60 Seconds with Chris Walker, Director of Affinity Marketing at Hyatt

60 Seconds with Chris Walker, Director of Affinity Marketing at Hyatt

We recently spoke with Chris Walker, Director of Affinity Marketing at Hyatt, regarding Hyatt Gold Passport’s first ever co-branded credit card, which was introduced last month.

InsideFlyer
We’ve heard from a few members who are concerned that Gold Passport will increase the number of points required for a free night now that members can earn more points through credit card spend. Can you address this concern?
Chris Walker
When we made the changes to the award chart on June 4, we took into account the Hyatt credit card. The number of points that would be accumulated by Gold Passport members due to the credit card were definitely considered when we made those changes to the award chart.

IF
The card comes with complimentary Platinum status but will Diamond elite members receive any additional benefits?
Walker
Both Diamond and Platinum members receive additional benefits because they have achieved those tier statuses. Platinum tier members will receive the two free nights at any Hyatt anywhere in the world as well as two suite upgrades that they can use on paid stays. Diamond members receive two free nights in a suite. So they earn two suite night awards when they first use their credit card.

IF
Why did it take Hyatt Gold Passport so long to launch a co-branded credit card?
Walker
We’ve made a lot of changes to the Gold Passport program in the last couple of years with what we were doing for our best and most loyal guests. We felt that now that we had a lot of those relationships at a good stage, and we were doing a good job with our customers, this was a good time for us to launch a credit card and have that be the next step in our loyalty program marketing efforts.
We were waiting for the right moment and feel like we are in good shape with our customer relationships right now.

IF
There are no annual renewal benefits listed aside from Platinum elite. Any plans to add an annual renewal benefit?
Walker
Yes, we do have plans to add a benefit and we’re still developing that. We are waiting to see who signs up for the card and exactly which guests have chosen to have the card. We did a lot of research when we were figuring out what we wanted the features and benefits of the card to be. Once we have some cardmembers, we want to figure out what’s the right anniversary premium to give every year when they renew their cards. We absolutely will have one and it’s our hope that in the next few months, as we see who is signing up for the card, we’ll figure out what the best anniversary gift will be for those folks.

IF
Will you be contacting cardmembers directly to ask them what benefit they would like to see?
Walker
We don’t have that mapped out yet exactly how it’s going to work. We expect that a lot of people who sign up for the card will be existing Gold Passport members so we’re hoping that we can see what they’ve done in the past, what hotels they’ve stayed at, what their preferences are and we may do additional research with those cardmembers.

IF
The earning rate of three points per $1 at Hyatts is good. But why are all other spend categories only one point per $1?
Walker
We analyzed the feedback that we got about what our guests wanted. The one thing that really popped out was the extra points for stays at Hyatt. That is a great earn rate. We didn’t get a ton of feedback saying it was advantageous to have a whole bunch of categories. We were aiming for simplicity and that’s what we heard over and over again in the feedback. They wanted a card that was simple and easy to understand and still rewarding. With just having two rates, this card accomplishes that. You are getting the extra benefit with Hyatt, which is something that we heard people wanted, and there’s just one rate across the board so you aren’t guessing what things fall into what category.

IF
Anything else you’d like to say about the card?
Walker
We’re really excited about it. We spent a lot of time talking to our best guests, including existing loyalty program members and top-tier members. The ability to get two free nights at any hotel and have that flexibility was something that everyone was really excited about. So we’re hoping that really resonates with people. The earn rate at Hyatt and the lack of foreign transaction fees, with so many of our guests traveling internationally, was something that we heard quite often as a very beneficial aspect of the card. We’re excited and can’t wait for people to start making use of the card.

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