Hyatt Hotels Has Hired The Next Person Who Will Run World of Hyatt Loyalty Program

A couple of weeks ago Hyatt announced that they had hired Mark Vondrasek as Executive Vice President, global head of loyalty & new business platforms.  It was interesting, in that it elevated the position of “head of loyalty” to a higher level.  Previously, the head of the loyalty program reported to the head of marketing.

Mark is a veteran of Starwood Hotels & Resorts where he spent 15 years crafting Starwood Preferred Guest.  At Starwood, he had a person on his team responsible for the day-to-day needs of the loyalty program.  Based on comments from Mark, we can expect a similar structure at Hyatt.

When Mark and I spoke, he mentioned that they would be hiring someone to handle the day-to-day operations of World of Hyatt.  While my conversation with Mark was great, I was interested to see who would replace Jeff Zidell.  He was the face of Hyatt for the almost 10 years I’ve been a top-tier elite.  Mark would no doubt be shaping the program going forward.  But the person in charge of day-to-day would be tasked with being in contact with loyal members and advocating on their behalf.  Mark suggested that they were close to a hire and that we would likely be pleased.  I wondered if it might be Chris Holdren, who ran SPG for quite some time under Mark.  Turns out that guess wasn’t too far off.

Quoting from the Hyatt press release this morning:

Hyatt Hotels Corporation today announced that Hyatt has selected Amy Weinberg as senior vice president, World of Hyatt loyalty program. Weinberg joins Hyatt today and reports to Mark Vondrasek, executive vice president, global head of loyalty and new business platforms. In this role, Weinberg will direct Hyatt’s global World of Hyatt loyalty experience and teams, including program strategy and innovation, partnerships, operations and management.

While Amy spent some time away from the hospitality industry recently, she has a lot of experience getting to know what customers want.  And, she specifically has experience working with Mark:

Prior to that, Weinberg spent 12 years as senior vice president, consumer insights for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. In the position, Weinberg was responsible for leading global analytics, market research and customer relationship management functions, including a global team supporting all of Starwood’s brands and divisions, as well as the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program. Weinberg’s career also includes previous roles at Fulcrum Analytics, The Chicago Tribune Company, and Strategic Media Research.

Hyatt HotelsAmy Weinberg

The Bank Brasserie At Park Hyatt Vienna

What’s Next?

I still think it will be a while before we see any substantive changes to World of Hyatt. And, that’s if we’re going to see any at all.  The staff turnover seems to have nuked an end of year promo for bonus points, so we may have to rely on the SPG and Marriott versions to get our fix.

Amy has plenty of experience figuring out what customers want.  SPG was very effective rolling out additional benefits and programs to members.  SPG Moments is a great example of a program that helped members redeem for once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  There are plenty of others from Amy’s time at SPG.  And, she has a long working relationship with Mark Vondrasek.  Amy’s role will be to have the best interests of members at heart.  If so, she should be able to communicate that effectively to the upper levels of Hyatt management.

What’s next for World of Hyatt?  I’m not 100% sure.  I still wouldn’t expect radical changes anytime soon.  I’m hoping to get a chance to speak with Amy once she gets settled.  More to follow….

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  1. Let’s hope that the new team recognizes that they have problems with the WOH program and intend to fix at least some of the issues. To be honest I have found that the hotels seemed to have stepped up their recognition of elite members this year. I’ve been treated very well. And I still believe the watered down loyalty program provides the most bang for the buck in terms of luxury award stays. For me the biggest issues are 1. the quick expiration of free nights earned. Frankly, that makes those nights almost worthless unless I happen to be vacationing in that short time-span; and 2. the discontinuance of an amenity – a lovely 1,000 points – at check-in. Of course the lack of any bonus programs doesn’t help. Good luck Mark and Amy. Please listen to your most important members.

    1. Diamond Dave, I don’t think the check-in amenity is coming back, at least in the form of points. I think Hyatt is trying to reduce the amount of points in circulation. I could see them changing free night expiration. That’s low hanging fruit.

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