Skift Take

Hyatt just launched another partnership for its loyalty program, signaling an interest in expanding further into the business of experiences.

The World of Hyatt announced the upcoming ability for members to earn and redeem points on apartment rentals via a service called Oasis several days ago, and now it is expanding once more to partner with IfOnly, which specializes in booking “experiences.”

Founded in 2012, IfOnly, which has parallels to Airbnb Experiences, offers tours such as wine tastings or sailing trips that are posted online. It effectively connects travelers and tourists directly with operators. So far, the startup has raised over $25 million from high- profile investors like former Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, the Winkelvoss twins of Facebook fame, and Sotheby’s.

With the new partnership, World of Hyatt loyalty program members will now be able to earn points on purchased IfOnly experiences and also use points to book entire trips. A “Two-Hour Introduction to Drone Flying with a Top Bay Area Drone Pilot,” for example, which typically costs $300 per person, can be redeemed for 38,000 World of Hyatt points. Or if a traveler chooses to pay with cash, three points will be earned per dollar spent, yielding 900 points for this activity.

This isn’t the first time that Hyatt has attempted to expand into experiences with its loyalty program. In April, the group teamed with Afar Experiences to offer custom tours through Tokyo. So far, however, that’s the only collaboration that Hyatt and Afar have forged.

Even so, Hyatt’s continued experimentation with tours and activities is an indication that it’s willing to expand the scope of its loyalty program. Both Starwood and Hilton, among others, currently host tours that can be booked with loyalty points.

And as the relatively new World of Hyatt program takes shape, there’s no doubt that Hyatt is looking for a similar framework.

Where Hyatt may ultimately land may be wider in scope than a simple tours and activities booking portal. Earlier this year, Hilton enabled functionality for its Honors loyalty program members to make Amazon purchases with points. By turning its members’ loyalty balances into a form of currency, Hilton was able to dramatically expand the scope and utility of its program. Hyatt, no doubt, is exploring a similar trajectory.

As built, the Hyatt-IfOnly partnership is slated to last through the end of January 2018 with experiences offered in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Las Vegas and Miami.

— Grant Martin

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Tags: hyatt, loyalty, tours and activities

Photo credit: Hyatt is adding more tours and activities options to its loyalty program because it wants guests to 'never stop exploring.' Hyatt

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