In an e-mail to Hyatt Gold Passport members, Hyatt announced that it "is extending its hospitality and service to accompany you at all times during your travel journey. Whether it's before, during or after your stay, Hyatt hospitality will be on-hand to make your travel experience easier and more enjoyable through our new service called HyattConcierge, which can be accessed through Twitter by any web-enabled device."
Hyatt advised the twitteratti to just "send us your tweets" if you "need directions to the Grand Hyatt New York? A restaurant recommendation in Hong Kong? A spa appointment at Hyatt Regency Waikiki? HyattConcierge is there to assist you with your travel questions and requests."
Actually, HyattConcierge has been using the Twitter account since May 18, but you have to work out all of the kinks before going public.
So, an hour ago (as of this writing), Joan Toth sent the following tweet: "Hi, having a problem making a Hyatt Crystal City reservation for 7.21.09 - can you help? Mtg room block is sold out. thanks!"
And, Hyatt Concierge responded, within minutes: "Glad to assist! Please DM the name on the block of rooms and the # of nights you wish to stay, so I can find out more. Thank you."
When it comes to customer service issues, many travel companies from JetBlue to United often take the conversation private through DMs (Direct Messages), or private e-mails on Twitter.
In one of my daily Travel InsideOut editions the other day, I picked up a post from the UpTake Travel Industry Blog, which said people at the recent HITEC conference were bemoaning the fact that the lodging industry just doesn't "get" Twitter.
Obviously, some people and companies in the lodging do understand social media's potential.
Anyway, kudos to Hyatt for using Twitter as a marketing and customer service arm. It makes a lot of sense for a hotel chain to do this because its customers can tweet questions and issues from their cellphones when they are on the go and facing a problem.