Sunday, March 31, 2019

Marketing Strategy with the Head of Branding at Hyatt

Henny Frazer, Ex-Head of Brands, Hyatt Hotels.

One of my pleasures is meeting up with an old friend after a long absence. For the last five years, Henny has been living in Zurich, Switzerland. I lived in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, for the previous ten years. It was great to meet Henny after all this time.

 The Ivy, King’s Road, during the Chelsea Flower Show

We met up at The Ivy Chelsea Garden, on King’s Road, which was appropriate for several reasons;

First, it used to be a Dive bar called Henry J Beans that we hung out at when we were younger. The restaurant has ‘grown up’ over the years.

Secondly, it’s a unique restaurant, and Henny is an expert on them. Hospitality is her business; Specifically, luxury travel and hotels.

Henny Frazer, of Hyatt Hotels, 2nd from left.

My experience in branding comes mainly from working with agencies and corporate communications teams. My sector is fast-growing tech companies. Henny has worked with well-established luxury brands.

I’m fascinated by branding. And who could deny Henny’s undeniable talent for branding and strategy?

We both had travelled around India with a friend for several months in our 20's, and we talked about that first. I was touched by the experience; 

This included attending the famous 'full moon' parties in Manali & Goa, camel treking in the Thar desert (I raced a camel), getting lost for two days in the Himalayas, along with various other exploits.

The internet is a double-edged sword; in some ways, it’s helped strengthen and give new dimensions to brands. In other ways, it has commoditized a host of products. 

Price comparison sites have hammered the hotel business; it’s also eating into margins in the airline industry. A race to the bottom has ensued in the entire hospitality sector.

The hotel business has also been threatened by disruptive technologies like Air BnB. More recently, Covid-19 has brought the industry to its knees.

Henny talked about this and her work to make brands stand out and capture strong positive emotions and loyalty, which is falling among customers generally.

Andaz Hotel, Delhi

I was eager to find out more and asked Henny for examples. Henny told me a great story about her marketing initiative for The Andaz Delhi. Many hotels are having the same conversation: We are glamorous, cater to your every need, we’re beautiful & luxurious, and so on...

Connecting with the young and fashionable in Delhi

Henny had a different idea to connect the hotel with the history and culture of Delhi, including the new young hip culture growing in the city. The main message for the Andaz brand is:

‘Arrive a Visitor, Depart a Local’

Henny and her team produced a book describing the 401 reasons to fall in love with Delhi.

Why 401 Reasons? It’s simple - Andaz Delhi has 401 guestrooms. Every room has its own reason, which is defined in the book.

Besides, as you enter each guestroom or suite, you will find a unique piece of art illustrating each reason.

The book covers a range of subjects, from art and architecture to local delicacies, nature, and shops. They produced the album with reasons like:

Reason No. 161 - Lassi                     
‘Lassi is the much-loved yoghurt drink enjoyed all over  India. The sweet-tart drink is consumed in vast quantities in Delhi and may be served in fine hand-etched silver and brass cups, terracotta tumblers, and even plastic cups.’

Then the book would be left on this page for guests staying in room 161. Here’s a link to the booklet.

Reason No. 258 - Delhi Blue Pottery

Henny changed the conversation and developed a deeper, more powerful bond with Hyatt customers.

We covered a wide range of branding & strategy subjects at lunch. But I think my favorites were: 

Grand Hyatt’s powerful ‘Living Grand’ message.

The Hyatt Centric brand offers a springboard to discover a city. I had enviously admired footage of Henny at a Flow Rida concert at Hyatt Centric Chicago Magnificent Mile.  

Or the Hotel Du Louvre - The hotel team worked on rebranding this hotel as it has become part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt. This hotel is all about slowing down and really becoming inspired by Paris.


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