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Amidst an onslaught of recent program devaluations, there’s at long last some good news on the loyalty landscape horizon. On May 11, 2015, Wyndham Rewards will launch what I’d describe as a “revaluation,” a newly revised loyalty program that offers—among other new benefits—a flat redemption rate of 15,000 points per night at all of Wyndham’s 7,500+ hotels worldwide.
According to Josh Lesnick, Wyndham’s CMO, who I spoke with just last week, Wyndham’s new loyalty program “has been designed with the intention of making it easier for members to earn, understand, and redeem Wyndham Rewards points.”
Named “You’ve Earned This,” the new program offers three main changes:
Go Free awards. A free night at any Wyndham property will now require 15,000 points with no blackout dates. This is the biggest change to the program, as it creates one flat redemption rate for all 9 tiers of Wyndham’s properties.
Go Fast awards. If you want to redeem your points sooner or stay longer for less, you can book available nights for 3,000 points plus cash.
More points for faster rewards. The program’s core earning ratio won’t change—it will still be 10 points for every dollar spent at Wyndham properties—but you’ll now have the potential to earn a minimum of 1,000 points per stay if that amount is more.
The enormous Wyndham Hotel Group has more than 7,500 hotels in 70 countries worldwide. While many of these firmly qualify as budget properties—such as Days Inn, Super 8 and Travelodge hotels/motels—there are also plenty which skew towards the luxury end of the spectrum. These include:
Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach. Set in the heart of Miami’s South Beach on Collins Avenue, this fully renovated Art Deco hotel is a short stroll from the sand and features a Morimoto sushi restaurant—where I snapped the above photo just last night, at dinner—and an elegant pool rimmed by cabanas, an outdoor bar and fire-pits. Under the old program, peak-period rates at this Wyndham Tier 9 property start at $475.50 or 50,000 points per night—but under the new program, it’ll require only 15,000 points per night, a a value of 3.2 cents per point!
Dolce’s Le Moulin de Vernègues. In February 2015, Wyndham acquired Dolce, a brand of high-end global properties that are generally set on the outskirts of large metropolitan areas/destinations. For example, the romantic, elegant 100-room Le Moulin de Vernègues is set a half-hour from Aix-en-Provence in southern France; originally a 13th-century country house, the property now features an on-site L’Occitane spa and an adjacent golf course. Under the old program, peak-period rates at this Tier 9 property start at €445/$480 or 50,000 points per night—but once again, this will soon drop to a 15,000-point redemption rate, for a healthy 3.2 cents per point.
TRYP by Wyndham Bogotá Usaquén. TRYP is a global brand of lifestyle-, tech- and millennial-focused hotels (on par with SPG’s Aloft and Marriott’s impending Moxy), and this particular TRYP property is set in Bogota, Colombia, one of the TPG must-visit destinations for 2015. This hip, 80-room hotel is right off Bogota’s fashionable Seventh Avenue, offering an on-site gastropub that features Colombian cuisine and cool views of the city’s rolling hills. Under the old program, nightly rates at this Tier 8 property start at $115 or 30,000 points per night—but now it’ll require a redemption of only half that, for a value of .76 cents per point.
Under the old Wyndham Rewards program, upper-tier properties like these three required redemption rates of between 30,000-50,000 points per night, making it pretty difficult to redeem for Wyndham’s most desirable properties. The upshot of Wyndham’s new program is that you can now concentrate your points-earning strategy on Wyndham’s budget hotels and motels, but redeem each 15,000 points you bank for a free night at one of its higher-end properties. (Note that the lower-tier properties’ redemption rates will also be going up from the old lower levels, but it was rarely worthwhile to redeem points for $50/night hotels, anyway.)
To get an idea of how this flat-rate redemption of 15,000 points per night compares to other loyalty programs’ starting top-tier redemptions, consider that Hyatt Gold Passport and Starwood Preferred Guest require at least 30,000 points; Marriott Rewards requires 45,000 and IHG needs 50,000; and both Club Carlson and Hilton HHonors ask for at least 70,000.
Lesnick describes Wyndham’s program switch as “bringing aspiration to the masses,” but I’d just describe it as a positive step forward in making loyalty more, well, loyal. Too often we’ve seen hotels and airlines massively devalue their once valuable programs; in the case of Wyndham, it’s exciting to see a brand actually return value to its customer base.
Wyndham plans to add new travel partners in the future, but for the moment, its partners will remain the same. Present airline/rail partners include Alaska, American, Aeroplan and Hawaiian, and Amtrak Rewards, all of which allow you to earn 2 miles/points per $1 spent on Wyndham rooms, and a few car rental partners (Alamo, Avis and Budget) that allow you to earn a starting rate of 50 Wyndham Rewards points per rental day.
In case you don’t want to rely on hotel stays or car rentals for points accrual, know that you can buy Wyndham Rewards points for 1.1 cent per point, in blocks of 1,000, up to 5,000. A maximum of 5,000 Wyndham Rewards points can be purchased and received in a single calendar year.
Shortly after the May 11, 2015 launch of “You’ve Earned This,” Wyndham will release a new updated mobile app for the program. In the summer, they’ll roll out a 3,000-point bonus offer, and new elite membership tiers are expected to roll-out later this fall. They also plan to feature seasonal points promotions throughout the year.
This summer, Wyndham will launch the richest bonus offer in its history on its Wyndham Rewards Visa Card —though no firm amount or date has yet been specified. Presently, the $75 annual fee version of the card offers a sign-up bonus of up to 30,000 points after $1,000 spent within the first 90 days, and earns you 5x per $1 on hotel stays and 2x per $1 on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases (with some exceptions), and 1x per $1 on all other purchases. It also offers a cardmember anniversary bonus of 6,000 points, the old program’s redemption rate for one night at a Wyndham Tier 1 hotel. The no annual fee version offers a sign-up bonus of 15,000 bonus points with first purchase, and earns 3x per $1 on hotel stays 2x per $1 on eligible gas, utility and grocery store purchases (with some exceptions), and 1x per $1 on all other purchases.
With any program changes there will be winners and losers, but for those who like to maximize the value of their points, I see these changes as a net positive— and for the first time, I’m paying attention to the Wyndham Rewards program in a real way. I’ll be sure to bring you program news as it develops.
What are your thoughts on this new program?