Just over a month ago, Hyatt appointed Mark Vondrasek as their new executive vice president and global head of loyalty & new business platforms. This was an interesting decision, given that Mark 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.
I was happy about this announcement. While I was a big fan of Hyatt Gold Passport back in the day, World of Hyatt has left me rather disappointed. While I get what they’re going for with using World of Hyatt as their global platform for connecting guests, there are just too many little details that aren’t well thought out.
I had the chance to speak with Mark shortly after he was appointed, and came away with a positive impression. While he didn’t reveal a whole lot about his plans yet, it’s clear he’s listening and coming in with an open mind, and I think that’s the best we can hope for.
What we also learned at the time was that Hyatt planned to appoint a new senior vice president of World of Hyatt before the end of the year. This person would be taking over Jeff Zidell’s job, as he stepped down from that position back in May.
World of Hyatt has a new leader
Well, the wait is over — Amy Weinberg has been appointed the senior vice president of World of Hyatt, and will report to Mark Vondrasek. Amy will direct Hyatt’s global World of Hyatt loyalty experience and teams, including program strategy and innovation, partnerships, operations, and management.
Here’s some background on Amy — it’s interesting to note that she spent 12 years at Starwood as a senior vice president, so she has a Starwood background, much like Mark:
Weinberg joins Hyatt with more than 20 years of experience in building brand strength in loyalty through consumer insights, market research, and strategic marketing and operations. Most recently, she spent two years as general manager for Groupdigital.com Corp, consulting for a variety of disciplines, including hospitality, hotel management, real estate ownership and development companies.
Prior to that, Weinberg spent 12 years as senior vice president, consumer insights for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. In the position, Weinberg was responsible for leading global analytics, market research and customer relationship management functions, including a global team supporting all of Starwood’s brands and divisions, as well as the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program. Weinberg’s career also includes previous roles at Fulcrum Analytics, The Chicago Tribune Company, and Strategic Media Research.
Here’s what Mark and Amy said about the appointment:
“Hyatt is fortunate to welcome a reputable leader in the loyalty space. Amy’s impressive track record in data insights and analytics will help advance our efforts to identify with our guests and understand their needs,” said Vondrasek. “Amy is a thoughtful, smart and intuitive leader who combines analytical strength with a passion to lead and develop others. This role is critical to our business as we continue to accelerate momentum of the World of Hyatt loyalty program and engage more deeply with our guests.”
“I have always admired Hyatt and its dedication to caring for guests, members and colleagues. I’m thoroughly familiar with the World of Hyatt loyalty platform and eager to build upon the strong foundation Hyatt has created with its guests, both within and beyond traditional hotel stays,” said Weinberg. “It’s an exciting time as Hyatt expands into wellness and other opportunities, and I look forward to helping drive overall guest engagement across Hyatt’s portfolio of brands.”
I don’t think I’ve had the privilege of meeting Amy, though I hope to at some point, and can’t wait to see what she does with World of Hyatt. In general I’m optimistic about the fact that Hyatt has hired two loyalty executives who have backgrounds with Starwood. I respect both Hyatt and Starwood immensely, though lately I feel like Hyatt has lost its mojo when it comes to loyalty. I’m hopeful that Amy (and Mark, for that matter) can come in with a fresh attitude and change things for the better.
Congrats to Amy, and we’re all rooting for you! Now please count award stays towards elite status (like virtually all of Hyatt’s competitors do), and have Globalist suite upgrades expire at year-end, rather than the current 12 month policy, which in some cases causes people to book away from Hyatt to delay requalification. There’s a lot more to change, but that’s the low hanging fruit that would generate a lot of goodwill in the short term, in my opinion.