Hyatt brought crowdsourcing to a new level recently when it conducted what the company called the World's Largest Focus Group, or WLFG: a global series of Twitter chats over a 24-hour period conducted by multiple hosts.
Kristine Rose, Hyatt's vice president of brand experience, said the WLFG came about as a result of more traditional focus groups in the previous 18 months: 40 facilitated group discussions which resulted in changes to Hyatt's approach to guest services. Those changes included "Hyatt Has It," a program for guests to buy, borrow or keep frequently forgotten items.
This time, Hyatt was seeking real-time, multiple time-zone feedback on consumer attitudes toward hotels, amenities and services.
The WLFG was a series of online sessions that included Twitter chats hosted by popular bloggers on several continents over the course of one 24-hour period. Travel enthusiasts from the U.S., U.K., France, Hong Kong, Australia, Chile and Mexico, along with Hyatt associates, led discussions about travel via Twitter and Facebook while mining for insights about what travelers were looking for.
The chat produced more than 9,000 tweets from more than 1,000 participants in nearly 40 countries, Hyatt said.
Participants were able to join the conversation by following #HyattWLFG and answering the question: "How Do You Travel?" Themes included Seamless Travel, Routines on the Road, On the Road Rituals and Traveling Like a Pro.
Here is some of what Hyatt learned from WLFG, according to Rose:
• Checking in to a hotel room should be more guest-friendly; perhaps an app could be developed that enables room choice.
• A knowledgeable concierge or "plugged-in local" is superior to a review site or tour guide.
• Travelers said they would get much more out of their travels if they could just get a few extra quality hours or even minutes of R&R, time to disconnect and unwind.
Hyatt also created an infographic displaying some of the feedback from the chat and a recent survey it conducted (click here or on the graphic, right, for a larger view).
Digital access is king, according to Rose, who said travelers want to be able to use their devices as much as possible. "They will also go to great lengths to get a photo that's good enough to post on a social media site," she said.
Asked if there were lessons for travel sellers out of the WLFG, Rose said, "It confirmed that there should not be a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to hotels."
She said programs such as "create your own" menu options, where guests can combine proteins, sauces, etc., to create their own dishes, and in-room cards enabling guests to leave comments for housekeepers "have been successful and will be adopted for meetings and other markets."
Rose said that changes would also be made as a result of the WLFG, adding, "We are particularly interested in the feedback regarding the check-in process, the importance of sleep and access to more local experts."