Hyatt just announced that Mark Vondrasek will be their new head of loyalty (and ‘business platforms’). I’ll be speaking with him this afternoon, what would you like to ask?
Vondrasek was with Starwood for 15 years, from 2001 to 2016, and in mid-2015 became Senior Vice President for Commercial Services overseeing sales and revenue management as well as distribution, loyalty, and partnerships. (Then-SPG head Chris Holdren, also an SVP, reported up to Vondrasek.)
Projects that reported up to Vondrasek during his tenure at Starwood included,
SPG Keyless, SPGPro, Your24, SPG Lifetime, Delta Crossover Rewards, and SPG Preferences. He has also overseen Starwood’s strategic marketing partnerships, including a long-standing, co-branded credit card alliance with American Express as well as high profile entertainment partnerships. Across Starwood brands, these partnerships – Delta Air Lines, Emirates, Coca Cola, Mercedes AMG Petronas, and Uber, among others – offer guests access and experiences like no other through SPG Moments.
He’s also a highly regarded horse breeder. His MBA is from Loyola University in Chicago so he’s no stranger to Hyatt’s headquarters city.
Here’s a McKinsey interview where he talks about the reason Starwood added benefits to the 75 and 100 night levels, making mobile relevant to guests, and delivering elite benefits consistently.
And here’s Vondrasek offering his recollections of what he’s most proud of Starwood for, a sort of requiem for a brand being swallowed by Marriott.
Here’s Hyatt’s press release:
HYATT SELECTS MARK VONDRASEK TO DEEPEN LOYALTY ENGAGEMENT AND ADVANCE BRAND GROWTH BEYOND TRADITIONAL HOTEL STAYS
Industry veteran and demonstrated innovator will help to build new experiences in high-growth areas
CHICAGO (Sept 25, 2017) – Hyatt Hotels Corporation (NYSE: H) today announced the selection of Mark Vondrasek as executive vice president, global head of loyalty & new business platforms, reporting to Mark Hoplamazian, president and chief executive officer. In this newly created leadership position, Vondrasek will direct Hyatt’s integrated experience strategy, which currently includes the World of Hyatt loyalty platform as well as Hyatt’s wellness initiatives including Miraval and exhale. Vondrasek will also be charged with creating and scaling new business opportunities, products and services.
“Mark’s successful track record, working in a brand-led, global organization makes him the ideal candidate for this role,” said Hoplamazian. “We are fortunate to welcome a leader with a reputation for transformation who can accelerate Hyatt’s loyalty platform, advance innovative products and expand Hyatt’s partnerships. This work is critical to our experience-based growth strategy and will deepen the relationship we have with our existing guests as well as expand our base of customers.”
Vondrasek joins Hyatt with more than 25 years of experience in building strong brands through the effective integration of marketing and operations. Most recently, he spent 15 years in leadership roles at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the latest of which as senior vice president and commercial services officer. In the position, Vondrasek was responsible for the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program, 10 customer contact centers, mobile applications, digital initiatives, business-to-business sales strategy, revenue management and sales. During his tenure at Starwood, he spearheaded many of the company’s most successful loyalty initiatives as well as oversaw Starwood’s strategic marketing partnerships. Vondrasek also held previous roles at Northern Trust, Fidelity Investments and Kemper Financial Services.
“This is one of the most exciting times in the history of the travel and hospitality space. I’m intimately familiar with, and have great respect for the Hyatt brand, the company’s entrepreneurial mindset and the strong foundation they’ve built with their loyalty platform and approach to growth and innovation,” said Vondrasek. “I’m eager to collaborate with the amazing team Mark has built to accelerate the forward momentum powered by World of Hyatt, the company’s movement into wellness and other opportunities to expand beyond traditional hotel stays.”
During the American Airlines bankruptcy The Onion reported that they planned a business stategy pivot from being an airline to focusing on their core business of producing American Way magazine. That’s how I feel about ‘advancing brand growth beyond traditional hotel stays’ through acquisitions like Miraval (to cleanse your this-and-that) and Exhale.
And watch out because according to Hyatt’s CEO the hire means that their “loyalty platform” will be “accelerate[d]” — is that like enhanced?
But Vondrasek certainly knows something about building irrational brand loyalty among customers.