FROM DINNER ON an aircraft carrier to a teambuilding sailboat race in San Diego Bay, the recent Hyatt Insurance & Financial Round Table was an effective example of using local resources to help create a successful event. The meeting, sponsored by Hyatt Hotels and Resorts in partnership with American Airlines and destination marketing company PRA, was held August 5 to 8 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, overlooking San Diego Bay.

The roundtable, last held four years ago, is an acknowledgment of the importance of insurance and financial services group business to Hyatt, Brian Booth, director of sales and marketing for the company's central national sales office, told the 38 planners in attendance. While insurance and financial services group business has yet to return to the halcyon days of pre-September 11, Booth reported that business has been coming back gradually, and that the numbers through June 2004, were particularly encouraging.

Included in the roundtable's business sessions were updates on Hyatt properties, the latest trends in food and beverage (Chocolate is more popular than ever.), and discussions on topical legal issues (such as attrition and security) with Hyatt Corporate Counsel Margaret Egan. The business sessions were topped off by an enthralling presentation by fighter pilots George “Gundawg” Dragush and Scott “Slick” Vasina from Afterburners!, a consulting group that helps companies and groups transfer to the business world lessons learned in the cockpit.

With the help of Hyatt partner PRA, planners were treated to a variety of activities particularly relevant to San Diego. The teambuilding event put an assortment of decidedly landlubberly planners and Hyatt and PRA representatives in 17 sailboats for a race around San Diego Bay. The highlight of the race was the unexpected entry of an aircraft carrier, which chose to return to port as the roundtable regatta was concluding. And then, in keeping with the nautical theme, attendees were treated to dinner the following night on the flight deck of the U.S.S. Midway, a recently decommissioned aircraft carrier that now sits along the San Diego waterfront.

What's New

A new guest room package is in the works, according to both Booth and Fred Shea, vice president of sales for the Hyatt Hotels Corp. The introduction of Hyatt's “Grand Bed,” will give Hyatt rooms a new, cutting-edge look, while flat-screen televisions are on their way in and the traditional armoire is on its way out. There will also be a renewed emphasis on training throughout the company, said Shea.

On the international front, the Chinese economic miracle has not gone unnoticed at Hyatt: Shea re-ported that there are 23 hotels under development in China and said it is becoming Hyatt's largest growth market.

IN THE PIPELINE

Hyatt Highlights

  • Hyatt currently has committed $500 million in capital expenditures throughout the world.
  • Passkey, the online group booking engine, is partnering with Hyatt, which now has 47 properties that are Passkey-enabled.
  • Self — check-in kiosks are now being implemented in selected Hyatt hotels with the objective of eventually installing them in every Hyatt property.
  • After decades at its 200 West Madison Street address in Chicago, Hyatt later this year is moving its corporate headquarters down the road to the 48-story Hyatt Center.