Wyndham Rewards has undergone a major transformation in recent years, which has been accompanied by countless accolades. What’s more, the award-winning loyalty program just passed a serious and prodigious milestone: 50 million members.
Loyalty360 caught up with Noah Brodsky, senior vice president, worldwide loyalty and engagement at Wyndham Hotel Group, to find out his thoughts on eclipsing this milestone and the grand evolution of the loyalty program.
Wyndham’s loyalty program has demonstrated its uniqueness and engagement qualities in recent years. What does eclipsing 50 million members in the program mean to Wyndham and say about the driving principles it follows?
Brodsky: We view this milestone as further validation of the underlying fundamentals of our program: That members want a loyalty program that’s easy to understand, simple to use, and generous with its rewards. In the last two years, we’ve seen unprecedented growth in our membership and we don’t anticipate that to stop anytime soon.
Can you talk about the evolution of the loyalty program and how customer feedback has played a role in differentiating it from competitors?
Brodsky: A little under two years ago, we completely re-imagined our program. Prior to that, we were competing with others in the space, but we weren’t differentiating ourselves. We lacked a true brand identity and what’s more, a strong value proposition. When we re-launched the program, we changed all of that. We overhauled our branding—introducing the Wyndham Rewards Wyzard—and completely changed the mechanics of how the program works. Our premise was simple: Create a point of distinction by moving away from the trends of over complication and point devaluation that were happening elsewhere in our industry and use those to establish ourselves as a leader in the space.
We knew from customer research that a free night was the absolute most important reward to our members and, yet, that same research overwhelmingly showed that most felt that reward was out of reach. With the new program, we introduced a flat redemption rate of just 15,000 points per night at any of our 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, not tricks, members knew exactly how many points they needed for a free night and what they would have to do to earn those points. As a result, membership and redemptions have gone through the roof.
What are Wyndham’s goals for further evolution of the program in this distinctly mobile era?
Brodsky: We’re not one to rest on our laurels. Despite our success—most notably being named U.S. News and World Reports’ No. 1 hotel rewards program—we very much view ourselves as a challenger brand and continue to push for innovation. Most recently, that’s meant expanding Wyndham Rewards across not just hotels but Wyndham’s unmatched vacation ownership and vacation rental portfolio.
When it comes to our mobile efforts, the focus is on keeping true to who we are as a program and our promise of simplicity. With our current mobile app, members can do everything one would expect—from checking point balances to searching for hotels, booking, etc. We also have an incredibly innovative feature that is unique to our app known as “Booking Magic.” Designed to help travelers keep their eyes on the road rather than the app, it lets them schedule a call from our Member Services team at a later time or date. When that call comes through, our team uses the phone’s location to share nearby hotels and then make a reservation. Down the line, there’s a lot more opportunity for mobile—especially in the realm of personalization. From our perspective though, it’s a matter of balancing the latest technological advances with what makes sense for our members and our hotel owners.
What are you most proud of about the program?
Brodsky: Without question, taking a program that was a follower and, in just over a year, turning it into a leader. It’s not easy—especially when working with a program of our size—but it can be done. Our success is a testament to the passion and dedication of our team and what can happen when you’re not afraid to take risks.