As of September 20, 2020, Hyatt Hotels (NYSE: H) spanned 20 brands and owned more than 950 hotels, covering 67 countries across six continents. And yet a program it launched in 2019, Hyatt Loves Local, helps nearby small businesses in its communities thrive.
During the pandemic, the program has managed to keep some of these mom and pop businesses alive.
A spokesperson for Hyatt Hotels said that it developed the program based on listening to its customers and guests who wanted to see something done to help their communities. Especially for millennials, having a social mission enhances a company’s reputation.
The spokesperson noted that “Local businesses make up the heart and soul of a destination; they help Hyatt hotels thrive.”
In fact, a recent American Express Global Travel Survey noted that 77% of consumers go out of their way to support local mom and pop shops.
The pandemic curtailed Hyatt Hotels’ revenue since so many people halted traveling and holding business meetings and conferences. Its first quarter 2021 results reported on May 4, 2021 revealed a net loss of $304 million.
Yet its CEO Mark S. Hoplamazian noted at the earnings report, “First quarter results exceeded expectations as demand improved meaningfully over the course of the quarter.” He attributed the rise to increase in vaccine distribution.
Hyatt Loves Local has collaborated with a host of local eateries and food companies. For example, Hyatt Regency Atlanta invited Anna Bell’s Kitchen Mac & Cheese to prepare its mac and cheese specials within the hotel’s kitchen space.
Hyatt Place Eugene hosted pop-up tasting events for Iris Vineyards, a female-owned winery. Combining with the hotel, Iris Vineyard now offers guests a package consisting of a bottle of its wine, exclusive private tastings and tours of its vineyard.
Epitomizing the effects of the program is Tosha Williams, who runs Dessert Fantasies Bakery in Baltimore. Before the pandemic struck, it had a 1,500 square foot storefront with four tables, located in the downtown Locust Point neighborhood.
Williams says it was known for “crafting fresh-made desserts and sourced all of our ingredients locally.” Desserts such as cherry crumble and karma, a whiskey caramel cake with cream cheese filling, drew a slew of regulars.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, the bakery lost a series of events it was catering, and several large orders. “It caused a big decrease in sales,” Williams acknowledges. She cut back employees and finally was forced to close the storefront in March 2020.
But back in 2017, the Hyatt Regency Baltimore had reached out to her. Dessert Fantasies formed a partnership with the hotel, providing desserts for their guests. When the pandemic hit, the hotel offered her space in their kitchen to prepare her desserts.
Williams let her customers know via social media and its website of the change of venue, which now lists the Hyatt Regency Baltimore as its address. Customers and hotel guest can order online for pick up or delivery, and customers are welcome to eat at the Hyatt hotel property.
What impact has Hyatt Loves Local had on Williams’ business? “It’s allowed us to continue our operations at Dessert Fantasies and provide desserts for locals and hotel guests. Without it, we would have had to close,” she says.
She feels gratitude for their helping keeping her female-owned and minority-owned bakery alive, during tough times.
Asked why Hyatt Hotels, a profit-making resort chain, not a non-profit like the Red Cross, wants to help small businesses like hers, Williams replies, “We provide culinary delights. It gives their guests an opportunity to have a different experience than the hotel is providing.”
Now that the pandemic is showing signs of fading and vaccinations are rising, Williams is scouting for a storefront to reopen. “We’re looking at properties. But we’ll continue our partnership with the Hyatt Regency Baltimore,” she explains.