When will the other big hotel companies like Marriott and Hilton begin to take the sharing economy more seriously?
When Hyatt announced its investment in Oasis in August, one of the first questions centered on loyalty: Would World of Hyatt members be able to earn and redeem their points by using the Oasis platform?
In October, Hyatt seemed to suggest that possibility was close to becoming a reality, as Skift reported.
Today, on the one-year anniversary of the debut of the World of Hyatt loyalty program, Hyatt announced that it added Oasis, a serviced home rentals platform, to the program. Now, more than 10 million active World of Hyatt members have the ability to both earn and redeem points at more than 2,000 homes spread out over 20 destinations worldwide on Oasis.
That makes Hyatt and its hotel peer, Wyndham, the only two major hotel companies that allow their respective loyalty members to earn and burn points on vacation rentals. AccorHotels, which bought luxury alternative accommodations platform Onefinestay in 2016, has yet to incorporate it into its own LeClub AccorHotels program. Airbnb has plans to launch its own loyalty program, called Superguest, this summer.
The loyalty connection between Hyatt and Oasis was a major part of the investment from the beginning.
“This is something that was part of the goal of the partnership with Hyatt from the start,” said Oasis founder and CEO Parker Stanberry. “It gives us the ability to make us stand out in the marketplace by having this type of partnership and raising awareness about the Oasis brand among Hyatt travelers, which is a great segment of more higher-end travelers.”
Oasis, unlike some of its alternative accommodations peers, is a hybrid between a hotel and a home with hotel-style amenities like an in-person check-in and on-demand concierge services. That is something its peers, including Airbnb, are just beginning to debut, as evidenced by the recent launch of Airbnb Plus, which includes some 2,000 verified homes in 13 destinations worldwide.
Because Oasis already incorporates many hospitality standards we’re used to seeing in hotels and checks for quality at each of its listings, it makes it that much easier for Oasis and Hyatt to ensure that they can deliver loyalty member benefits to its loyalty guests who stay in an Oasis home.
“We’ve got the on-the-ground team,” Stanberry said. “We’re going to the properties to do quality control and outfit them with something a little extra, and get creative with the local partnerships we have. There’s an ability to offer Hyatt top-tier members with extra benefits or access through those partners, and there’s a lot we can do on the customization and personalization front.”
And while being a part of World of Hyatt benefits a brand like Oasis in terms of customer reach and brand awareness, Hyatt benefits as well by expanding the company’s global footprint beyond the 719 hotels it has around the world. Compared to its hotel peers such as Wyndham, Marriott, and Hilton, Hyatt has a much smaller portfolio of hotels.
“This is a really good play, given that Hyatt is a 700-property chain in the world now where there aren’t a lot of those anymore,” said Gary Leff, a travel blogger and loyalty expert who writes for View From the Wing. “Their competitors are all several times their size. With this, they can subsequently expand the footprint with which they are relevant to consumers, and it makes good strategic sense.”
In particular, Oasis offers accommodations in destinations where Hyatt is underrepresented or has no hotels, such as Barcelona, Ibiza, Punta del Este in Uruguay, Rome, and Trancoso, Brazil.
Amy Weinberg, senior vice president of the World of Hyatt program, said a recent interaction with a loyalty member reminded her of the value of having a brand like Oasis as part of Hyatt’s loyalty program.
“We had a member who was disappointed he didn’t have a Hyatt hotel to stay in in Barcelona, and we talked about Oasis,” Weinberg recalled. “The difference between Oasis and other alternative accommodations providers out there is that service extending into the stay, that high-touch service, and that guest services team. It gave that member the confidence to consider it other than an alternative hotel and that’s what we’re looking to solve and serve here with this partnership.”
The variety of homes available through Oasis is also wide ranging: from studios to villas. Stanberry said it’s not uncommon for travelers to find one-bedroom homes as low as $110 per night to villas that may cost $4,000 to $5,000 a night, but he did note that most Oasis homes range from $150 to $250 per night for a one-bedroom and $250 to $600 a night for a multi-bedroom house.
But will business travelers, many of whom are valued loyalty members for any hotel company, be open to staying in an Oasis home versus a traditional hotel?
Weinberg and Stanberry, not surprisingly, believe they will be, especially if they’re “business travelers who want to live like a local,” or those who have longer work stays or assignments, said Weinberg.
Hyatt classifies Oasis as a part of The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, a soft brand collection that Hyatt debuted in 2016. When the company first announced The Unbound Collection by Hyatt, it placed particular emphasis on the fact that this would be a brand that wouldn’t necessarily limit itself to just hotels. The addition of Oasis to The Unbound Collection by Hyatt is a perfect example of that. To date, there are six hotels in the collection.
“Being able to have a way to engage our members in more places around the world and on occasion where their needs go beyond a hotel is really core to this partnership, and the goal of being able to really meet the needs of our members,” Weinberg said. “I’m very much looking forward to our members engaging with Oasis and the program and continue to grow our relationships there.”
Stanberry, for his part, sees this partnership as an “interesting next evolution of traditional hospitality and what that means, and these newer models like Oasis are finding common ground and complementariness with traditional hospitality models. This is a pretty unique and collaborative example of that.”
World of Hyatt, One Year Later
When World of Hyatt debuted last year, some long-time Hyatt elite members decried the changes in the program, and Leff said those members were justified in their concerns.
However, he said, since the launch last March, World of Hyatt has begun to address the issues brought up by its elite members. “They clearly found they were thinning the elite pools too much,” Leff said. “They addressed a few pain points but there are still some gaps. … It remains a work in progress.”
To that point, Weinberg said that Hyatt “continues to evolve the program” and “the integration of Oasis is a great opportunity for us to create differentiation.”
Earlier this week, Hyatt also announced the promotion of Mark Vondrasek to chief commercial officer after serving as the company’s executive vice president and global head of loyalty and new business platforms. Vondrasek’s appointment was part of a larger leadership restructuring that involved the elimination of Hyatt’s chief marketing officer position.
Weinberg said the leadership change shouldn’t impact its loyalty program in any way.
“Hyatt is continuing its focus on high-end travelers and its brand focus,” she said. “It doesn’t change with the organizational change. The organizational change affords us an opportunity to collaborate even more and will bring us even more value through centralized, commercialized services. Personally, I’m very excited about the changes, and loyalty and brands will always stay at the forefront.”
Vondrasek and Weinberg, both of whom worked for a number of years at Starwood Hotels & Resorts and its Starwood Preferred Guest Program (SPG), are no doubt bringing their SPG experiences to their new roles at Hyatt.
One such feature for which SPG was widely known for trailblazing in loyalty space was the access to special SPG Moments, or experiences, and Weinberg said World of Hyatt members can and should expect even more experiences beyond just hotels going forward.
“Without getting into specifics,” Weinberg said, “the continued exploration into caring for our members and their wellbeing and how we do that in extension with Unbound and experiences we bring will also be something you see in the future.”
The Specific Loyalty Benefits
Beginning today, World of Hyatt members who stay at an Oasis home rental receive five base points per eligible dollar spent on qualifying Oasis nights and the ability to earn tier-qualifying nights. Elite members also earn bonus points on eligible Oasis spending and they can request late check-out. Loyalty members who also have a Hyatt-branded credit card also earn three bonus points for eligible spending at Oasis. Until June 30, members can also earn 1,000 bonus points per qualifying night on top of the base points they’ve earned when they stay with Oasis.
To redeem points for an Oasis stay, World of Hyatt members can get a $200 credit for every 15,000 points they redeem, and elite members will receive a welcome amenity when they check into their Oasis home.
So, how does the partnership stack up for loyalty members? Leff said that while the partnership is “great,” “there’s not much to get excited about” for elite members in terms of recognition. He also noted that fixed-value rebates “don’t offer the chance for members to ‘win’ at the points game” and noted that Wyndham Rewards, for example, lets its members redeem 15,000 points per bedroom per home, cottage or condo.
Tags: hyatt, loyalty, world of hyatt
Photo credit: World of Hyatt loyalty members can now earn and redeem their points to stay with Oasis, an upscale homesharing platform. Oasis/Hyatt