In 2015, Wyndham Hotel Group completely re-imagined the Wyndham Rewards loyalty program.
Lacking a strong value proposition to differentiate it from the competition, the company overhauled the program’s look and feel—introducing the Wyndham Rewards Wyzard—and completely changed the program’s mechanics. The premise was simple: Create a point of distinction by moving away from the trends of over complication and point devaluation that were happening elsewhere and use those to establish Wyndham Rewards as a leader in the space.
Eliot Hamlisch, VP Worldwide Loyalty and Partnerships at Wyndham Hotel Group (which earned a Gold Award for its Wyndham Rewards loyalty program in the Customer Insights category at last week’s Loyalty360 Customer Awards during the inaugural Customer Expo) talked about the program during a session titled, “Meet the Finalists: Q&A with the Loyalty360 Customer Award Finalists.”
“We’ve been on a three-year journey gleaning and responding to insights from our customers,” Hamlisch explained. “We asked what they wanted and they told us: something simple, attainable, aspirational, and generous. We built our program on the veracity of these core pillars and in doing so, the results have been outstanding.”
Wyndham’s customer research revealed that a free night was the absolute most important reward to its members and, yet, that same research overwhelmingly showed that most felt that reward was out of reach.
With the new program, Wyndham introduced a flat redemption rate of just 15,000 points per night at any of its more than 8,000 hotels and simultaneously made it so that members earned a minimum 1,000 points with every stay. With a move toward transparency, members knew exactly how many points they needed for a free night.
“We completely flipped the program on its head in 2015, and added more enhancements in 2016,” Hamlisch said. “Customer insights are at the core of our rebound. For us, it was about showing a willingness to not only listen to what customers were saying and but also a willingness to take action.”
Wyndham officials also knew that members wanted more options of “magical destinations” to stay and so, as a result, that 8,000 figure has more than tripled to more than 25,000 and now includes not only hotels, but vacation condos and homes as well.
Hamlisch added that successful brands have to be authentic but also show a “willingness to fail,” with an emphasis on learning from those missteps to grow and get better.
Since 2015, on-property member enrollments for Wyndham Rewards have increased by 55 percent—the program now has more than 53 million members worldwide—while award night redemptions have increased by more than 40 percent. What’s more, among the program’s thousands of reward options, award nights now account for more than 80 percent of all redemptions.
“Members not only stay twice as long as non-members, they spend nearly twice as much too,” Hamlisch said.
Hamlisch offered succinct advice for any brand moving toward a more customer-centric, authentic journey.
“Know your customer, keep it simple, and deliver real value,” he said.