We’re very optimistic about our Hyatt (and Chase!) points after our conversation with Mark Vondrasek, Hyatt’s new leader of their loyalty program.
Earlier this week, I wrote how former Starwood executive, Mark Vondrasek, will now oversee the World of Hyatt loyalty program.
With this new hire, I know lots of readers are eager to see if there will be upcoming changes to award charts or elite status perks. So I asked team member Scott to chat on the phone with Mark.
Q&A With Hyatt’s New Global Head of Loyalty
Earlier this year, Hyatt made several major changes to their loyalty program with the introduction of World of Hyatt. That said, this is only Mark’s first week on the job, so we didn’t expect to hear a progress report on the current program or learn about any specific near-term changes to the Hyatt program.
That said, we got great insight about the Hyatt loyalty philosophy and what we can expect going forward!
Mr. Vondrasek’s commitment is evident. And you can tell Hyatt is counting on his vision because he reports directly to Hyatt’s CEO!
1. Loyalty Is About More Than Just Points
Mark told team member Scott that guest loyalty is a top priority for Hyatt. He emphasized that the Hyatt award program shouldn’t just be about earning points and redeeming them for free nights.
Instead, he believes the loyalty program can create experiences and offers that solve pain points for frequent guests. To that end, measuring and analyzing loyalty through growth of new members, focus groups, and social media can be important factors for evolving the program.
My takeaway was Mark wants Hyatt to be top of mind, even when you’re not staying at their hotels.
And here’s one way that can happen…
2. Grow and Expand Loyalty Through Hyatt’s Recent Wellness Program Investments
Mark mentioned he’s excited for Hyatt guests because of the chain’s recent Exhale Spa and Miraval acquisitions. It’s possible you might see elements of these wellness programs during a future hotel stay.
For example, Exhale Spa offers a variety of fitness classes (like yoga) and spa treatments at different studios in the US and the Caribbean. To me, offering Hyatt loyalty members deals on memberships or classes could be a great way to introduce them to the Hyatt brand.
3. Feedback From Loyalty Members Can Lead to Changes!
At Starwood, Mark says he’s most proud of the fact that the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program was member driven. Initiatives at Starwood, like keyless check-in and Your24, were the result of ideas that came from guests.
I look forward to see how Mark and his team listen to guests and bring a collaborative approach to the World of Hyatt program.
Sure, most executives say they’ll listen. But I really believe Mark is genuine. He has a fantastic track record from his work on Starwood’s loyalty program. And he’s talking and listening to bloggers like us within his first couple of days on the job!
4. Potential for Technology Improvements
Thanks to suggestions from Million Mile Secrets team members, Scott offered Mark a few potential improvements Hyatt might consider for folks who use points to book stays.
For example, you currently have to search specific dates on the Hyatt website to find out if there are available award nights. It would be nice if the website was similar to Starwood, which lets you see view a 2-month award calendar.
Mark says making technology improvements like this are something he’ll definitely look into.
5. Mid-Tier Elite Status Perks
Our interview took place on Mark’s second day on the job. But he said he’s already heard feedback about offering additional perks (like free breakfast) to folks with mid-tier Explorist status.
All guests already enjoy free breakfast at Hyatt House and Hyatt Place hotels. But it would be fantastic to get a free (or discounted) delicious made-to-order breakfast at hotels like the Park Hyatt New York, like team member Jasmin did!
Mark says he’s committed to looking into potential positives changes to reward folks with elite status.
Team member Scott’s 1-on-1 chat with Hyatt’s new head of loyalty, Mark Vondrasek gives us a great feeling about the future of Hyatt.
Although it’s just his first week on the job, the main takeaway was Hyatt wants to truly listen to customers (and opinionated bloggers like us!) and deliver a relevant, useful loyalty program that makes folks happy with their stays.
We’re excited to see how Mark will innovate the loyalty program. He wants to keeps the hotel chain top of mind even when you’re not staying at their hotels. There’s potential to do this with wellness initiatives thanks to Hyatt’s acquisitions of Exhale Spa and Miraval.
Mark knows transparency is very important when it comes to changes to the loyalty program. This was encouraging to hear!
Thank you to Mark for taking the time to speak with us!
What are some near-term changes you’d like to see Hyatt make to the World of Hyatt program?