Thinking Beyond the Traditional Customer Experience at Hyatt

Mark Vondrasek recently joined Hyatt as its executive vice president, global head of loyalty & new business platforms. In this newly created position, Vondrasek will direct Hyatt’s integrated experience strategy, which currently includes the World of Hyatt loyalty platform as well as Hyatt’s wellness initiatives, including Miraval and Exhale. Vondrasek will also be charged with creating and scaling new business opportunities, products, and services

Vondrasek joins Hyatt with more than 25 years of experience in building strong brands through the effective integration of marketing and operations. Most recently, he spent 15 years in leadership roles at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the latest of which as senior vice president and commercial services officer. In that position, Vondrasek was responsible for the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program, 10 customer contact centers, mobile applications, digital initiatives, business-to-business sales strategy, revenue management, and sales. During his tenure at Starwood, he spearheaded many of the company’s most successful loyalty initiatives and oversaw Starwood’s strategic marketing partnerships. Vondrasek also held previous roles at Northern Trust, Fidelity Investments, and Kemper Financial Services.

Loyalty360 talked to Vondrasek about his new role and about the task of deepening loyalty engagement beyond traditional hotel stays.

Vondrasek realizes that deepening loyalty engagement poses a big challenge.

“The best organizations that understand loyalty get the fact that you have to think beyond the traditional experience,” Vondrasek explained. “Hyatt has always been a great organization that takes tremendous care of its guests. Where the puck is going in loyalty is truly understanding other facets of what matters to people. How do you cement loyalty and bring these experiences to them in non-traditional ways?”

Wellness is a vertical area that Hyatt officials have invested in and believe can serve as a differentiator in the area of customer experience and, ultimately, brand loyalty. Hyatt officials are focused on the high-end traveler and they identified wellness as an important area for those guests.

“We are looking for ways to bring across those experiential offerings into the daily lives of our member base and cement greater loyalty,” Vondrasek said. “We’re starting with wellness and what I like about that vertical is you’ll see us expand into that realm, first and foremost.”

Hyatt officials are, in part, looking at customer loyalty through the lens of wellness and extending beyond.

“If we know there are other passions that are really important to our members, we’ll look to become experts and bring those to our membership as well,” Vondrasek said. “Staying in the wellness lane is what we heard from our members, something they care about and think about.”

Wellness, Vondrasek said, seems like a “natural extension of the Hyatt brand where we could be most authentic. They expect more from us in this space, too, when we integrate with the organizations we purchased. We want to integrate the right experiences. People have choices. This is a competitive space. You have to understand them as individuals.”

Listening to and understanding customers play a major role in the customer loyalty piece at Hyatt.

“It’s a big part of what we do,” Vondrasek said. “We have a set of members we speak to on a regular basis at various points of their journey with Hyatt. We’re looking to strengthen that. Having your finger on the pulse of members allows you to be member-led. We want to know what really matters to our members. You have to continually challenge yourself with what’s next and what really matters. Customers’ needs change today. What they expect to do through a mobile app or handheld device is very different from 15 years ago. Staying a step ahead starts with understanding and appreciating the people who want to interact with us.”

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