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The first day of the 2019 Loyalty Expo saw Eliot Hamlisch, Senior Vice President of Worldwide Loyalty & Partnerships for Wyndham, take the stage in Sheraton Charlotte Hotel’s Symphony Ballroom. Hamlisch discussed the relaunch of his brand’s loyalty program and took questions from fellow Expo attendees.
He introduced his brand, pointing out that, given the scale of Wyndham (over 9,000 hotels worldwide, under 20 brands), Wyndham Rewards serves “just north of 75 million members,” and is therefore one of the world’s most used loyalty programs. Hamlisch’s role with the company sees him dividing his time between running Wyndham Rewards and maintaining the many partnerships on which the program relies.
“We completely revamped our loyalty program back in 2015,” he said, “becoming the first in the industry to have a single, flat redemption option. We went to just one redemption tier, 15,000 points, which got our members a free hotel night at any of our [then] 7,000 hotels.”
That revamp saw great success, but Hamlisch and team decided not to rest on their laurels. They “saw a great opportunity to evolve the program based on an evolving hotel portfolio, evolving demographics of membership-base” and felt that they had gained new, actionable insights during the years that immediately followed the relaunch.
Hamlisch described himself as a “data geek,” and noted that enhancements to the program were generally based on the qualitative and quantitative customer data that the brand had gathered.
“We wanted to increase flexibility,” he said. “We wanted to increase attainability, and we wanted to create more optionality.” The program evolved from one tier to three, enabling Wyndham travelers to get rewards more quickly and more easily.
The program’s evolution also saw a host of new partnerships. Notably, Wyndham Rewards members can now get free delivery from DoorDash when they’re staying at one of the brand’s properties.
Hamlisch indicated that Wyndham Rewards will evolve in perpetuity. The brand’s customers (and the behaviors of those customers) will inevitably change over the course of time, so the program must adapt if it is to continue to be effective and successful. He affirmed that frequent and passionate member engagement is the key sign that a program is working.
Loyalty360’s Mark Johnson asked audience members to raise their hands if their brand has revamped its loyalty program in the last year or plans to revamp in the coming year. Almost every Expo attendee had a hand in the air.
The loyalty landscape is always changing. It’s good to see that programs like Wyndham Rewards (and many others) are keeping pace with changing customers.
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