DONALD Lucki has a dream. It may not be unusual, but is one that should make people sit up and take notice. It is, after all, full of potential. The marketing systems manager - a particularly nondescript title if ever there was one, especially in Mr Lucki's case - for the Hyatt International group of hotels has some pretty hi-tech dreams. He dreams of being able to have every nook and cranny of every Hyatt hotel around the world photographed, and those images posted on either the Internet or some other on-line service, and programmed so that a virtual visitor can navigate through them much the same way as in the computer cult-game Doom. 'A customer should be able to sit in his room and use his room TV to go to a virtual restaurant in a hotel across the world and pick up a menu,' Mr Lucki said. 'You should even be able to check out a Hyatt you're going to, or link up with a friend staying in a Hyatt across the world and play a game of virtual golf or Doom with each other.' An interesting concept, but as Mr Lucki is quick to admit, there is 'a lot to do first'. Hyatt's management do not seem to be too much of a problem. The hotel chain is already doing a lot with on-line service CompuServe, and will have its own interactive World-Wide Web site soon - it currently has a Web site, but only one that is part of a hotel industry service called TravelWeb - according to Mr Lucki. However, he has yet to work out the costs of making it all work as he plans. On a more practical business side, Mr Lucki is thinking of ways to link up all Hyatt hotels with each other, so guests can be offered a variety of videoconferencing options, to name only one application. 'We could offer it in various structures, and like there are different prices for [videoconferencing] rooms, we could have different prices for different types of real time video conferencing,' he said. Business people on a low budget could use an Internet or CompuServe chat-type system to have a text-only conference, while for those who can afford the charges, a live, albeit black-and-white service could offered. 'Of course, for the right price, they could have a full-on real-time video conference, with a marble or glass background just a mouse click away,' Mr Lucki said. Such a service could be a big money-earner for the hotel chain. In the meantime, the Hyatt is working on getting E-mail capabilities into guest rooms. The hotel chain is also considering a number of other service improvements through which more travelling executives could be attracted. Mr Lucki envisions every hotel buying '20 licences of every [software] product known to man, so that at the touch of a button a hard drive can be reformatted for a user with exactly what he needs'. Thus, a businessman would no longer need to lug a notebook computer halfway across the world to work on a report and give a presentation to customers overseas. He would simply upload the information for his presentation, for example, to his on-line service mailbox, go over to the Hyatt at his destination, rent a notebook with the same software he used at home, download his work and go off to his presentation. 'This is easy to do,' Mr Lucki said. 'It gets tough when a business executive who has not used the Net before decides to try at 2 am. 'It's like someone who has not tried a massage before but wants to try. We can have help guides, but you still need people. 'Today you can come to the business centre in the day time, but most people will like to do it [use the Internet] in their own rooms sitting in their shorts.' These are some of the ideas that could help the hotel chain upgrade customer service. In the meantime, Mr Lucki, who has been with the Hyatt since 1994 and is now referred to by colleagues as the 'Vice-President of Cyberspace' or 'The Professor', is spearheading a project for the Hyatt dubbed Integrated Marketing and Communications (IMAC). 'IMAC is a method of looking at data to let customers tell you what's going on,' Mr Lucki said, adding that this went beyond the current methods of marketing, where an advertising campaign would be followed by a survey to find out whether the promotions had had any impact on consumers. In the future 'data is the key - it would be critical for anyone stepping towards the Net, for example', Mr Lucki said. With IMAC, the Hyatt is constantly gathering data from customers - often so non-intrusively that the guest has no idea that he is being 'surveyed', so that his needs could be better served. 'Wouldn't it be great,' Mr Lucki asked, 'if you can walk into a Hyatt in Bali and you've never been there before but they have your favourite drink waiting for you?' Everything relates to providing better customer service so that the guests will return. But as Mr Lucki pointed out, IMAC was just a methodology, most of which failed without the right tools to help implement them. Bearing this in mind, he has designed IMAC software so that the hotel chain's staff - everyone from a bell hop to a senior manager - 'can follow the methodology with a tool to go with it'. 'Look at who is staying at the Hyatt . . . they are fairly upscale, frequent travellers, people who have got to where they are because they know who they are,' Mr Lucki said. 'The goal [with IMAC] is that no matter where the guests are, the information goes with them so that their needs are taken care of without them having [to experience] any inconvenience.' Already the Hyatt caters to the increasing on-line needs of such travellers and there is a desire to do more with less effort. On its existing Web site and on CompuServe it has photographs of its properties and descriptive text - information that is 'in parallel with Hyatt's worldwide guide'. Among the data on the sites are distances to airports from particular locations, and even airport tax details. Although photographs of rooms are not yet available - they will be on-line soon, according to Mr Lucki - there are pictures of restaurants and even gymnasiums, and maps showing the location of Hyatt hotels in various regions. CompuServe users can even get a discount of up to 30 per cent off published room rates by booking on-line, Mr Lucki said. He added that checking in on-line, however, had not gone down well with some travel agents because it allowed Hyatt customers to bypass them. 'We haven't got to electronic money, or credit card bookings, yet, but as people go through the Net, that'll become easier to do,' he said. Mr Lucki, who is currently working on a book titled The Taming Of The FRU, is also involved in the Hyatt's drive to open 45 new properties worldwide by 2000 and make them digital. His book, he explained, would expand on the ideas of Massachusetts Institute of Technology visionary Nicholas Negroponte presented in the book Being Digital. FRU, he said, stood for Frequently Reused Understandable, a term he coined to represent a unit of measure for information. And he has not stopped there, coming up with FRUIT - FRU In Transit - for information on the move. All this fits in with the 'different' approach to life in general the 34-year-old Mr Lucki has. 'Mother told me a long time ago: 'You can be a pig - it's good to be a pig - but don't be a hog because hogs get slaughtered',' he said. His different approach to information will see some of it being presented in a project called CORAL - for Central Operating Repository and Language - he is working on, and which will enable the hotel chain's vast library of photographs and related data to be catalogued and put on the Web. It would be combined with 'complex indexing and a huge language database' to enable automatic translation of data so that users of the site could get everything from world times and currency conversions to general geographic information. 'It would help adults, children, and journalists become more aware of the world,' he said.