With 23 years of experience with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Gus Vonderheide, the company’s vice president of global sales for the Americas, has a panoramic view of the meetings landscape. He shared insights with Connect during IMEX America—which he called “the Super Bowl of events for the group segment.”
You mention Hyatt has a “reverse perspective” when it comes to meetings. What does that mean?
We want to care for others so they can be their best. We’re constantly seeking out opportunities to help them do that and we put ourselves in the shoes of the customer.
How do you bring that concept to life?
One way is through our new Hyatt Event Concierge app, which puts the power of behind-the-scenes in the hotel in the hands of planners. They can adjust heat without leaving the room, for example. The app connects them directly to people who can help, rather than going through another coordinator.
Are you using big data to help create more personalized experiences?
Absolutely. We’re creating task forces by market in the area of GEM, or guest experience management. We collect data on travelers and share it with our hotels around the world so we’re much more in tune with the traveler. That’s a concept we’re amplifying with meeting planners now too.
Anything else planners can expect from Hyatt in 2017?
Meetings on Demand is a new website we launched for meeting planners to check inventory, room space and rates, and then book and pay with a credit card. We tried this a few years ago and people weren’t really ready for it. It makes sense for us because so much of our business is small groups with 50 rooms or fewer.
Do you worry about the app and Meetings on Demand taking away the human element of the industry?
I like to think of it as “technology meets human resources.” The collection of data is the human touch, and we intermix the two.