First Free Story (1 of 3)Join Skift Pro
It’s been a busy season for Hyatt and its loyalty program, World of Hyatt. After a quiet summer, the group appointed Mark Vondrasek, who came from the Starwood Preferred Guest program, to oversee all of loyalty and new business platforms at the hotel empire. Now, Amy Weinberg is joining the team to officially lead World of Hyatt.
Prior to joining Hyatt, Weinberg worked for 12 years as the senior vice president of consumer insights for Starwood, overlapping significantly with Vondrasek’s tenure. And now that Starwood’s loyalty program is slowly melting into Marriott’s, it’s a good move for Hyatt to start vacuuming up talent.
What’s still unclear is whether Starwood’s legacy will affect Hyatt and its loyalty program. Over the years, SPG has earned a cult following among business travelers for its strong partner program, wide variety of hotels and co-branded credit card — which allowed for easy point accrual.
Hyatt, no doubt, would also like to reach this level of fandom with its loyalty base, but its loyalty program may be impeding that progress. Until recently, Hyatt’s loyalty program (formerly Gold Passport) enjoyed great popularity with mainstream business travelers thanks to relatively easy goals for elite status and room upgrades.
Earlier this year, however, Hyatt drastically overhauled Gold Passport, along with rebranding to World of Hyatt. Among other changes, the updated program prioritized revenue when calculating elite status, a move that ended up roiling a good portion of Hyatt’s more thrifty loyalty program members. Even today, bloggers continue to poke holes through World of Hyatt’s loyalty program as it struggles to find traction.
Like all three legacy air carriers that moved to revenue-forward programs in the last two years, World of Hyatt may just need to hold its ground and wait for a stronger and smaller loyalty base to ossify. And as newer travelers transition eventually into the elite ranks, that may pay off; multiple studies show that tomorrow’s loyalty program needs to better cater to younger travelers and have multiple redemption options.
But with Marriott/Starwood and Hilton abstaining from revenue-based programs for 2018, and an unsettled base at World of Hyatt, it’s impossible to ignore that changes — even microscopic — need to be made. In Hyatt’s earnings call last week, CEO Mark Hoplamazian even foreshadowed this when saying that the new team “bring[s] tremendous depth of experience in taking consumer info and data and translating that into initiatives that really add value to the program,” adding, “You can expect to see some changes over the next year as they spool up their efforts.” The tide, it seems, may quickly be turning at World of Hyatt.
— Grant Martin
Skift Stories and More Expert Insight
Singapore Airlines Unveils a Massive First-Class Suite to Compete with Gulf Rivals: Singapore Airlines introduced a massive new suite for 19 Airbus A380s, including five new aircraft set to arrive soon from Airbus. The first airplane with the new product will debut December 18 on the Singapore-Syndey route, though the airline does not expect every A380 to have the new update until 2020.
Marriott CEO Argues Trump Is Driving Conference Business Out of U.S. to Canada: Divisive language and policies from President Donald Trump are helping push business travelers north of the border, the head of Marriott International Inc. said on Wednesday.
Marriott Rewards Debuts Tool to Preload Points Balances When Shopping at Retail Sites: Big-name brands such as Marriott, Hilton and United are taking their respective loyalty programs into the retail space as they explore a broader use for point balances beyond free hotel rooms or airline tickets.
A Look at Post 11/1 United Award Chart Changes: New award rates just kicked in at United Airlines.
Air France Will Announce Total Revamp of Frequent Flyer Program: Two years ago Air France said revenue-based changes like Delta’s were coming along with a reduction in benefits for silver elites. Although they said it might not happen until the first quarter of 2018. Last month changes were leaked on Air France’s website including the rate at which customers would earn miles based on the cost of a ticket.
Delta’s A350 Enters Service: On Board the First Flight: Delta Air Lines is, once again, a three-cabin airline. The carrier launched service on its new flagship A350 aircraft this week with an updated Delta One business class cabin and a pleasant enough economy class. The aircraft also includes the company’s new Premium Select-branded premium economy service, bringing a true third class back in to service. As expected, the pomp surrounding the new aircraft was impressive.