HYATT HIRES MEETING CONCIERGES If you're tired of getting your convention services manager's voice mail two weeks before your group's arrival day, Hyatt Hotels Corp. feels your pain. To increase the likelihood that you'll be able to connect with your CSM, the chain's major U.S. properties have created a new position--the meeting concierge.

These employees, who report to the director of catering and the CSM at each hotel, perform a whole range of on-site meeting tasks, thus freeing up the CSM on property to spend more time in the planning stages of meetings.

Dean Petersen, Hyatt's assistant vice president of catering and convention services, says more than 60 staff members have been added across the chain's bigger hotels, which comprise about half of its 110 properties. Most hotels have one meeting concierge, but sites that host a lot of meetings have up to four. At smaller properties, existing staff has been recruited to help out CSMs in shifts.

The new position is part of a customer care initiative that grew out of a Hyatt survey of 1,000 meeting planners. In addition to the meeting concierge, Hyatt's new customer care initiative includes: an ongoing planner survey to rate the hotel's performance in serving meeting groups, staff recognition for exceptional service at meetings, and a system in which successful customer service practices are shared among properties.

Petersen says he's already seeing results of the program, which began in March. "I'm getting great letters and comments from our customers," he says.