the campaign shows a series of vignettes of travelers in those three cities, while Andra Day sings her own rendition of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s iconic song, “What the World Needs Now is Love.”

In the spot, which was created by MullenLowe, a woman wearing a hijab alerts her fellow train passenger to her fallen scarf. A black traveler in Morocco befriends local villagers. A boisterous Spaniard welcomes an Asian businessman who feels out of place in a crowded sports bar. A Thai food vendor convinces a skeptical traveler to try a scorpion. The ad ends with a frustrated traveler who, having been stuck in traffic, receives a warm welcome as his taxi pulls up to his hotel in Thailand, and ends with a message promoting Hyatt’s new World of Hyatt loyalty program, which officially launches on March 1.

If the ad seems a little bit touchy feely, it’s supposed to be that way. Echoing the tone of some of the more politically charged advertisements that we saw during the Super Bowl about cultural acceptance and inclusion (Airbnb, Expedia, and Coca-Cola’s ads come to mind), Hyatt’s does the same, albeit in a slightly more subtle and understated way.

“Our hope is that people will see just the nugget of the idea,” said Debra Goetz, senior vice president of marketing and communications for Hyatt. “It’s a simple universal truth. The campaign is really built on the knowledge that a little bit of understanding goes along way. It’s built on our [company’s] DNA. It’s a 60-year-old idea for us. … It’s a timeless message that also happens to be timely. And there’s a want for it.”

Hyatt wouldn’t divulge how much the campaign cost but the company’s CFO said in an earnings call last week that the company allotted $20 million to “key growth initiatives, including the launch of our World of Hyatt loyalty program.”

Hyatt, unlike some of its other peers, hasn’t been one to do quite as much television advertising. “We haven’t done something, corporately like this, for a very long time,” Goetz said. She said the last Super Bowl commercial the company ran was in 1985, and it’s been “at least a decade” since the company has launched a corporate campaign of this scale. “It’s time to really explain the World of Hyatt to all of our constituents to bring it to light.”

The global campaign will be promoted not only on TV, but also through various digital and social channels, as well as out-of-home, in-hotel, print, and events throughout 2017. Hyatt is investing heavily in promoting the campaign in the U.S., China, and India in particular, too.

“We are a global company and we work around the world every day,” Goetz added. “We wanted to bring forward a very authentic message and something we live up to, and really showcase the global nature of our message.”

The World of Hyatt Program Gets Ready for Its Close-Up

When Hyatt first announced its new loyalty program in October, response to the program was mixed at best. Many loyalty members of the Hyatt Gold Passport program were upset that the new program made it harder for them to earn top-tier elite status and was based more on spend than on number of stays.

Their feedback was especially heard loud and clear on a Reddit AMA that Jeff Zidell, Hyatt SVP of Loyalty, hosted in November. And although the fundamentals of the program haven’t changed since Hyatt’s original announcement last year, Zidell said the company is taking travelers’ suggestions very seriously.

“We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback from all different channels and all over the world,” he said. “It’s a lot to digest. We were changing so much about the loyalty program. When we made the announcement it was very focused on the tactics of the loyalty program but now it’s about the bigger platform: the experiences we bring to life. The anthem video [the advertisement that will be shown during the Oscars] that we’re debuting. It’s this much bigger platform that we’re bringing to market. … As we’ve gone to market now with 1 to 1 communications and telling them [members] what tier level they’ll be and what that translates to with World of Hyatt … it’s been much more well received. It’s being digested in smaller increments so they can understand.”

He added, “Everything on March 1 will roll out as it was stated back in late October, early November. As the program rolls out and begins to mature we certainly look at everything with a fresh pair of eyes to see what’s working for customers and what needs to be tweaked.”

Skift asked Zidell if, given Hilton’s recently loyalty program announcements, it too would include similar features in World of Hyatt. He said, “if you look at what they [Hilton] did … many of those aspects already exist in World of Hyatt. The pooling of points, using cash plus points. Those are already part of the World of Hyatt.”

Delving More Into Experiences Outside Hotels

While Hyatt, like many of its peers, have placed increasing importance on giving their loyalty members access to special experiences, both Goetz and Zidell said that will be an even more important benefit of the new loyalty program going forward.

An example of that is Hyatt’s partnership with AFAR to give members exclusive access to a three-day immersion experience for up to 75 travelers in Tokyo. Hyatt is also partnering with two nonprofits, Learning AFAR and No Barriers USA to enable loyalty members to sponsor Chicago public school students to be part of a 4-6-month-long cultural and educational immersion program that ends with a 10-day trip to Costa Rica.

Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian also told Skift earlier this year that the company would be looking beyond hotels to serve guests’ evolving needs.

“The way we refer to that has been to talk about moving into spaces that might be adjacent to our core hotel business, but still relate to things that people might do when they’re traveling and as they experience life,” Hoplamazian said.

Entry into adjacent spaces was clearly demonstrated when the company announced its acquisition of wellness brand Miraval last month. And as Hyatt focuses on expanding that brand, as well as launching its new World of Hyatt program, it’s clear the company is making humanity, and not just experiences, a shared focal point throughout all of its marketing efforts, too.

“I think travel in itself is experiential, which is very important and I think it’s great for the whole industry, but I think that the core fundamental reality, which is this draw toward humanity, toward authentic human engagement, is really the key big issue,” Hoplamazian said. “I think staying focused around how you actually serve that and be a part of that and engage in that is really the key issue [for our industry].”

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Tags: hotel marketing, hyatt, loyalty

Photo credit: A promotional still from Hyatt's marketing campaign for its new loyalty program, World of Hyatt. To market the new program, Hyatt is launching a global marketing campaign, "For a World of Understanding." Hyatt Hotels & Resorts / Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

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