In the wake of Tuesday’s cancellation of Wyndham Rewards’ exclusive 12-hour opportunity for Starwood SPG loyalty members, Loyalty360 sought the views of some companies that are members of its Association.

Wyndham Rewards’ unprecedented promotional attempt to offer a 12-hour window (noon EDT to 11:59 p.m. EDT) on Tuesday for SPG members to swap their points at a 4 to 1 ratio, plus receive a status level match, ultimately failed due to fraudulent activity.

Besides offering a 4 to 1 points tradeup to SPG members, the Wyndham Rewards offer included a status level match when members donated their “other” points to charity.

In a recent survey, Wyndham Rewards was acknowledged as offering the Best Payback among leading hotel loyalty programs, while Starwood’s loyalty program reward value was more than two times lower.

So, was Wyndham’s creative temporary campaign a good idea?

Kevin Nix, CEO and co-founder of Stellar Loyalty, told Loyalty360 that Wyndham’s Tradeup program is a good example for brands to carefully think through all the ramifications of a competitive replacement campaign.

“Wyndham missed a great opportunity to talk about the benefits of its program and properties, rather than lure consumers away via a complex trade,” Nix explained. “Consumers interested in competitive points trade programs are often seeking a way to game the system versus becoming more loyal to the brand.”
Nix believes the offer’s intent was worthy.

“Certainly, donating points to charity is an admirable idea,” he added. “Many brands have incorporated this idea as part of their own loyalty programs. However, I think trying to bribe consumers away with a competitive trade out is a bad idea, in principle. The consumers you are attracting are more concerned with the points economy, than becoming truly loyal customers.”

Officials for Wyndham Rewards released the following statement during the early afternoon on Tuesday:

“Today’s Wyndham Rewards trade up was offered in the spirit of generosity,” the statement reads. “Before the offer even began, there were obvious and significant examples of fraud. Much to our dismay and disappointment, we have to cancel this promotion. We will, however, make a donation of 5 million Wyndham Rewards points to charity as the work they do on behalf of others is real magic.”

Wyndham Rewards is the only program in the world to offer its members a free-night stay at any of its nearly 8,000 hotels for a flat 15,000 points with no blackout dates.

Wyndham Rewards officials were saddened by the cancellation.

“We know some had the best intentions, and we want to reward them with what they’ve earned,” the statement reads. “Anyone who believes they’ve met all of the terms and conditions may reach out to us at [email protected] and we will arrange a time to contact them for additional verification. We’re sad to have to cancel this promotion, but remain dedicated to winning travelers’ loyalty.”

Chirpify CEO Chris Teso offered his view about the canceled promotion.

“Points are definitely an appreciated commodity,” Teso told Loyalty360. “However, they are not an end-all, be-all to a growing number of consumers who want to feel appreciated and rewarded for deeper engagement with the brands they do business with. And, that is especially true for ‘everyday travelers’, as Wyndham describes the infrequent travelers they were targeting with this campaign, as their brand contacts are more likely to be memorable than frequent travelers.”

While Wyndham’s point exchange program was very generous, Teso said, there are other things it can do to elevate its program in the minds of everyday travelers, from encouraging new program member acquisition by rewarding existing members for advocating on behalf of the brand, to engagement loyalty conversion activities online.

“These programs should illustrate Wyndham’s commitment to making it easy to do business with them and how they appreciate everyday travelers,” Teso added. “In doing so, Wyndham will create a virtual snowball of new customer acquisition, engagement, participation, and advocacy that grows earned media and enhances existing and new customer loyalty.”

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