Hyatt puts focus on PR for consumer research

Hyatt Hotels showcased how it integrates PR with research when it worked with FleishmanHillard on a global Twitter focus group in September.

CHICAGO: Hyatt Hotels showcased how it integrates PR with research when it worked with FleishmanHillard on a global Twitter focus group in September.

The program, dubbed the World's Largest Focus Group, launched on September 26 on Twitter and ran for 24 hours, asking consumers and influencers about their travel preferences. Fleishman, which has worked with Hyatt for four and a half years, was an influential part of the global effort.

In addition to helping to create the global concept, the firm managed social channels, communicated with influencers throughout the day, and put out press releases, said Dawn Langeland, SVP and senior partner at Fleishman. She added that the agency, which started working on the Twitter effort at 4am ET, is also collaborating with Hyatt to analyze and read through the data that was collected. The brand's CMO also conducted a chat with consumers on Google+.

“Normally, if I was starting a research project, I wouldn't reach out to my PR and communications team, I would reach out to my research and analytics team,” said Kristine Rose, VP of brands at Hyatt. “This is a great way to use the changing world of technology and how consumers communicate to really do meaningful research.”

The online focus group recorded nearly 9,000 tweets from 1,000 travelers in 40 countries, with influencers hosting chats from Mexico, Chile, France, the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, and the US. More than 95 million traditional and social media impressions were garnered throughout the day.

Bloggers chatted with participants about themes including seamless travel and on-the-road routines.

While Hyatt and Fleishman are still going through the data, Rose said one of the key findings from the Twitter initiative is that consumers find packing, both at home and in hotels, to be the most stressful part of travel. Going forward, Hyatt will think about how to make that part of guests' travel experience less of hindrance.

Rose added that Hyatt is planning on hosting Twitter focus groups again, most likely next spring, so the brand can figure out how to tailor hotel amenities, services, and offerings to individual guests.

The Twitter focus group, although a bit challenging because of the fast-paced responses from consumers, is a great way “to get travelers' attention and have them participate without interrupting their day” with a traditional survey or questionnaire, explained Rose.

Bill Power, MD of global brand marketing at Fleishman, said the online focus group shows how Hyatt is using new tools and technologies to connect with and gain insights from consumers.

“This proves the function of public relations can be as much about input and research as it is about engaging, communicating, and influencing,” he said. 

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