At a time when most hotel loyalty programs are so highly coveted and promoted by hospitality companies, but also increasingly complicated in some cases, it's interesting to see how Wyndham's easy-to-understand approach is working to help attract new customers and reward them.
With the new Wyndham Rewards program, launched in May, members only need 15,000 points to stay anywhere within the Wyndham hotel portfolio, whether it’s at a Days Inn, Super 8, Dolce, or Wyndham Grand property. There are no blackout dates, and 15,000 points goes toward one night’s stay in a standard room at a participating hotel, up to the room’s maximum occupancy, and subject to availability.
Wyndham spent $100 million to invest in an 18-month advertising campaign to market it, increasing its digital spending to $5.2 million, a budget six times more than what they spent in 2014. It also hired Kristofer Hivju, a Norwegian actor best known for his role on HBO’s “Game of Thrones” to play the Wyndham Rewards Wyzard. His catchphrase? “You’ve earned this.”
Today, the company is seeing the rewards of its investment.
Since May, 5 million new members have signed up for the program and there has been a 70-percent increase in property redemptions, according to Wyndham. Last year, just under 75 percent of all redemptions were for hotel stays. By comparison, in 2013, the same year when there was massive consumer backlash to program restructuring, only 55 percent of redemptions were for hotel stays. Today, Wyndham Rewards has approximately 44 million members. By comparison, competitors like Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest have 55 million and 23 million members, respectively.
What’s contributing to this growth? According to Wyndham’s Noah Brodsky, senior vice president of worldwide loyalty and engagement, it’s the fact that the program is simple enough for both hotel owners and customers to understand it.
“We heard from our customers that the [hotel loyalty] programs have just gotten too complicated,” Brodsky said. “You just couldn’t understand them anymore, and it wasn’t just hotels but airlines, too. So we reformed our program to make it the simplest, most aspirational program there is.”
“[Guests] see the value and they are engaging in it like never before,” Brodsky said. “We have people signing up for the program at the front desk because it’s just so simple to explain. We see that incredible engagement with the simplicity.”
He said, “People also realize the aspirational value and generosity of the program. If you look at what you need to earn in our top redemption places, we’re by far the most generous program out there.”
Increasing Social Awareness and Engagement
In addition to attracting more rewards members, Wyndham’s advertising campaigns that feature the Wyndham Rewards Wyzard, whether through traditional platforms like television and radio or digital platforms, is also giving the company a boost in terms of social awareness and engagement.
Since the new program and ad campaign launched on May 11, social engagement increased by 900 percent across all social platforms and the company saw an increase in social following of 148 percent. Wyndham has also awarded 516,000 points to fans who have engaged with the Wyndham through its various Wyndham Rewards channels, and the company has garnered 5.1 million video views on Facebook.
“The Wyndham Wyzard is a lot of fun and we’ve heard that overwhelmingly from our customers,” said Brodsky. “He has really broad appeal and there’s a definite excitement and energy coming from a younger Millennial crowd and we are seeing that in social activity. His role is to show people how simple and rewarding our program is, and that ties it back to our tagline, ‘You’ve earned this.’ It’s not about silly tricks. If you work hard and stay at hotels, you’ll have enough points for the dream vacation you want.”
Booking Direct, and Forecasting Savings for Members
Wyndham, like its competitors, including Hyatt, Marriott, and Hilton, is also jumping into the direct booking wars, offering low booking rates exclusively to its loyalty members. Wyndham Rewards members now receive a discount of up to 25 percent off the best available rate at participating hotels when they book direct at WyndhamRewards.com.
Brodksy said that although the hotel company is offering discounted rates for members who book direct, “Every reservation is important to us.” He said, “It’s critical that the lowest available cost is on Wyndham channels. Frankly, that way, there are the least amount of costs passed along to the hotel. When you take those middle costs out, the property wins and the guest wins.”
Through Oct. 31, Wyndham is also offering loyalty members a $100 gift card in Wyndham Rewards credit after two qualifying stays at any of Wyndham Hotel Group’s nearly 8,000 hotels around the world.
To announce the new summer promotions, the company also released two new commercials starring the Wyndham Rewards Wizard [below].
The hotel company is also looking to grow its appeal with families and guests who may be traveling to Six Flags theme parks this summer. Wyndham Rewards signed up to be the official national hotel partner to Six Flags. Members can get a $10 discount off of regular admission at any Six Flags theme park on normal operating days though Sept. 18 when they join or login to their accounts. At the park, Wyndham Rewards members also receive special coupons and discounts, and a special Wyndham Rewards event is scheduled to take place on July 14 at the parks.
Growing the rewards program is something Brodsky and his team are working on, and he said, “The best part of all the summer offers are just getting started. There’s more magic on the way, and exciting things are planned. Stay tuned.”
Photo credit: A still from Wyndham Hotel Group's newest advertisement featuring the Wyndham Rewards Wyzard. Wyndham Hotel Group / Wyndham