Q&A With David Horowitz, Hyatt Regency Century Plaza

The general manager talks to TAW about LA’s hotel scene and more By: Kerry Tiedeman
Horowitz // © 2010 Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
Horowitz // © 2010 Hyatt Regency Century Plaza

The Details

Hyatt Regency Century Plaza
www.centuryplaza.hyatt.com
With new renovations, its unique Los Angeles location and nearly seven acres of space that include a health club and spa, conference and meeting rooms, restaurants and pools, the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza is working hard to appeal to every type of client, even in these challenging economic times. TravelAge West recently spoke with David Horowitz, general manager of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, to find out about the hotel’s recent updates and what strategies Horowitz and his team are using to market the “urban resort” during these difficult economic times.

How has the hotel changed since its recent renovation?
The most recent renovation, Phase 3, was geared toward the small group market, creating rooms for group sizes of up to 100 people. Phase 1 involved work on the guestrooms and Phase 2 dealt with the remodeling of the hotel’s public areas.

Why is the hotel focusing on appealing to the small-group market?
We actually have many different market segments that we appeal to, and a hotel that is our size — 726 rooms — needs numerous demand generators to be successful.  We have leisure, international travel, large group meetings and small group meetings. The more diverse clientele that we can attract, the more chances we have for success. We think that the corporate market, which often times has smaller meetings from 20-75 people and whose stays are very short-term, will help the hotel over the next couple of years.

How are you marketing to corporate clientele?
We have salespeople who are deployed to reach out to the corporate market.  We have many different lists and historical data to attract them. We also do trips, where we bring clients to the hotel to showcase what we can offer and to show them all of the changes that are going on. The third thing that we do is direct-mail pieces. We have a photographer take some incredible photos of the hotel so clients have a visual of what the new space looks like down on the plaza level. So, there is a multitude of things that go on. 

With Phase 3 of the renovations completed, are you also focused on attracting more local business as well?
Local business will also be impacted by the renovation to the hotel. Now, we are able to gear the new space toward weddings or local group meetings. For example, after the renovation, we hosted a bridal show in order to target that local audience.

How do you market your hotel to the leisure market?
In terms of the leisure market, our activities are more geared toward creating marketing packages to attract that audience. For example, when it comes to the drive market from San Diego to San Francisco, including the Phoenix and Scottsdale areas, we offer a series of value-added packages and programming that we developed months ago to attract that audience.

Does having families stay at the hotel disrupt your traditional business clientele?
I think that, in any hotel, you have an eclectic clientele. There are not so many families that you find them disrupting the business traveler. Generally, the business traveler will be out the door at 8 a.m. attending his or her meetings and won’t return until typically 5 p.m. The leisure/family traveler is generally getting up a little bit later, so there’s a chance that they don’t cross paths at all. I think, frankly, what creates a hotel of interest is the diversity of what goes on in that hotel. We have business, leisure and international travelers so it’s almost like a melting pot, and I think that is fun for people coming to the hotel because you never know what you are going to see.

In a challenging economy, your hotel’s business has been doing well compared to other properties. What sort of strategies are you employing to keep that business up and what separates the Hyatt Regency Plaza from other hotels?
To be effective in our marketplace, we have a multitude of market segments that we are putting our efforts and marketing dollars toward. Part of that is taking advantage of our unique location. We have proximity to Beverly Hills, the beaches, Universal Studios and Hollywood, but we don’t have to charge the very high prices during summer months that the beach hotels do. We are able to leverage our location to the staycation market that may be more price sensitive and unable to pay the high rates of beach hotels. Our location helps us sell the hotel as located in the heart of Los Angeles.

How do you work with travel agents to sell the hotel?
We have a dedicated sales team that is directed toward serving the travel agent community. They are out regularly meeting with agents to educate and sell them on the virtues of our property. We contact agents and trying to educate them on the location of the hotel and what it has to offer, keeping them updated with changes at the hotel. Secondarily, knowing that pricing is still a fairly competitive environment, we have offered value-added packages that agents can sell, giving their clients a good value on coming to Los Angeles. For example, we were offering a fourth night free during the summer and 50 percent off on a second room, which was specifically geared toward the families that travel agents would be selling to.

What makes your hotel unique and noteworthy?
The most important thing I would love to tell your readers is that the location of our hotel is fantastic, and it really lends itself to doing a lot of different activities when coming to Los Angeles. We also have a lot of options within the hotel, whether it is dining or a world-class, 25,000-square-foot Equinox, spa and health club. There is a tremendous amount of activity people can do here and they are able to do it in a reasonably cost-effective way. With almost seven acres of property, we market the hotel as an urban resort. I think it’s shocking to people when they see our size; they think they are coming to a city, and they don’t understand that the hotel has a resort-like setting. 

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