HNN’s Stephanie Ricca spoke with Hyatt Hotels Corporation President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian at the company’s headquarters in Chicago in September. The interview is transcribed in full below with limited editing for clarity and accuracy.
CHICAGO—Hyatt Hotels Corporation President and CEO Mark Hoplamazian spoke with HNN Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Ricca at the company’s headquarters here in September. A transcript of the interview follows here.
Hotel News Now: Hyatt is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, and you have been here for 11 years, Mark. A lot has been going on at the company over the last few years. As you reflect back on your time at Hyatt, what are some of your own personal highlights that stand out?
Mark Hoplamazian: I guess as I reflect on that question, I think about personal impact or personal experiences that I’ve had that have been meaningful to me. And I would say as we sit here on our 60th anniversary month, the fact is that the key things that have actually powered Hyatt’s success over six decades is our culture, which is really centered around care, a sense of care and empathy, the practice of empathy. So our purpose as a company is to care for people so they can be their best. And I would say that probably the most important thing that I’ve experienced over the last 11 years is to have the opportunity to expand my own capacity for empathy. That’s extended, by the way, in my work life and maybe most impactfully in my private life, my personal life with my family. I would say by far that’s the biggest thing I’ve experienced that has been life-changing.
Hotel News Now: As we move on and talk about Hyatt’s business strategies, that idea of empathy seems to be a foundation for how you do business. Why is that important?
Hoplamazian: I think it’s always true that understanding others is essential. Given how close the world has become in terms of information flow and access and, frankly, travel. One of the great things about our business is that we are part of a very significant movement in growth and travel across the world. The power of understanding cannot be underestimated. We’re really focusing on making sure that we’re a part of that and that we’re helping to enhance that for the benefit of our colleagues and our guests, and elevating the opportunity to understand others. And that understanding really translates into really being able to care for people better, understand what their needs are, understanding how their needs are changing and evolving because there’s a lot that’s changing and evolving about consumer behavior. So, being able to adapt to what you’re hearing and seeing and then be able to serve and care for our guests and each other in ways that are impactful are essential to our business. That is our business. So I would say the practice of empathy is really essential to our success.
Hotel News Now: Can you give some examples of how you see it play out in the industry?
Hoplamazian: It’s a great question. I would say the practice of empathy has an impact on colleague relationships with other colleagues in every moment of every day. Because hotel teams, when they show up, they’re working together in a very cohesive way to serve and care for guests when they’re there. So, that sense of community and connectivity is very, very pronounced. The second thing I would say is that, in this digital world where people do have their noses buried in their devices, the opportunity for authentic human engagement and interaction still is precious. People are drawn to it and it’s very powerful. And that emotional reality of feeling like you’re cared for and being in an environment where people have really heard you so that they understand you, I think allows you to be better at what you’re doing and allows you to be at your best and has a big impact on the guest experience and therefore has an impact on loyalty. So we think it’s actually an essential piece of how we end up driving and creating a richer sense of loyalty with our guests at the same time we are enjoying and really celebrating the Hyatt family values.
Hotel News Now: Let’s talk about brands. Hyatt has 13 lodging brands including its vacation ownership brand. Several of those have launched since you’ve been at the helm of the company. Talk about how that brand growth and development has been important to strategy since you’ve been CEO.
Hoplamazian: Yeah. Thank you for that. I joined a company that had an incredible brand reputation and a wonderful halo that I benefitted from that was based on decades of work that my predecessors applied themselves to. So I came in highly advantaged and benefitted by a lot of work that was put in before. And really what we turned to was really making sure that back to the sense of understanding, that we were closely connected to what guests were looking for and how we could differentially serve them. We benefit from being focused on a core end of high-based customers. We’re not trying to be everything to everyone, everywhere. And we don’t spend all the segments of the industry. So first and foremost, that focus allows us to spend more time and make sure we’re more deeply engaged with our guests and understand what their needs are and how we can better serve them and care for them. And the launch of the new brands that we have developed over time is really all derived, each of those brands is derived from insights that we have been able to garner from our own guest base. So I would say that’s really an important element to brand success. If you’re deriving it from real need, and then you’re successful in executing, which is something we’ve really honed over a long time, six decades to be exact. Then, you can really have resonant brands. And I think that that resonance shows up in our pipeline, which is bigger than it’s ever been with an opening pace that faster and bigger than it’s ever been, as well as just performance of our brands. So, from a market share perspective, from a reputational perspective, and as an employment brand, as a recognition matter, as a best place to work on many, many different surveys and different ratings and rankings. All of that goes to a demonstration that the brands are actually not just resonant but really delivering value for our colleagues, for our guests, and for our hotel owners.
Hotel News Now: Hyatt has been entering that lifestyle space. Why do you think Hyatt’s take on lifestyle stands apart from the rest?
Hoplamazian: I think it comes back to people. I think our ability to design hotels that have unique character and also energy is well-established. We’ve got a good history in design and bringing innovative food and beverage programming into the hotel experience. And it’s also true that the experience is not driven by the product. The experience is driven by how it feels. And that is really driven by people. So I think the most powerful definer of what a lifestyle brand means to someone is how it feels. And that really is defined mostly by the interactions with colleagues. So I would say we’ve taken a lot of time and effort over the last, in particular, five years but I would say even longer than that now, really looking at our practices. What are we doing day in and day out? Why are we doing those things, and are there ways in which we can better unlock the ability for our colleagues to bring more of who they are into the guest interaction? I sort of describe it as bringing your whole self to what you’re doing and living out loud. Like being yourself. And so a lot of what had been become embedded in what I would describe as sort of the standard operating procedure loop of reinforcements about what you’re measuring and how you’re gauging success, we really had to take a hard look at that and peel that back and say there are clearly important things. Basics have to get delivered, you know, in the right way because that’s an expectation that people have. But the most important differentiator for us can be and needs to be the personality and the passion of our own people. So being able to unwind some of those rules and regulations and unscripting our colleagues has been a big release of a huge amount of a great amenity that has hit our hotels. And I think that that actually is the key driver of this whole lifestyle move or movement that you’re describing. It’s really about that interpersonal experience.
Hotel News Now: Let’s talk about Miraval, which Hyatt acquired earlier this year. At the time of the acquisition, the brand included one resort, in Arizona. There are a few on the way in addition to that. Talk about where we’ll see this brand and how it will integrate into the Hyatt portfolio.
Hoplamazian: So, back to the power of understanding. As we really focused on what our guest base was interested in, the focus on wellness and well-being was extremely high. The focus was very high. There’s more time and attention spent on how people want to pursue a better sense of, a higher sense of well-being in all aspects of their life—at work, at home, when they’re on holiday. So when you look at wellness travel, it’s already a huge market and it is growing at a very fast pace. And when you look at wellness programs, and I’m not just talking about the medical side or the healthcare cost side of wellness that many corporations already focus on. But a broader definition of wellness into well-being, which includes things like mindfulness in the workplace and being able to help people be balanced and creating balance for themselves and being present. So the idea of being able to manage your thought patterns in a way that allows you to be focused and calm and focused is really a powerful thing. So it really goes to productivity in the workplace. It goes to a sense of fulfillment in the workplace. And there are many companies that are dedicating a lot of time and effort to this area. Miraval was really a perfect fit for us because we wanted to be a part of that wellness journey and journey toward a better sense of well-being, but we wanted to do it through the lens of mindfulness and applying mindfulness, being mindful about things like nutrition and fitness and spa, and of course just caring for yourself in a more holistic way, so including things like meditation, breathing exercises so that you can be present and be calm and be healthier as a result of that. What we’re finding is that there’s demand for this, both in what I would describe as the B2B side of the business, that is in meetings for corporate customers and associations, as well as the quote unquote B2C part, which is direct to transient guests, and mostly leisure but even business travelers. And so we’re working right now on designing how we can bring the unique programming that has two decades of authenticity built into it from Miraval into Hyatt offerings. So stay tuned. We’ll have more to talk about this after we get through some piloting and testing and prototyping we’re doing right now. But I’m really excited about the impact that we might be able to have on a lot of people on our current guests and maybe new ones that we’re inviting into the world of Hyatt through helping them live more balanced lives and practice well-being in a more holistic way.
Hotel News Now: Where will we see the brand over the next ten years?
Hoplamazian: First of all, you’ll see the Miraval brand in more destination wellness resorts. We have a new one being built in Austin right now. We have another new one in Lenox, Massachusetts, in the Berkshire Mountains, which is absolutely beautiful. So you’ll see those two. I don’t know if we’ve announced it yet, but you’ll soon see a Miraval life and balance spa, which is a standalone spa operation within a Hyatt resort hotel. There’s on existing at the Monarch Beach Hotel currently. And so you’ll see additional destination resorts, additional ones in the United States but also globally we have great demand from developers in Japan, in Korea and in China for the Miraval brand. We haven’t taken that step yet because we’re still working on making sure we’re ready to scale it in the right way because this is not a brand that you should be thinking about in a cookie-cutter way with new facilities. We have to make sure that the authenticity is preserved. So that’s one way that you’ll see it. And the second way is you’ll see Miraval programming in Hyatt hotels, both for meeting guests, those who are there for meetings and conferences, as well as for transient guests. So, stay tuned.
Hotel News Now: It sounds like you’re making wellness a part of the business strategy. Is that ever challenging when you’re in conversations with developers?
Hoplamazian: It might be that we are on the front edge of what is going to be a huge trend, but there is clear evidence already that there is a lot of focus on this. So you don’t have to look too hard to find examples, in the corporate world, in the other institutional world, in educational institutions, in not-for-profit institutions, in aid and other kinds of institutions that are applying mindful programming and processes within their workplaces. And that’s actually really important because if that’s what’s happening in workplaces, then maintaining that capacity when you’re traveling at a Hyatt hotel is a really significant benefit to be able to have as a guest. And I’ve already engaged with CEOs at a number of Fortune 500 companies that are dedicating significant time and effort to this because they see the benefit in many different dimensions of their business. So I think developers will increasingly understand how powerful it is. But then there’s no substitution for experiencing it yourself, so what we’ll need to do also is get more and more of our developers to experience what we’re talking about by visiting a Miraval destination resort. We also acquired a brand called Exhale, which we are going to be investing behind and refreshing from a product perspective and also making sure we identify ways we can bring their programming into Hyatt hotels, and that will be even more accessible because there are many more of them and will be over time. I think this whole idea of wellness is going to be something that will really resonate with more and more people. We’ve already seen that.
Hotel News Now: Let’s talk more about Exhale and Oasis. Talk about those two acquisition plays and where they will fit in the overall strategy.
Hoplamazian: When we relaunched World of Hyatt earlier this year, we designated World of Hyatt as an experience platform. Yes, it is a loyalty program, but really the intent behind it and the design of it is as an experience platform. So the idea simply is that we want to be there for more travel occasions for our guests during hotel stays and also between hotel stays. And that between hotel stays part means that you’re now starting to provide them with resources and offerings that are not in hotels. Some of the offerings that we may be offering to local residents of Chicago might be located in a Hyatt hotel, but not actually there as a guest overnight. So that’s the bedrock platform that we will continue to look at areas that our guests are really interested in having more and differentiated services and offerings provided to them and ones that are meaningful to them. So wellness is by far our most advanced effort right now. But another area that we have gotten some exposure to a few years ago through different investment that we had made at that time in Onefinestay was the incidence of our guests renting homes or apartments for certain of their stay occasions, for certain trips that they were taking, either for holiday or for family trips or otherwise. And what we really learned was this was not a competitive dynamic with the hotel stay, it was actually a very different need that they were fulfilling. So the choice really wasn’t do I stay, do I rent this house or do I stay in a hotel or which house am I going to rent? And so as we looked at that more we thought there’s a way for us to be there for them when they’re looking for that kind of experience. And so Oasis really was a way for us to start down that path. We made an investment in the company, and we are now working with the team to understand how we can provide their offerings to World of Hyatt guests on different databases and directly, and make sure that we pay attention to travel patterns for our guests and understand where they’re traveling and where they might need this kind of accommodation offering. And so I believe that we’ll end up extending that over time and, again, be there for more travel occasions for our guests.
Hotel News Now: Tell us what we can expect from Hyatt’s core brands over the next ten years—Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Hyatt Place.
Hoplamazian: Yeah, there’s no question that … when you actually look at the data, a lot of the growth remains in the core brands. So we’re blessed with having brands that remain resonant and we’ve evolved them. And we don’t have really any attrition to speak of. We’re not shedding lots of hotels every year because our hotel portfolio is actually, they’re well-located and they’re still relevant in their relevant markets. So we’re really fortunate that we’ve got a really vibrant foundation. We’ve looked at many, many different things we’ve evolved over time. Some of it is technology-enabled that allows the guest experience to continue to evolve in ways that are most important. So we invested in something we call Colleague Advantage, which is a technology platform that really overcomes a very cumbersome interface of property-management systems in the hotel industry. So we got a very light middleware kind of technology platform that pulls data and information from the reservation system or from World of Hyatt or from our property-management system, our point-of-sale system into an interface that is very, very user-friendly. So it allows our colleagues to spend a lot less time staring at a screen and tip tapping away on a keyboard and rather on a touch screen in a very simplified booking path getting someone checked in, and allowing them to stay engaged with the guest in a more humanistic way than the old experience of being at the front desk. So that’s an example of how we’ve evolved it. It’s really for the benefit of our colleagues so that they get to actually fulfill why they came into the industry, which is interacting with guests, not tip tapping on a PC, and also a much better experience for our guests. So that’s a simple example, but there are many, many things that we have been looking at and introducing through the app that is now available as a platform for lots of requests that you might make on property as well as allusions of the brand in terms of our offerings and programming. So we have evolved. The Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine has taken on a life of its own. So we’re really bringing more differentiated and avant-garde offerings into that for our Park Hyatt guests. The salon series that the Andaz hotels host, likewise, has pulled in lots of local cultural institutions and individuals in the individual markets in which we operate. So I think what you’ll see is a constant evolution. This is not something where we’re sitting back on our laurels and satisfied with what we’ve got. We’re going to continue to evolve based on input we get, back to the power of understanding.
Hotel News Now: Let’s talk about Hyatt’s growth strategy moving forward. The company has traditionally been an owner of many of its assets, and also known for investing its own capital into those assets. At the same time, you have said in the recent past that growing the fee-based part of Hyatt is a top priority.
Hoplamazian: I guess what I would say is we have been focused on creating value. And that is true when creating value for our colleagues, for our guests, for our hotel owners and for our shareholders. And so as we think about what we’re doing and how we’re doing what we’re doing, we take that into consideration. That is our guiding light. Our utilization of our balance sheet has been tremendously value creative. We’ve gotten into some key markets where we didn’t have representation, where we had weaker representation. It’s allowed us to be a first mover in certain areas. So we are the first multi-brand, multi-national hotel business that’s in the all-inclusive segment with Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Zilara. So we’ve taken some bold steps and I think into segments that are important to us and for us and for our guests. And we’ve utilized our capital base to do that. And so therefore I look at it as a vehicle for being able to grow in the right way, to expand our presence where we need to and to really make it a more valuable proposition for guests that come and stay at a Hyatt hotel or a Hyatt-affiliated hotel even though it’s not a branded Hyatt hotel. And so to me, I look at it and I think that it’s really been a tremendously great tool for us. At the same time it is really important for us to stay focused on growing our platform and the vast majority of our very large pipeline is third-party-owned and -developed hotels, the vast majority. So, most of our growth will be in partnership with third-party developers and owners of hotels that we will either manage or franchise. And that has been the case and will remain the case going forward, probably even more so going forward. I think you’ll see even bigger proportion. I guess over 95% of our pipeline has no Hyatt capital embedded in it whatsoever, and my guess is that percentage will just continue to grow from there. So I think that’s a really great sign that people are finding value in doing business with us. In terms of geographies, China for sure is a key market. Not just because it’s a big travel market unto itself but because the mega trend of the next 25 years is the increase in outbound Chinese travel, really coming into the entirety of the rest of the world, which will have a big impact on how we operate and what’s going on in the world of travel. But we have a longstanding history in the Middle East and in India, also in Europe. Our penetration in Europe remains low, so we’re still looking for new and different ways to grow in Europe and then also in South America.
Hotel News Now: We’re sitting here in the lobby of Hyatt’s new headquarters in Chicago. I’ve read that the design firm behind the project, Gensler, incorporated many of Hyatt’s touchpoints for hotel guests into the design here. Tell us more about how that is reflected in the space here.
Hoplamazian: Our thought was if you came to work and you had the experience of some of the same touch points that we designed for our guests, it would be a maybe not-so-subtle reminder of the business that we’re in because a lot of the people who work here at the headquarters are not necessarily spending a lot of time on property, other than as guests from time to time. So the idea that we would match and mimic the journey of the guest when you come into the space was something that we thought would be a wonderful reminder but also experientially something that becomes a part of your consciousness about what you’re doing every day. So the idea of sense of arrival that has got some import to it, a food and beverage experience that creates many different kinds of opportunities for engagement and interaction. And then social events that you can have on property, and in this case in our headquarters. So flexible space that can be repurposed for gatherings and some resources and embedded technology that really facilitate that was all important. And then the sense of departure as well, leaving the space and maybe leaving your own space to go visit others and then leaving the office all together. So we really designed all of those different elements to have a special element to it that felt more like a hotel sequence than maybe a corporate office. So varied seating, we have many different types of seating and many different types of spaces that really give everyone an opportunity to explore and seek out what is most comfortable for them.
Hotel News Now: So in a way you can almost use this as test space.
Hoplamazian: Yes, actually and we’ve talked about testing new food and beverage concepts and maybe even looking at different setups for different types of engagement for meetings. Right now we are doing some experimentation and prototyping on some mindfulness practices that you can pull into meetings on hotel property, but it’s pretty wonderful to be able to practice those with your own colleagues. So we opened some meetings with some mindful moments as a means of testing it out.
Hotel News Now: How many employees do you have here at corporate headquarters?
Hoplamazian: The total head count, if everyone were here at the same time, which is never the case, is a bit over a thousand people. And of that, we probably have at any given point in time just over 800 people here in the building.
Hotel News Now: You talked about the importance of empathy. Talk a bit about how you translate that to employees of the company and touch on company culture.
Hoplamazian: Well, I guess I would say that we through the work that we’ve done around our purpose of the company, which is to care for people so they can be their best, really spent time rediscovering our roots and our foundation. So the sense of care really comes out of what our own colleagues told us. When I asked them and when we asked them as a team, why did you join Hyatt to begin with? And why do you stay here? Because we have the benefit of having very long-term tenure people at the company, including an average tenure amongst our general manager core of over 22 years. And the answer consistently came back as a sense of care. That is, they felt cared for and they felt that they were also fulfilled in caring for others and other colleagues. So I would say that the corporate culture is very much centered around that care and there’s an emotional connectivity within the Hyatt family that really is definitional to our culture. It’s not so much a transactional environment. It’s much more an interpersonal and emotional connectivity that defines Hyatt. And to me, that’s what’s special. That’s why I joined the company, actually, and why I’m thrilled and honored to continue to be here. It is fulfilling. So, I would say that’s the case. In order to care for someone, you have to actually know them. You can serve people without knowing them. I can provide you phenomenal service, but I cannot care for you unless I actually come to understand you at least to a certain extent, not necessarily knowing every deep, dark secret that you’ve got, or at least every deep secret, not dark ones. But you can’t really care for someone unless you engage with them and practice, and through that really, the vehicle to that is really the practice of empathy. So the idea that you can practice empathy is essential to being able to care for someone. I coined an equation at Hyatt. It is empathy plus action equals care, because I can empathize and get to know you but if I don’t do anything about that to help provide for you in some way, then I’m not really caring for you. Alternatively, if all I do is take action and serve you, but I haven’t taken a moment to understand you, then I’m serving you but I’m not really caring for you.
Hotel News Now: How would you describe some challenges being a leader of an organization like this?
Hoplamazian: Interestingly, what people are really seeking out more and more is a sense of purpose. They want to identify what their own purpose is in life and how what they do relates to that. They also want to work for an organization that has a higher sense of purpose in something that’s much bigger than themselves. So I would say that’s actually a need that we see and a dynamic that we see everywhere. I would also say that the world is changing at a very rapid pace and our industry is changing at a rapid pace. So the need to remain agile and light on your feet and adaptable has never been more important. That capacity is something that we continually work on to make sure that people are bringing a growth mindset to what they’re doing. They’re looking at alternatives. They are seeing things with a fresh set of eyes. These are all essential principles that we’ve been really focusing on over the last several years because as the pace of change continues to accelerate, our capacity for adaptation needs to continue to rise as well.
Hotel News Now: How do you think guests have changed in the last few years, in terms of what they want from travel and hotels in particular?
Hoplamazian: That’s a great question. The answer is a lot, actually. Part of it is they are more enabled completely with digital access to information and resources than ever before. So this idea of having the ability to understand the locale that they’re going to or some kind of experience that they’ve heard about or would like to pursue, it’s available to everyone in a much more distributed way than it ever has been before. So that’s one way in which I think guests have really evolved, primarily by virtue of their resources that are available to them. I also think that everyone’s been talking about this and it’s clearly true, that people are really valuing experiences over products. So travel is a big beneficiary to that because travel is inherently experiential. That’s fabulous news for our industry. But it is also clear that within travel, people are looking for things that are not commonplace. So in some of the experiences that we are designing and looking to pull into our hotel programming, we’re making sure that we’re not providing them with a commoditized thing that you can get anywhere, but something that is maybe through the lens of a colleague who has a special friend in that particular place who’s a great chef or a great musician or someone who’s got some unique capability that would be really interesting to gain access to. So we’re doing some experimentation right now that is delivered online, isn’t commodity. It’s not something that you can get everywhere. So I think guests are increasingly seeking out something that’s special and unique, and the great news is that we’ve got tremendous resources through our people really everywhere where we operate.
Hotel News Now: Hyatt’s international footprint has always been a big part of the company’s growth strategy. How do you interpret your strategies around Hyatt’s culture on a global level?
Hoplamazian: Maybe the biggest trend that we have observed and we are going towards in a pretty significant way is a heightened sense of people’s own wellness and well-being, and I think that is here to stay. I think the world in which we live can be challenging with the non-stop digital feeds that people are on. And the idea to be able to take a moment, gain some composure and gain some perspective and context for how we experience that world that we continue to live in is very powerful. It enables you to be able to feel calm and balanced but also more in control of yourself and how you apply your mind and your body. And so yes people are focused on their physical well-being, so this incidence of fitness being a key part of what they do day in and day out, and also nutrition. Yes, that’s heightened. But I would say it’s more of the mental well-being piece that is really now garnering a lot of attention and I think is going to be a key part of what we see in the travel industry going forward.
Hotel News Now: Wellness and well-being are so important to you and Hyatt as a company; can you share an example of how you incorporate these practices into your daily life?
Hoplamazian: Well, I’m not sure I’m a good model necessarily, but I’ve practiced some things that might be helpful. So I have a bit of a pet peeve, and that is that I don’t appreciate people being on their electronic devices during meetings. So I try to model that behavior as much as I possibly can by leaving my device on the table, or actually even better than that, outside the room during meetings. Another example, I was just at Miraval in Tucson, and they have a really adorable little bag on the bedside. It’s a little sort of canvas bag, if you will, and on it, it says ‘your phone deserves a good night’s rest as well.’ So it’s an opportunity to put your phone away and pull the drawstrings on the bag and just put it aside. And you put it aside and you actually take a step away from it as opposed to having it there 100% of the time. So I think that some of those disciplines are great. On a personal level I would say I got a bit of a wake-up call from my kids because I was discussing with them this idea of being present and practicing empathy. The feedback I got from them was their description of me driving them to school in the morning. They said, Dad, you know, the fact is, our experience of driving to school with you is you’re either on the phone talking to someone or when you’re not on the phone talking to someone, when we stop at a light you’re checking your emails or your texts, and we have to tell you that the light turned green. And it was a huge wake-up call. Here I had imagined that my time driving them to school was this time to connect and it was special, but in fact that’s not really what I was practicing. So it really brought me down to earth in a pretty significant way. And my practice around that has changed entirely. So I’m not on my phone either speaking with someone or certainly not texting or emailing when my kids are in the car, I just won’t do it. So it’s not just what happens in the workplace, it’s also a big impact on your home life.
Hotel News Now: Loyalty has been a big part of Hyatt’s past and big part of future. How do guests’ desires play into how you changed the loyalty program and where it’s going?
Hoplamazian: Well, if we do our job correctly, it will drive everything that we do to build this platform, World of Hyatt, into a broad experience platform. So, we have to stay dedicated to listening carefully to what our guests are looking for. We have the benefit of focusing intently on the high-end traveler, so we’re not trying to be everything to everyone. The ability to be able to translate what we learn about their desires into differentiated products and services for them is really what we’re excited about. So we’ve started down this path and our first area of focus is wellness. So with the Miraval acquisition and the Exhale acquisition and some of the other programming that we’re working on right now that bring some of the IP, the intellectual property, from Miraval and Exhale into Hyatt hotels, we think that we will be able to really engage in a meaningful way with a large number of guests and have an impact on their lives but also allow us to stay engaged with them between hotel stays, not just enhancing their experience while they’re on property. And so we will be looking at many, many alternatives and other areas in which we can extend and expand the offerings so that the platform of World of Hyatt is really a way to experience the ‘small w’ world of Hyatt through the ‘capital W’ World of Hyatt. So that’s really the idea and we’re excited about the future prospects.
Hotel News Now: Knowing what you know about Hyatt’s guests, what sort of challenges do you think about as you look at the world around us?
Hoplamazian: As an industry, I would say the wind is at our backs. We have an increasing incidence toward travel. We have a couple of mega trends of very significant increase, I call it the consumer class or the commercial class, but as people who are developing higher levels of disposable income and now applying more of that to travel. And the biggest growth in that community and populations are in places like China and India, where the numbers are quite staggering, where you’ll see outbound Chinese travel go from 100 million a year to 300 million a year over the next 15 years. That’s a pretty astonishing change and shift to shape what’s going on in people moving around this globe. There are over a billion travel movements over this past year out of a global population of 7 billion. So there are a lot of people who are traveling for many different purposes. So, first and foremost, travel is benefiting from a significant and sustainable level of growth in demand. I think that these mega trends and the commercial or consumer class in places like China and India are also a significant trend, which will change the profile of where the travel dollars are coming from and where they’re being spent. For sure they will. But the good news is there will be that many more people traveling to see the world. I think as a citizen of the world, I would say there’s a great benefit in that I think it means if people are paying attention and really present when they’re traveling, back to my mindfulness comments earlier, that we will have a better world in which to live because the level of understanding of other people and other cultures will be that much greater. So I’m optimistic about where we’re headed as a globe. And I think travel is a key driver of a better world.
Hotel News Now: Is it safe to say that Hyatt will not be launching a conversion economy brand any time soon?
Hoplamazian: I don’t know that I can predict what tomorrow will bring. Right now we have been and remain focused on the high-end traveler and remain focused on deepening our understanding of their needs and what they’re looking for, and broadening and extending our brand to accommodate that, and making it a richer experience for them. So that’s really our focus, and we’re going to stay focused on that.
Hotel News Now: Now that the first 60 years have been achieved, what excites you about the next year?
Hoplamazian: One of the most exciting things that I’ve experienced over my tenure at Hyatt is being able to open hotels in places where we’ve never had representation in the history of the company. Places like the Netherlands. We had no representation ever in the history of the company, and now we’ve got two hotels open in Amsterdam, for example. Sorry, three, including a Hyatt Place at the airport. And we’ve got many new markets that we’re going to be opening up. We’ve got Hyatt Centric actually opening up for the first time in South America. Lima, Peru, and Santiago, Chile. Very exciting times when you can open up a new market. We opened up our first-ever presence in Uruguay in Montevideo with a Hyatt Centric. So very, very exciting to be able to do, to open up a new opportunity for Hyatt guests to go and stay with us while they’re exploring a new country. I would say, though, even more important than being able to extend and expand our presence is opportunity for our employees and our colleagues around the world to be able to grow and find new opportunities for their careers. We’re in particular focused on making sure we are participating in bringing people who are out of school and out of work at this point into the workforce. So we’re focusing on making sure that we play a role in that because we really feel that’s essential to really bringing opportunity to where the talent is and helping to support a better employment base for everyone. And so that’s particularly important and I think fulfilling. So I would say the most exciting thing that I see is a continued growth of the Hyatt family and the extension and expansion of opportunities for the Hyatt family.
Hotel News Now: That’s a great note to end on. Thank you so much, Mark.