Weeks after its unsuccessful attempt to attract Starwood Preferred Guest members away from Marriott Rewards and SPG, Wyndham Rewards is announcing a major expansion to its loyalty program in an effort to boost its membership numbers.
Starting today, Wyndham Rewards members can now choose to redeem their points at Wyndham’s portfolio of 25,000 hotels, vacation rentals, and timeshares.
Previously, the loyalty program was limited to Wyndham Worldwide’s Hotel Group portfolio of 8,000 hotels. Now, however, loyalty members can redeem their Wyndham Rewards points for stays at an additional 17,000 condos and homes that are part of the Wyndham Vacation Ownership and Wyndham Destination Network. Together, this represents approximately 21 percent of Wyndham Worldwide’s total global portfolio of 120,000 places to stay.
“No one was more disappointed we had to cancel that [SPG promotion] than we were,” Noah Brodskly, Wyndham’s senior VP of worldwide loyalty and engagement, told Skift. “We made good on the offer to everyone who played by the rules and that made for some very happy Wyndham Rewards members. We’re continuing to focus on making this the best program in the world for travelers and this new program really sets us apart from the competition.”
With the addition of these new accommodations, Wyndham Rewards isn’t making any major changes to its foundational flat redemption rate of 15,000 points, something not generally offered in most hotel loyalty programs. Members can still redeem a free hotel night for 15,000 points and if they want to redeem for a condo or home, the rate is 15,000 points per bedroom, per night. So, a two-bedroom condo or home could be redeemed for a 30,000 points per night.
For the moment, earning points is still limited to hotel stays. By early summer of next year, Wyndham Rewards expects its members will be able to earn points on condo and home stays at the initial 17,000 homes and condos that have been added to its program. By the end of 2018, the company hopes to have full integration across most of Wyndham’s entire portfolio of timeshares, vacation rentals, and hotels.
The addition of vacation rentals and timeshares to the Wyndham Rewards program has been a part of the program’s overall evolution since Wyndham relaunched its loyalty program in 2015. When Wyndham debuted its newly revamped loyalty program, it adopted a simpler, more straightforward approach to loyalty and has continued to build upon that by adding elite tiers, the ability to redeem for experiences, and now, the ability to stay in homes and condos. Brodsky said Wyndham Rewards had planned to include the majority of Wyndham Worldwide’s portfolio since it debuted the new loyalty program 18 months ago.
When the revamped program debuted, Wyndham Rewards had approximately 40 to 41 million members and now the program has 48 million.
The addition of homes and condos also gives Wyndham Rewards an advantage in attracting travelers who might otherwise be looking for home-like accommodations on platforms such as Airbnb or HomeAway.
“We realized we have a real competitive advantage with the portfolio that Wyndham Worldwide has built over the past decade across the vacation rental and ownership space,” Brodsky added. “To tie it together with Wyndham Rewards gives us a great additional reason for consumers to stay with us for any travel they might be doing.”
The Wyndham Rewards program has been garnering some attention lately for its value for members. Earlier this month, it was named the top program in a survey conducted by IdeaWorks Company. That survey compared Wyndham Rewards to five other global hotel loyalty programs and found that Wyndham’s program gave customers an average reward payback of $13.60 for every $100 spent.
By comparison, SPG’s payback was only $5.60 and Marriott Rewards’ was $9. Wyndham rewarded customers, on average, 146 percent more than SPG, which was ranked last.
Earlier this year, Wyndham Rewards was also ranked No. 1 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of the best hotel loyalty programs, beating Marriott, which had previously been the top program since 2013, when the rankings were first released.