How Hyatt Regency Savannah is Keeping up With the Foodies

By Juliana Shallcross Founder, Trips and Giggles | August 21, 2016

Hyatt Regency Savannah is embracing the city's exciting foodie scene with a vibrant new restaurant concept that will give guests an authentic dining experience and an up close view of Savannah's riverfront, while at the same time, will meet the day-to-night needs of the modern traveler.

For the past few years, hotels have begun modernizing their offerings for a new type of traveler-one that's readily plugged in (sometimes literally with their smartphone in hand) to the newest trends in design, technology, food, and experiences. This traveler expects far more from their hotel than just a comfortable bed at night. They want the hotel to embody the spirit of the destination they are visiting, from the moment they check-in to the moment they check-out.

Yet these thoroughly modern guests also want the hotel to tick off all the right boxes when it comes to dining, amenities, and convenience. This can be a tall order for any hotel, even a newly built hotel, but for hotels that were constructed before the rise of this hyper-connected traveler, figuring out how to physically adapt their existing spaces for guests' rapidly-changing behaviors can be tough. But not impossible as evidenced by the plans in place at Hyatt Regency Savannah.

The hotel recently celebrated its 35th anniversary with a full renovation of all its 351 guest rooms, adding enhanced guest room WiFi, plus a new modern decor that was inspired by and complements the city's dramatic and artistic personality. The crisp and clean color palate of greys, smokey indigo and citron green evokes the shimmering contrasts along the streets of Savannah's historic district that are laced with slivery Spanish Moss trees. In addition, guests enjoy new carpeting, window treatments, soft seating with upholstery that includes subtle metallic touches, plus new bathroom vanities, showers, lighting, bed sets, and TVs. Specially commissioned artwork in the rooms consist of a series of bicycles capturing the spirit of Savannah. And the design of black iron lighting in the room's sconces, night stand lamps, and ceiling lights evoke the wrought iron gates of "Old Savannah."

Dan Johnson, the hotel's general manager, said the new look was due in part to the need to keep up with the new supply of rooms that have come online in Savannah in recent years. "It reminded us that we have to stay fresh and current," Johnson said.

The need to stay competitive also coincided with an interesting change in Savannah's tourism business.

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Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.