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Hyatt Pulls Out the Perks as Travel Slumps

Say bye-bye to blackout dates and hello to free Wifi Internet access when you sign up for Hyatt's redesigned Gold Passport customer loyalty program.

Crimped by a weak economy, which has slowed both leisure and business travel, Hyatt is opting to pull out the perks for its most loyal customers.

It's one of several tactical steps Hyatt is taking to focus consumers on the advantages of staying at Hyatt's 370 hotels and resorts. The company also is sponsoring a contest with a grand prize of 365 free nights at its hotels worldwide.

Sarasota Hyatt Lobby
Source: Hyatt.com
Sarasota Hyatt Lobby

"We believe our loyality to our guests will serve our purposes over the long term," says CEO Mark Hoplamazian, in an interview with CNBC.com.

In addition to free Wifi, Hyatt also is offering dedicated check-in lines for its customers and the promise of the best available room upon check in for its more frequent guests who have achieved platinum and diamond status.

The decision to focus on its most loyal customers comes at a time when the hotel business is under extreme pressure. Revenue per available room is down by a double-digit percentage rate, he says.

In the first quarter, the company continued to see declining business, according to Hoplamazian. He hopes for a pick-up in business and leisure travel next year, but so far there aren't any clear signs of a turnaround, he says.

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  • One of the biggest impacts has been the declining number of companies hosting big group events at hotels. Not only are companies cutting back business travel to keep an eye on their spending, there has been public outrage at perks given to corporate executives.

    Even when groups opt to hold events, the size and scope is not as what it was, Hoplamazian says.

    In the current climate, people are "quite conscious" about business travel, especially incentive travel, Hoplamazian says. He thinks this may be short-sighted.

    "In these times, the ability to get together and convene a meeting where you can meet with your best customers and clients and colleagues is quite valuable," he says. "This is the time when meetings should be promoted."

    As for leisure travel, he says, spending on meals has drop "precipitously."

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