The technology innovation behind Hyatt's pandemic pivot indicates a long-lasting change in the hotel industry
During the COVID-19 pandemic, as occupancies quickly dropped into the single digits and bookings sank up to 90% by April 2020, hotel leader Hyatt's top priority was the safety and well-being of guests who still came to its properties.
"It allowed us to be more efficient, to ideate differently, and to drive personalization across our platform," Vondrasek told Insider. "The speed of change during COVID was something we had never seen."
Addressing consumer needs
The company quickly brought together a group of loyalty program members to talk in detail about offers that might address their needs. One member interrupted them a few minutes into the company's presentation: "She said, 'You're not listening to what's in front of me right now. I'm the mother of two school-aged kids, and I haven't left my home in weeks, and you're talking to me about a business trip,'" Vondrasek recalled. That led to the October 2020 launch of Work From Hyatt, which offered options to temporarily relocate to Hyatt resorts and receive everything from pet care and laundry services to workspaces.
Not only did Work from Hyatt deliver four times as much revenue as expected, but it has also served as an example of the company's ability to quickly pivot in response to customer needs, Vondrasek said. "Our speed to market was very fast," he explained. "From concept to execution, it was only 60 days."
Developing technology capabilities
Eventually, Hyatt focused on what technology-driven initiatives would really resonate with its guests. They found that digital options were particularly relevant around helping guests control their on-property experience, such as scheduling housekeeping, mobile food ordering, and seamless check-ins.