Why Wyndham puts experience before loyalty

A very successful loyalty programme should be an indication of a great guest experience, says Wyndham

Don't put the cart before the horse is Wyndham's approach to loyalty and this means ensuring than putting the loyalty the guest's end-to-end experience is one to remember and cherish. As Eliot Hamlisch, SVP Worldwide Loyalty & Partnerships at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts, puts it, a guest isn't going to return to a property for the loyalty programme!

Nevertheless, Wyndham has one of the world's most successful loyalty programmes and one of the ways they measure this is by the total number of members enrolled. “This gives us a perspective on what we are doing to bring new members to the programme,” says Hamlisch, who took part in EyeforTravel’s latest white paper – Loyalty: Cutting through Clutter in the Age of Experience. Other measures are member occupancy, stay frequency, and engagement."We look at what we are doing to engage our members to come back and stay in our hotels night after night,” he says. Explaining the rationale behind this he adds that how members are earning and redeeming points provides crucial insight into where “the opportunities are to flex the programme in new and different ways”.

One of the key findings of EyeforTravel’s white paper is that brands must address loyalty throughout the customer journey by building partnerships with all kinds of businesses. Partnerships are certainly a crucial part of Wyndham’s loyalty efforts, and in keeping with a growing trend to extend the way that guests can earn and redeem points, it is working with a number of companies.

These include:

  • DoorDash, an on demand food delivery service in the US that is growing very rapidly abroad. With DoorDash, Wyndham Rewards members can earn 250 points for each food delivery. In addition, members also free delivery when staying at a Wyndham property.
  • Marathon Gas Stations– Wyndham’s research has shown road trippers, road warriors or consultants on the road for a number of days a week fork out a substantial amount on gas. Through partnership with Marathon, Wyndham’s members have the opportunity to earn Wyndham Reward points when they fill up at the pump. 

  • Viator – Wyndham members can earn and redeem points when booking any of more than 100,000 tours and activities around the globe. 

  • Collinson- Focusing on making the programme more accessible to members via everyday purchases, Wyndham members can earn points whenever they shop online at more than a thousand online retailers. 

Partnerships at Wyndham also extend to other industry players. “We spend a lot of time internally talking about balanced distribution, and the OTAs certainly have a place,” says Hamlisch.

We spend a lot of time internally talking about balanced distribution, and the OTAs certainly have a place

What this means in practice, is that there is a concerted effort to partner across the organisation – so loyalty, distribution, revenue management, operations, and so on, all work together in order to understand how to optimally approach the channel mix. So, while Wyndham may partner closely with a number of OTAs, first and foremost it is committed to driving optimal value to franchisees.

Experience is the end game

“At the end of day we are a hotel company, so it is about ensuring a personalised experience, not only during the booking process but also when but when the guest is on property, and also post-stay,” says Hamlisch.

Ultimately, however, it is what the guest experiences on property that matters most. “If the experience is a poor one, you can have the best loyalty programme in the world but it won’t make a difference,” he adds.

To tackle this, Wyndham spends a lot of time with general managers and the operations team to ensure that there is a consistent focus on reviews – both negative and positive - and taking action when needed. This includes both for negative and positive reviews.

Engagement at all stages of the customer journey is a top priority. “From the second that a member arrives on our website or gets through to our call centre, or whatever that first touchpoint is, we have an opportunity to ensure they have a great experience,” Hamlisch says.

Some of that comes under the remit of the loyalty programme, but it also requires partnership across the organisation.

Technology partnerships

Wyndham also relies heavily on technology partnerships to help its loyalty efforts – among those with Google and Adobe, as well as in the social media space, which is becoming an increasingly important channel for members.

The selection of partners varies by touch point and includes allowing Wyndham to:

  • Get more information into the hands of front desk agents, to enable a more personalised check in
  • Optimise email communication so that it is consistent with what the guest is seeing on the website.

Wyndham’s recent research shows that customers belong to roughly 14 different loyalty programmes, but only half of these are actually used. “The key in the future will be to cut through clutter to ensure that your programme is one of those seven. It is about engagement, and about building a programme and ensuring that it is of value to members,” Hamlisch concludes.

Eliot Hamlisch, SVP Worldwide Loyalty & Partnerships at Wyndham Hotels and Resorts joins an exciting line up of speakers at EyeforTravel North America which takes place in Chicago (Oct 28-29)

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