Wyndham Rewards’ Revolutionary Program Changes: Good Or Bad?

Wyndham Rewards is a program that I don’t cover very much, largely because I don’t consider it to be an especially “aspirational” program. When I earn Hyatt Gold Passport points I can redeem them at the Park Hyatt Sydney. When I earn Starwood Preferred Guest points I can redeem them at the St. Regis Bal Harbour.

When I earn Wyndham Rewards points, I can redeem them at the… well, I’m not actually sure.

I didn’t see this coming, but Wyndham Rewards will be radically changing their loyalty program as of May 11, 2015… and it’s potentially really good news.

Wyndham-Rewards-2

Wyndham Rewards is making three changes — two are relatively minor, while one is borderline earth-shattering when it comes to hotel loyalty programs:

Earn at least 1,000 points per stay

With Wyndham Rewards you presently earn 10 points per dollar spent at their properties, with no minimum. Under the new program, you’ll continue to earn 10 points per dollar spent, but will earn a minimum of 1,000 points per qualifying stay. That means if you stay at an $80 per night hotel, you’d still earn the 1,000 point minimum.

Wyndham Rewards will introduce Points + Cash

While the exact numbers haven’t yet been revealed, Wyndham Rewards will be introducing Points + Cash redemptions, whereby you can redeem 3,000 points plus cash for a hotel stay.

The 3,000 points is consistent, while the cash amount will presumably vary by hotel. As is the case with most loyalty programs, Points + Cash availability will be capacity controlled, so don’t expect it to always be available.

All award redemptions will cost 15,000 points per night

Here’s something that’s truly revolutionary. I’m not sure if it’s the greatest or worst change a hotel loyalty program has made. It’s that revolutionary.

All free night redemptions will cost 15,000 points per night, regardless of which hotel you stay at.

Presently Wyndham has nine tiers of hotels, which range in cost from 5,500 to 50,000 points per night, as follows:

Wyndham-Rewards-1

Instead the cost of a free night redemption will be between the current cost of a Tier 4 or Tier 5 property. This obviously means that:

  • The cost of free night redemptions at low end properties is going way up
  • The cost of free night redemptions at high end properties is going way down

For those of us that accrue points for the purpose of aspirational redemptions, this is great news. To give a comparison to airline miles, it would be like paying the same number of miles for American economy class from Los Angeles to San Francisco as for Singapore first class from San Francisco to Singapore (or since we’re talking about Wyndham here, perhaps Singapore Airlines premium economy would be a better comparison for their “high end” properties). ūüėČ

What are the implications on reward night availability?

While Wyndham doesn’t have blackout dates on redemptions, I’m not sure whether they have capacity controls or not. If they do, obviously it means there will be more people competing for the same (limited) number of rooms, which may lead to disappointment. If they don’t have capacity controls, then I’m very curious to see how on their end they handle the cost of high end redemptions.

Will this change piss off most members?

It’s always important to keep things in context and remember that we don’t represent the average consumer. Just as most people redeem their miles for domestic economy awards, most people want to redeem their hotel points for non-aspirational awards. And in some cases the cost will be going way up, and presumably a large portion of the membership will be disappointed.

If you usually redeem your points for free nights at a 5,500 point per night property, imagine how disappointed you’d be if the cost of that redemption nearly tripled overnight.

But given how many of Wyndham’s properties are budget properties and how big their footprint is, I’m not sure how many people would actually vote with their wallet and stay elsewhere, given that they don’t have much competition in many markets.

At the same time, I think it might actually attract some business travelers that have discretion over where they stay and may not have otherwise considered Wyndham.

Bottom line

Kudos to Wyndham for this gutsy move. Wyndham really, really thought outside the box here, and for that they should be commended.

For consumers these changes aren’t universally positive. The changes are great news for those of us chasing aspirational awards, and not-so-great news for many members that weren’t as focused on aspirational awards.

But what makes this brilliant from Wyndham’s end is that I bet they will come out way ahead under this system. Since a vast majority of people redeem for lower tier properties, I’d be willing to bet the average cost per redemption actually goes up, and not down.

What do you think Wyndham Rewards’ motive is here, and would you like to see other loyalty programs adopt a similar scheme?

Comments

  1. Like Carlson is so aspirational?

    It’s a needle in a haystack, but there are a few top-end properties in Wyndham’s collection, like the Mills House in Charleston, S.C.

    That’s about it.

    But again, all the serious Carlson fandom among the miles & points crowd makes me laugh. Carlson is basically a quarter-step above the Wyndham chain, if that, and only if you travel to Europe.

  2. Here is what I wonder about. How does “no blackout” vs “capacity control” differ.

    Let’s take my favorite Wyndham property. Koloa Landing in Kauai. Was 30K a night. Local management felt that wasn’t enough compensation. They have million dollar condos that can go for $500 and up a night. So Wyndam created a new tier just for them of 50K per night.(no notice)

    No way will this property be ok with 15,000 a night! But let’s just say that they are forced to offer this with no blackout dates. Could they load one room every night for a year and meet Wyndham’s requirements?

  3. If I were to stay at a better propety it would be SPG or Hyatt. I would not even consider Wyndham.

    Now on occasion, I’ve HAD to stay at Wyndham because I had no other option for that particular area. The points for those properties were lower than 15K. So I don’t like the change! I don’t like Wyndham! And I don’t forget about that massive devaluation – when it came without warning!

    Sorry Wyndham but you are at the bottom of my list!

  4. @Nick — For some of us, “aspirational” travel is to go and actually..you know…get to know a destination and not sit in a hotel. No matter how flashy it is.

    I’ve stayed at numerous mid-range Wyndham hotels and they’re perfect for that. Have exactly what you need like comfortable beds, showers and towels, and no useless bells and whistles to appear high-end.

    I hope this change works out, because then I can MS my way to $60 nights and Wyndham has a larger footprint then Radisson, which is the only reason I don’t utilize their hotels as much as I’d like to. (although EVERY Radisson Blu I’ve stayed at has been on the par with most Hiltons, Hyatts and IHG hotels.)

  5. This may be “revolutionary” in the sense that no other program has done it before, but it doesn’t mean it’s a clever, well-thought change. I surmise we’ll see more lack of availability at their high-end properties and excess supply at their lower end properties. In a nutshell, it prevents the points and redemption market from clearing effectively.

    I do welcome the change though since I have a few Wyndham points I’d like to get rid off. Now I just need to be one of the few lucky ones to book the properties in Hawaii first.

  6. I’m sure it’s true that most of their US hotels are shit although the last Wyndham I stayed in the US was El Paso airport – it was as decent as any of the other hotels in the area.

    I have stayed at several nice Ramada and Wyndham hotels in Korea, Thailand and Hong Kong as well.

  7. @atxtravel — Hey, not really disagreeing with you on the value of non-“aspirational” travel redemptions, more just pointing out that Ben’s disappointment with the Wyndham portfolio, and therefore the Wyndham Rewards program, is kinda skewed since everyone (including Ben) seems to LOVE the Carlson loyalty program even though the Carlton portfolio is hardly “aspirational” (and definitely not aspirational within North America).

  8. atxtravel ‚ÄĒ not sure about the manufactured spend angle. You’d have to spend $7,500 to get a free night. That same spend on a 2% CB card would get you $150. How many Wyndhams go for more than $150?

    Answer ‚ÄĒ is anyone looking at the Manhattan angle? For someone who stays there regularly, consistent $150 nights are a bit of a godsend. (Though Club Carlson is still the winner in this regard… but many fewer properties in NYC and only on 2-night stays…)

  9. I don’t want to thread-jack, but can someone explain, from the hotelier’s perspective, how the rewards points work? Most hotels are franchised/licensed and not corporately-owned. When points are given to a member, do those come out of the hotel’s franchise fees or are they additional? If a member gets extra bonus points due to status, do those come out of the hotel’s pocket? And for redemptions, how does the hotel handle that?

  10. Well I wouldn’t be MSing for cheap rooms but in very expensive cities it comes in handy. Just depends on where my travels take me.

    Also who says it’s either or for MS? I can do the 2% card and a hotel card. At least my MS capacity is 20-30k a week.

  11. Funny, my aspirational use of my Wyndham points will be at the State College, PA Days Inn. It’s a pretty good Days Inn …. As far as Days Inn’s go. Roughly $100/night normally, the rate skyrockets to about $500/night on Penn State Football weekends. However, currently 20,000 points/night (but I don’t collect Wyndham Points) but with it presumably heading to 15,000 points/night, I’m going to start collecting. I’m surprised to see that football weekends aren’t blacked out – so maybe a no black-out policy.

  12. Too bad the Parc 55 in San Francisco left Wyndham. This is going to hurt the low end hotels where people will stop redeeming. And the high end ones won’t list rooms for rewards. Lose, Lose.

  13. I’m guessing that Wyndham is going to make very few reward nights available at their top-tier properties.

    It’s like the flat income tax. The simplification sounds nice in theory, but it would actually hurt most of us.

  14. Wyndham just screwed their customer base with this change. It was not a good idea for the consumer but a great idea for Wyndham.

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