Hyatt announced a new Global Head of Loyalty this morning. Here’s my open letter to Mark Vondrasek, who spent 15 years working for Starwood in a similar role.
Dear Mr. Vondrasek,
Welcome to Hyatt. I congratulate you on your new appointment and wish you tremendous success in your new role.
Your experience at Starwood will be valuable, though Hyatt’s far smaller global footprint must be carefully weighed as you transition to World of Hyatt.
I’m one of your most loyal customers, a Globalist member who spends two months per year inside a Hyatt hotel room. I care deeply about Hyatt, both as a travel writer and an affected customer.
My Three Suggestions for Making Hyatt Great Again
The press release announcing your new position states one of your roles will be “creating and scaling new business opportunities, products and services.”
While this sounds promising, the devil is always in the details. My advice is threefold. First, focus on rewarding hotel loyalty. Perhaps that goes without saying, but at the core of loyalty is a simple cost/benefit proposition that seems miscalculated by many policy choices (such as mid-tier benefits) of the World of Hyatt Program. Second, work on your loyalty website. Its functionality constraints on both the front-end and back-end annoy customers. Third, always be honest with members. Sometimes cuts are necessary and they should never be sugarcoated as positive enhancements.
Your boss, Mark Hoplamazian, stated–
We are fortunate to welcome a leader with a reputation for transformation who can accelerate Hyatt’s loyalty platform, advance innovative products and expand Hyatt’s partnerships. This work is critical to our experience-based growth strategy and will deepen the relationship we have with our existing guests as well as expand our base of customers.
Expanding partnerships and offering innovative products is a good thing. I look forward to staying in the Miraval Resort later this year, a promising new addition to the Hyatt portfolio. But just remember when using the world “transformation” that Gold Passport was the most beloved hotel loyalty program for many years.
Also in the press release, you stated–
I’m eager to collaborate with the amazing team Mark has built to accelerate the forward momentum powered by World of Hyatt, the company’s movement into wellness and other opportunities to expand beyond traditional hotel stays.
Again, this is an innovative approach to loyalty. While I have my doubts to whether this is a wise use of resources, I hope you find great success in it. But just don’t neglect the little things like suite upgrades or even being able to pull up old folios online. That builds loyalty too.
Congrats again on the new position.
Don’t know Mark Vondrasek? Here’s what he’s most proud of at Starwood–