Hyatt Has A New Global Head Of Loyalty

Back in May we learned that Jeff Zidell was stepping down as the head of loyalty at Hyatt. Jeff is a great guy, and one of the most passionate people I’ve ever met when it comes to loyalty programs. He’s the guy to thank for what a creative and well executed program Gold Passport was, given that he had been in that position for almost a decade. I have the utmost respect for Jeff, and his replacement will have big shoes to fill.

Unfortunately earlier this year Hyatt introduced World of Hyatt, which didn’t prove as popular with members. To this day I wonder what exactly the thought was that went into the program.

While not a direct replacement, today Hyatt announced that Mark Vondrasek has been appointed Hyatt’s executive vice president and global head of loyalty & new business platforms. So not only will Mark be responsible for World of Hyatt, but he’ll also be responsible for the addition of resorts like Miraval to the Hyatt platform, and for “creating and scaling new business opportunities, products, and services.” Eventually Hyatt will also be hiring a senior vice president of loyalty, though that person hasn’t yet been announced.

For some background on Mark, he spent 15 years in leadership roles at Starwood, most recently as a senior vice president and commercial services officer. There he managed Starwood Preferred Guest, 10 customer contact centers, mobile applications, digital initiatives, business-to-business sales strategy, revenue management, and sales. When I first heard that Hyatt had a new head of loyalty I had hoped that s/he would be from Starwood, and I’m happy to see that’s the case.

Per the press release, here’s what Hyatt’s CEO and also Mark Vondrasek had to say:

“Mark’s successful track record, working in a brand-led, global organization makes him the ideal candidate for this role,” said Hoplamazian. “We are fortunate to welcome a leader with a reputation for transformation who can accelerate Hyatt’s loyalty platform, advance innovative products and expand Hyatt’s partnerships. This work is critical to our experience-based growth strategy and will deepen the relationship we have with our existing guests as well as expand our base of customers.”

“This is one of the most exciting times in the history of the travel and hospitality space. I’m intimately familiar with, and have great respect for the Hyatt brand, the company’s entrepreneurial mindset and the strong foundation they’ve built with their loyalty platform and approach to growth and innovation,” said Vondrasek. “I’m eager to collaborate with the amazing team Mark has built to accelerate the forward momentum powered by World of Hyatt, the company’s movement into wellness and other opportunities to expand beyond traditional hotel stays.”

I don’t think I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting Mark, but he seems like a good guy. Last year Starwood did a series where Starwood employees could share what makes them “#StarwoodProud,” and here’s Mark’s video:

I appreciate how passionate he is about innovation and all the Starwood “firsts,” and hopefully he can bring a similar spirit to Hyatt. So in addition to hopefully making positive changes with World of Hyatt, I’m also excited to see what new partnerships Hyatt can come up with.

I’ll have the chance to speak with Mark this afternoon, so will report back on that conversation. If anyone has any questions they’re especially curious to know the answer to, leave them below, and I’ll try to ask them.

Comments

  1. I will lose Globalist next year due to removal of stays as a way to re-qualify. I’m guessing many others will due to the seeming desperation move of the recent 20-night short cut. Will he admit any concerns about gutting a great program and potentially losing huge numbers of loyal customers?

  2. @ Lucky — a couple of questions that he might actually be able to answer:

    (1) Will we see a return to Hyatt having regular/quarterly promotions in Q4 and/or 2018? Unlike other chains, Hyatt hasn’t had any since WoH went live.

    (2) Will Hyatt finally start to count award nights towards status qualification? All of their competitors already do that.

  3. The quick 20 night trip to qualify as globalist is insulting to those of us who have re-qualified the hard way. Can he address incentives for the people that actually stay 60+ nights that reward loyalty over shortcuts to status? No issue with the shortcut, but there should be extra incentives for those that meet the 60 night requirement that differentiates loyalty.

  4. @ Lucky — Hilton, Starwood and Marriott have been announcing great Q3 and Q4 promotions. Hyatt “responded” by announcing a fast-track to Globalist by way of their credit card, while turning their backs on existing loyalists. Where are the competitive promos?! Is this what we can expect from Hyatt moving forward?

    —JRL

  5. Q: Why WoH members can’t qualify via stays to achieve status?

    Q: Why doesn’t WoH offer a breakfast benefit for mid-tiers?

    Q: Why does the WoH makes it less lucrative to stay loyal to chain without offering lucrative promotions?

    Thank you Lucky, would be fascinating when you would write a follow-up post with all our questions [hopefully honestly and meaningfully] answered.

    Cheers & Safe Travels.

  6. Q: Why doesn’t WoH offer a breakfast benefit for mid-tiers?

    THIS IS A GREAT QUESTION!!! I love me some free breakfast, I understand if they can’t do it for Discoverist, but possibly for Explorist.

  7. Q.Why has Hyatt lost total interest in its loyal customer base ?
    Q. Why did Hyatt implement the worst Loyalty program that ensures no loyalty ?
    Q. Why does Hyatt treat its most loyal with the most disdain?

    Hopefully Starwood Knowledge and customer focus will be imparted into WOH . Hyatt needs a total change of senior management especially in Asia/Pacific were flippant dismissal of member issues regarding WOH is their current focus in fact only focus .
    Impossible to continue supporting Hyatt given their disastrous customer treatment.Hopfully SPG knowledge will rectify the current negative disposition.

  8. Is there an email we can contact him directly, or if not who can I voice my concerns too?
    Overall I am very pleased with Hyatt, but there are some things they can do better.

    First and Foremost is this My Concierge service. I used it once during the recent hurricane and was actually upset at the lack of response and personalized service I received trying to get a room booked while my power was out. I want to change my assigned Concierge to someone else. how do I go about doing that.

    The other issues are simply benefit related and consistency, which should be an easy fix.
    1. Globalists get service charge waived, yet most places I’ve stayed I have to request this at checkout.
    2. Same for premium high speed internet which is sometimes on the bill.
    3. Parking on a free award night, and most recently a 1/2 price parking offer when booked at a specific rate code; all showing up full price on the bill.
    4. Breakfast consistency regarding tipping. Seems to vary from property to property. A couple places I’ve left a cash tip, and still got a tip billed to my room charge!

    All of the above seem like an easy fix, but as VP of This important program, they should be corrected by a simple IT computer fix, and/or global hotel policy.

    Thanks. Steve

  9. Sorry, couldn’t edit my response above to item 1. Globalists get the RESORT FEE waived (not the service charge I wrote originally). I’ve even pointed this out at checkin, at the properties that have resort charges and it’s still on the bill at checkout. Minor thing, but it can be easily fixed along with items 2, 3, and 4 to save time at checkout.
    Thanks! Steve

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