Skift Take

This makes a ton of sense for World of Hyatt, but again will scale prove to be a challenge for Hyatt and for Exhale?

A little more than a year after buying wellness brand Exhale for an undisclosed amount, Hyatt is now integrating it into its World of Hyatt loyalty program.

Starting Thursday, World of Hyatt loyalty members can earn and redeem points for any fitness class and spa treatments they book at 20 participating Exhale locations in the U.S. and the Caribbean, and they’ll also enjoy elite-tier level benefits.

Hyatt always intended to add Exhale into its loyalty program. “Since last year when Hyatt acquired Exhale, we’ve always been looking at ways to take care of our members and guests so they can be at their best,” said Amy Weinberg, senior vice president of World of Hyatt.

“It’s a unique first for World of Hyatt and the fitness and spa industry because they are rewarding connected guests for experiences outside of traditional hotel stays,” said Annbeth Eschbach, CEO and co-founder of Exhale. “Exhale guests and members can earn toward their next Hyatt vacation, or next Exhale visit on vacation or at home. A connected Exhale member can earn five hotel nights in just one year. It’s a real rewarding loyalty program.”

Doubling Down on Wellness and Hyatt’s Overall Partnership-Based Loyalty Strategy

The integration of Exhale into World of Hyatt follows Hyatt’s previous forays into the wellness space.

In January 2017, Hyatt purchased the Miraval Group, a wellness resort and a spa company, for $375 million and later integrated it into its World of Hyatt loyalty program in June, 2017. In August, 2017, Hyatt bought Exhale.

In July 2018, World of Hyatt launched FIND, a well-being-oriented experiences marketplace, and a month later, the company appointed Mia Kyricos as its new senior vice president and global head of wellbeing to spearhead the company’s wellbeing strategy.

The newly launched World of Hyatt credit card also includes a fitness bonus category that rewards members for purchases on fitness club and gym memberships.

At last week’s Skift Global Forum in New York, Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian said: “We also have a significant effort around wellbeing” and he noted that Hyatt is also embarking on a 6,000-person pilot focused on well-being practices.

“We don’t look through the lens specifically as being a hotel company. Our holistic sense of wellbeing was really a big part of that,” Hoplamazian added. “A lot of companies are turning to mindful practices to help people be healthier. We’re looking to try to embed a mindful approach to nutrition, exercise, and mental well-being as well.”

In addition to focusing on wellness and wellbeing, the World of Hyatt loyalty program also seems very driven by forming partnerships, whether with brands like Miraval or Exhale, or the now-defunct integration with luxury private accommodations platform Oasis, which is now owned by Vacasa, a property management company. Most recently, it announced a loyalty partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a collection of independent luxury hotels around the world.

Can World of Hyatt Compete With Other Travel Loyalty Platforms?

The loyalty integration between Hyatt and Exhale might be a first for the spa and fitness industry, but it won’t be the only one, presumably.

When Equinox Hotels opens its first of many planned locations, it’s likely that Equinox will also draw on its parent company’s other fitness brands, which also include Pure Yoga, Soul Cycle, Blink Fitness, and Equinox Fitness if it decides to launch a loyalty program of some kind. In Equinox’s case, however, it will have more fitness locations than hotel properties at first, which is the opposite situation for Hyatt and Exhale. Today’s news that Equinox is launching its own luxury tour product also suggests that the company will, like Hyatt and other hospitality brands, look for ways to offer its members more experiences beyond the traditional hotel, or fitness, experience.

Another challenge for Hyatt and Exhale is the fact that Exhale has a relatively small footprint for locations — as does Hyatt, in comparison to its hotel peers such as Hilton and Marriott. Only 20 Exhale locations are participating in the loyalty integration, and while Exhale didn’t disclose the number of members it has, Eschbach said Exhale has more than a million visits over the course of a year, half of which are from Exhale members and half which are “a la carte” guests.

Hyatt itself has approximately 750 hotels worldwide and 10 million loyalty members. Marriott, by comparison, has more than 6,700 hotels and more than 110 million members in its loyalty program.

“Again, there’s nothing like this when you think of those organizations,” said Weinberg. “We are very excited about being the first to extend rewarding our members and Exhale guests for practicing wellbeing on a daily basis. It’s unlike anything else.”

Weinberg and Eschbach both added that Hyatt and Exhale did extensive consumer research to find out how best to craft the loyalty benefits for this integration and to make it as rewarding as possible for both World of Hyatt members and Exhale guests and members.

And Eschbach noted that the brand is looking to grow, and well as further integrate itself into Hyatt programming on property. She noted that in June, the first Exhale location within a Hyatt property opened in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

And on October 8, Exhale on Demand, a streaming video platform that offers Exhale fitness and mindfulness and meditation classes, will also be available in more than 19,000 Hyatt Place and Hyatt Regency hotel rooms in the U.S. for guests to access. It’s part of a test pilot program that will also include the introduction of Exhale “fit kits” that guests can borrow at select Hyatt Regency properties that will include on-demand videos, fitness equipment, and an offer code for an Exhale On Demand subscription. Exhale on Demand subscriptions are not yet a part of the loyalty integration between Exhale and World of Hyatt, however, so members cannot earn or redeem points with Exhale on Demand.

How the Exhale Integration Works

World of Hyatt members must link their World of Hyatt accounts to their Exhale accounts online in order to start earning and redeeming. Here’s a quick look at how earning and redemption works at participating Exhale locations:

  • World of Hyatt members earn 10 Base Points per eligible dollar spent at participating Exhale locations
  • World of Hyatt credit card holders will earn four Bonus Points per eligible dollar spent on their card at participating Exhale locations
  • Hyatt Credit card holder will earn three Bonus Points per eligible dollar spent on their card at participating Exhale locations
  • World of Hyatt members will receive their standard tier Bonus Points on eligible spend (10% Discoverist, 20% Explorist, 30% Globalist)
  • World of Hyatt members can redeem points for individual fitness classes or select spa treatments
  • Members can redeem 2,000 World of Hyatt points for fitness classes
  • Members can redeem 12,000 World of Hyatt points for a 60-minute massage or a 60-minute facial
  • World of Hyatt Globalists get complimentary access to individual Exhale classes when staying at Hyatt hotels on an Eligible Rate or Free Night Award, Room Upgrade Award, or a Points + Cash Award as well as one free Week of Wellbeing (unlimited fitness classes and retail/spa discounts at a participating Exhale location)
  • World of Hyatt Explorists get one free Week of Wellbeing (unlimited fitness classes and retail/spa discounts at a participating Exhale location)

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Tags: exhale, hyatt, Skift Wellness, wellness, world of hyatt

Photo credit: World of Hyatt is integrating spa and fitness brand Exhale into its loyalty program. Exhale/Hyatt

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