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[Herald Interview] New Park Hyatt Seoul manager singles out Gen MZ as key players shaping the hotel industry

Andrew Ashdown, Park Hyatt Seoul’s general manager speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald, Tuesday. (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Andrew Ashdown, Park Hyatt Seoul’s general manager speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald, Tuesday. (Kim Hae-yeon/ The Korea Herald)
Park Hyatt Seoul General Manager Andrew Ashdown has fond memories of running room to room as a child in a hotel his parent operated. He has always associated being in a hotel with positive emotions and, as the new general manager of Park Hyatt Seoul, his goal is to provide guests with similarly lasting experiences by delivering meaning services

Ashdown, who took the post in November after three years as General Manager of Park Hyatt Busan, has said that he will begin this process by seeking out opportunities to inspire millennials and Generation Z. 

Having already begun to identify new strategies of inspiring millennials and Generation Z, he notes that these attempts have been particularly well received by the MZ generation, which he deems to be a major force within the hotel industry.

In recent years, a major portion of hotel staycationers are those in their 20s and 30s and have emerged as big spenders in the industry. To target this segment, Park Hyatt Seoul has been working to create opportunities for them to have stronger voices in the field.

“Personally, I think we’re very lucky to have a lot of young and energetic members on our team. Staff who are members of the MZ generation themselves have a deep understanding of guests’ needs.” he said during an interview with The Korea Herald, Tuesday.

Ashdown learned through communicating one-on-one with younger staff members that they are willing to share unique, hard-to-find experiences with others. Given this, social media became a popular and interesting communication platform for the MZ generation, according to Ashdown. 
‘Gourmet at the Park’ winter dinner set at Park Hyatt Seoul (Park Hyatt Seoul)
‘Gourmet at the Park’ winter dinner set at Park Hyatt Seoul (Park Hyatt Seoul)
“Instagrammable F&B products such as afternoon tea with visually-unique desserts served on a traditionally-patterned tray, or exotic room interiors that include views across downtown Gangnam are unique content that invite selfies.” Each piece of content that clients leave through posts on social media during or after their visit becomes an important asset for the hotel to shape their business.

Technological advancements are critical to the success and longevity of many industries. Hotels are searching for efficiency and effectiveness in operation, for purposes of both cost and convenience of their guests. When asked about the possibility of emerging new technologies such as metaverse platforms and artificial intelligence being absorbed into the hotel industry, the general manager answered in a positive note.

“More interactive personal phone applications, contactless hardware solutions and interactive in-room entertainment systems are just some examples of the continuously changing way in which hotels will operate in the future. In this regard, I am certain that virtual, 3D experiences or ‘metaverse’ platforms will be seen in the hotels of the future, for people of all ages.” he said.

Compared to Park Hyatt Busan where the proportion of leisure guests was quite high, reflecting Busan’s identity as a tourist city, Park Hyatt Seoul seems more varied, according to Ashdown. Located in Gangnam‘s key business district, demand for business events and accommodations is high, on top of guests coming for hotel staycations.

Once the pandemic is over, the general manager expects Park Hyatt Seoul’s customer segments to diversify. He plans on using a multi-faceted strategy of targeting both leisure and business guests in Seoul.

“One day, hotels can be operated solely on the metaverse platform without ever having to leave your house. But until that day comes, our priority is to ensure guests a safe and emotionally fulfilling stay, whether on business trips or vacation, to feel like home away from home.”

By Kim Hae-yeon (hykim@heraldcorp.com)
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