Think of any hotel loyalty program off the top of your head and chances are that you’ll come up with either Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt or Starwood, four of the behemoths in the industry.
They’re popular for a reason: they’ve got award-winning loyalty programs with cobranded credit cards and they have a wide spectrum of hotels all over the United States. But is there space for another player within that scrum? Wyndham thinks so, and they’re retooling their loyalty program to prove it.
The crux of Wyndham’s changes come down to how they price out their award stays. For the last several years, the group used to break out award stays into categories, casting out least expensive stays into an inexpensive bucket at 5,500 points and making the most expensive stays — say, at a Dolce or a Wyndham Grand — more expensive at 30,000 points.
With the new program they launched this week, all reward stays will now be 15,000 points. This means that the 15,000 points that you earned at a Days Inn or a Super 8 could be applied equally to a Howard Johnson or a Wyndham Grand. More simply, the most expensive hotels under this program are much cheaper and the least expensive hotels are much more expensive.
While on the surface this may seem like a boon to travelers looking to redeem points for high-end Wyndham properties (what else do you save up points for?), what’s still unknown is how much capacity those properties are going to release. Advertising rates of 15,000 points at the Wyndham Grand in Orlando but only making one room available at that property per year, for example, is still “offering rooms for 15,000 points.”
It’s also worth pointing out this program recalibration comes on the heels of a massive loyalty program restructuring that led to consumer backlash in 2013.
Either way, Wyndham seems to have their heart in this loyalty program overhaul, so much so that they’ve created an entirely new ad campaign around it. And to be clear, the changes from last month’s program look great. High-end hotel rewards are now cheaper. A test booking we did for a summer weekend in New York City even yielded numerous award options for 15k rewards — right in the city.