Hyatt Debuts Biggest Loyalty Promo Ever

By Jun 01, 2009

How do You Promote a Lodging Loyalty Program when businesses are slashing travel and consumers are perfecting the stay-cation? Chief Marketer spoke to John Wallis, CMO of Hyatt, and to Amy Curtis-McIntyre, senior vice president of brand communications, about the biggest promotion in the hotel chain’s history, “The Big Welcome,” which offers a year of free lodging and a million air miles to Gold Passport loyalty members on three continents.

CHIEF MARKETER: What’s the strategy behind the “Big Welcome” contest?

WALLIS: The “Big Welcome” is not only marketing to our customers, but something we can market internally, to increase the importance of our customers in the eyes of our front-line staff.

CM: How has the lodging industry changed with the economy, and how has your marketing been affected?

WALLIS: The customer who’s traveling today isn’t the one who was traveling in 2008. Basically, corporate America stopped traveling on Sept. 16 of last year. We’ve been concentrating on customers who’ve traveled since then, because that means they have a job and a budget.

CM: What kinds of results have you gotten from the Big Welcome so far?

WALLIS: We’ve had 87,354 essays submitted. In addition, 197,541 people have entered the sweepstakes for a free one-night stay. Even better, 79% of those entries said they had stayed with the competition.

CURTIS-MCINTYRE: We’ve attracted an extremely high demographic of people who really love travel, as opposed to contest addicts.

CM: How complicated is it to operate a global promotion of this size?

CURTIS-MCINTYRE: You have no idea. The IT requirements, the logistics, the language translations, the legal complications involved with giving out prizes in some countries, the citizenship requirements …

WALLIS: I was about to say it was quite simple.

CURTIS-MCINTYRE: (Laughing) Well, when we launched, you were asleep in Hong Kong.