CAMPAIGNS: Hyatt reveals deft touch in showing its spas to media

PR Team: Hyatt Hotels Corporation (Chicago) and MMG Mardiks (New York) Campaign: Touches of Spa Hyatt Media Event Time Frame: April - June 2003 Budget: $100,000

PR Team: Hyatt Hotels Corporation (Chicago) and MMG Mardiks (New York) Campaign: Touches of Spa Hyatt Media Event Time Frame: April - June 2003 Budget: $100,000

The Hyatt Hotels Corporation may be the illustrious operator of hotels and resorts worldwide, but the company really prides itself on the individual nature of each of its properties, which incorporate local art and design. This has been a successful tactic for Hyatt, which opened its first hotel in 1957, and now runs 207 hotels across the globe, from Cairo to Wichita, KS. Recently, Hyatt employed the same technique in its contribution to the ever-growing spa market, Spa Hyatt, which manages 33 spas in total, with three more slated to open in 2004. Yet public awareness was insignificant and the company faced the problem of informing potential patrons on the variety of unique full-spa services Hyatt offers. In April, Hyatt hired MMG Mardiks to address this issue because of the firm's creativity and hotel experience, says Lori Armon, PR manager at Hyatt. Strategy "We wanted to communicate with the public that Hyatt is the largest hotel operator of spas in the world," says Armon. A key goal was to develop a brand for Spa Hyatt that retained a sense of individualism for each spa. "[To do this,] we needed to build awareness within the media that Hyatt hotels have a sense of place, and are very indigenous to their surroundings," adds Armon. Tactics MMG Mardiks kicked off the effort with an online survey to identify niche markets for Hyatt to focus on, such as the emerging group of male spa-goers. After that, a press kit was assembled to create story angles that the media could pursue. Most of the effort was put into the Touches of Spa Hyatt media event at the Grand Hyatt in New York on June 17. Select media members were invited, mainly from spa and travel publications. The invitation included one sandal, luring the invitee to find its match at the actual event, says Armon. About 60 people attended, each receiving two spa activities on average during allotted appointments. "We wanted to bring the experience of treatments firsthand to New York," says Kevin Gabriel, AE at MMG Mardiks. The Touches event transformed seven meeting rooms into spa rooms, says Gabriel. "The rooms appealed to the senses with music, candles, flowers, and fruits according to the culture where they originated." One option, the "Spirit Path," applied spice and grains used by Native Americans, provided by the Hyatt resort in New Mexico, where the treatment is given exclusively. Results In the month thereafter, spa bookings went up 15% from the same period a year earlier, says Gabriel. Both Hyatt and MMG Mardiks are optimistic that bookings will continue in that direction in the future. In total, Spa Hyatt received 132 million media impressions within 60 days of the Touches event. Broadcast segments were also featured on both the Fox News Channel and WB Television Network, where Gordon Tareta, Hyatt's director of spa operations, demonstrated treatments to audiences upwards of 2 million. Moreover, USA Today ran feature coverage of the event as did American Spa, the leading spa-industry trade publication. Much of the coverage focused on Spa Hyatt specifically, compounding the brand awareness the spas needed, says Armon. Future Hyatt Hotels intends to keep working with MMG Mardiks on the campaign, and there are plans to implement a visiting-journalist program to allow the media ongoing experiential spa treatment, says Armon. Also in store is a new program, Adventure Hyatt, to promote the extreme-sport options Hyatt hotels offer. It is tentatively planned for October 2003.

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