Hyatt Hotels & Resorts is now the latest hotel company to enter the direct booking wars, in an effort to gain back its market share from third-party distributors, namely online travel agencies (OTAs).

Today, the company launched an exclusive discount for members of its loyalty program, Hyatt Gold Passport. Members who book direct with Hyatt via Hyatt.com or the Hyatt mobile app will get a discount of up to 10 percent on their bookings. The promotion initially applies to Hyatt properties in the U.S., Canada, and Australia and is expected to eventually roll out to other countries, although there is no immediate timeline for that expansion.

So, how is Hyatt’s exclusive loyalty-member rate program different from others launched by Hilton and Marriott in recent months?

Ellen Lee, Hyatt senior vice president of global, digital, said this promotion centers on “building long-term relationships and driving loyalty.” Lee said that over the years, Hyatt has tested exclusive member rates in other markets, and with this new promotion, the company wants to increase direct engagement with consumers via shopping and booking.

The company is also revamping and working to enhance guests’ mobile and digital interactions with the brand. Lee said a new Hyatt app is coming “very soon,” within a matter of months, and the company already offers loyalty members the opportunity to check-in online, access Express Checkout, manage their reservations on their smartphones, and communicate with customer service through social channels that include Facebook Messenger and Twitter.

In November, Hyatt became the first travel company to use Facebook’s Businesses on Messenger application to communicate directly with guests and address customer service issues. Lee said that while Hyatt hasn’t done much promotion of the feature since the launch, the company has seen “significant customer uptake.”

Lee also hinted that the channel may eventually include booking features, too. “We’re integrating it into transactional streams and it will play a significant role in our new app.” The enhanced Hyatt mobile app will also provide guests who book direct the ability to make on-demand requests by communicating instantly with Hyatt on services like Facebook Messenger or text messaging.

She also said that the member-exclusive rates are not meant to disrupt Hyatt’s relationships with OTAs, but that Hyatt wants to enhance the overall customer experience by gathering more information about their preferences and stays when they book direct.

“We have good relationships with the OTAs,” Lee said. “They expose us to people who may not think about us. They have a wide breadth of services. If you have an affinity to Hyatt, we want you to book direct because we can get the information direct from the guest.”

Later, Lee added, “Overall guest experience is our bar at the end of the day.”

Tags: hyatt, loyalty
Photo Credit: The Hyatt Regency Birmingham. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts