As was reported in the news and blogs this week, Hyatt named previous SPG Senior Vice President Mark Vondrasek as their Executive Vice President, reporting directly to Hyatt’s CEO. He is the global head of loyalty and new business platforms and will be hiring a new senior vice president of loyalty soon.
My 5 Top Questions and Points for Hyatt’s New Executive Vice President
I had the opportunity to speak with Mark this week and I had some specific questions that I felt would be of interest to many readers here as well as speaking on behalf of runners who travel. I was very happy that he was so interested in hearing from people on his very first week on the job and happy to share some of my top questions with him.
Several other blog authors spoke with Mark as well and I did not want to just repeat the big questions that had already been asked of him (such as award stays counting as elite credit, future status of Globalist with the required nights, suite upgrade certificate postings and more).
Here are my 5 top questions for Mark and what he said. While I did want to get his thoughts on some of these questions, I knew he had just come into the job so also wanted these questions to hopefully become part of a discussion down the road for new possibilities for the Hyatt brand.
I will say this – Mark was clear that he is very open to ideas and ways that the program can improve to reach a wide range of members. Hearing from so many people in his first week demonstrates that he does want to listen. So, we may actually see some of these things at some point! 🙂
“Could There Be a Shift In the Nights Required for Globalist?”
Let me expand for a minute on this question – I realize it is not outside of the realm of reasonable to expect something like 50 or 60 nights for top tier elite status. But, given the current size of Hyatt’s global footprint, it can be more difficult to hit that many nights as opposed to with chains like Hilton or Marriott.
This was the basis of my question: I had noticed that Hyatt made it clear in the terms for Globalist that only those that stay 60 nights in a year get the 4 suite upgrades and the complimentary Category 1 – 7 night. With the current promo for Hyatt credit cardholders, it is possible to get Globalist status with only 20 nights before the end of the year from September 1.
So, I asked if there could be a potential shift to requiring fewer nights for Globalist (which would also reduce the number of nights for Explorist) from 60 nights to 40 nights. I could see them preserving the gems of Globalist benefits (the suite upgrade awards and free night) for those Globalists that hit 60 nights in a year but actually granting Globalist status for 40 nights with the upgrades at check-in and the free breakfast.
Mark’s answer was that it is still a little early in his time there to speak too much to this but he is looking at many things and that this does sound like a good idea.
Yeah, a general response but I did want to be specific with this question in the hopes that it could be considered.
“Could Hyatt Institute Something Like a “Localist” Award?”
Many people do not like the new names within the World of Hyatt. But, I thought I would continue with the -ist naming and asked about the possibility of treating frequent customers of a single property with some special award or benefit.
I again referenced the smaller footprint of Hyatt properties and mentioned the Category 1 – 4 night for staying in 5 different brands in a year. Since many Globalist members stay at some of the same hotels over and over, it would be nice if there was some special benefit/award for frequenting the same property.
The Hyatt I frequent the most has given me some special upgrades and treats in time past and that is always a really nice experience. I told Mark about this and mentioned it would be nice to see something like this brand-wide as a way to recognize loyalists who stay at the same properties but may not have 5 brands in their travel windows.
Mark’s answer was that he liked that idea and he enjoys creative ideas to encourage and reward loyalty. He said he thought it would be something to think about and check into.
“Will There Be Some Changes and Advances to the Hyatt Mobile App?”
Mark had previously talked about how proud he was of the advances that the SPG app had made and how it was the first Apple Watch app integrated for hotel stays to open doors and such.
I told him that I feel a bit disappointed at times how the app lags behind the Hilton and SPG apps in some areas that could improve the customer experience and limit the amount of time waiting for check-in.
Mark’s answer was that he feels that the app area is one that can be expanded to meet more of the needs of the customers who look to technology in many ways. There are many ways an app can go to improve the experience and it was good to hear some from Mark about it and hear how interested he is in this arena.
I do think we will see some definite improvements to the app over time that will make the Hyatt app more than just an enhanced type of account review.
Running Specific Questions
“Could Hyatt Partner With Races/Marathons To Offer Special Packages?”
Mark has referenced his fondness for Hyatt’s wellness vertical and he was a part of the SPG executive team before this. SPG had the Westin brand which had a huge run-focused program in conjunction with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series. I have often said how much I would love to see something like this with Hyatt.
I mentioned to Mark that I have always appreciated how many runners I have met on the staffs of various Hyatts I have visited. I have even run with many of them and enjoy that they know the area and have local tips.
I told him that marathoners would certainly like to see some specific packages for them and I know the Run Westin program has been a big hit. Some of the things I mentioned would be great to see for a Hyatt-branded marathon package would be:
- later checkout times
- special breakfasts
- staff with a knowledge of the event/good run options
- tiered packages for suites for special races
- guaranteed room with bath for post-race chilling
All of these would be little touches that could be a great thing for runners and that may help them to choose hotels in the Hyatt brand next time they are on the road.
“Could There Be Better Communication About What Fitness Benefits Properties Provide?
There are many Hyatts that have some workout-specific focus points. Some of them offer workout clothes and even GPS units for an outdoor workout. Running/biking maps are also a big thing (check out Will Run for Miles’ posts on running maps). But, it is not something that is easy to find at many of the Hyatt properties. With their focus on wellness, it would be nice to see sections devoted to what that particular hotel has to offer in that space.
One more thing I asked about was things like group runs on Saturdays, for example, led by hotel staff members. It is a great way for visitors to a city to experience what is around the property as well as see more of the commitment by Hyatt to fitness and wellness.
Mark’s answers to these running questions was that he definitely is excited about Hyatt’s focus on wellness and fitness and these are things he would like to think about.
Yes, the answers here are more of the general nature but I certainly walked away with a great impression of Mark’s desire to listen to people who are interested in Hyatt. He did just come into the job but you can tell he is on top of things.
I did ask these questions because I wanted to know some of what he thought but I also asked these questions so I could drop some seeds for future changes/enhancements that would be positive for some elite members and for runners.
I enjoyed our brief conversation and will definitely be watching to see how things develop within the Hyatt loyalty program and with partnerships.