October 9, 2017 View in browser
World of Hyatt, the loyalty program from Chicago-based Hyatt hotels, is having a roller coaster year. Late in 2016, the program was completely overhauled to better award travelers who spend more rather than those who book more nights — a move that roiled some budget travelers.

In May, Hyatt's head of loyalty stepped down. Only in September did the group finally appoint a new head of loyalty, Mark Vondrasek, the former lead from Starwood's Preferred Guest program.

Despite the tumult, World of Hyatt has opened a lot of opportunities for Hyatt to experiment with new tools such as Member Experiences for guests. Now, the program may be expanding to include apartment rentals as part of the equation for earning loyalty points and status.

The partnership comes through Oasis, a network of boutique vacation rental properties not dissimilar to what Airbnb offers. In August, news broke that Hyatt had made a minority investment in an Oasis venture-funding round. Last week, Hyatt started integrating Oasis into its Unbound Collection, a series of boutique hotels and properties loosely associated with the Hyatt brand.

Hyatt announced the integration to its loyalty program members in an email, saying "The Unbound Collection by Hyatt is pleased to now offer home rentals through Oasis, a global leader in serviced home rental accommodations. With thousands of handpicked homes in over 20 destinations worldwide, Oasis combines the comfort and authenticity of home rentals with the service and amenities of a hotel — including in-person check-in and check-out, fresh linens and toiletries, and on-demand concierge services."

The Unbound Collection also launched a landing page advertising the new integration with Oasis, calling it "a global leader in serviced home rental accommodations."

By extension, Hyatt also seems to be intent on including properties from The Unbound Collection and Oasis in its loyalty program. The end of the email to loyalty members concluded that "Oasis is coming soon to the World of Hyatt program. We are actively working on adding the opportunity for members to earn and redeem points and enjoy benefits for stays at Oasis properties."

Once the integration is complete, earning and redeeming loyalty points through Oasis may be the shot in the arm that World of Hyatt needs. So far, the program has received middling reviews throughout the year as many conclude that the program is best for the high-spend traveler.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the program number four in the country behind Marriott (and Starwood) and ahead of Hilton. If vacation rentals could be used to earn points and qualify for status with the hotel chain, however, budget travelers could find further reason to participate in the World of Hyatt — and the program's utility could be restored to the wider market.
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