Hyatt’s Chief Marketing Officer is Out

When Jeff Zidell departed Hyatt in May I wrote that I was not optimistic precisely because “his replacement is going to have to pass muster with people in the company that haven’t earned the same level of customer loyalty either in their time at Hyatt or in the roles they held before.”

It turns out I was wrong. Loyalty wasn’t going to report up to Hyatt’s Chief Marketing Officer at all. When Hyatt hired Mark Vondrasek – formerly of Starwood – as Senior Vice President for loyalty and business platforms it was announced he would circumvent the CMO and report directly to the CEO. At the time I noted how unique that was.

Since then Vondrasek has brought on a deputy to run World of Hyatt and they’ve announced that award nights would count towards elite status (recognizing implicitly that the new tougher threshold for earning status was a problem) and extending the validity of new free nights earned upon status qualification.

Though Hyatt tried to dissuade me of the significance that their head of loyalty wouldn’t report to the Chief Marketing Officer the handwriting seemed to be there. Hyatt hired Maryam Banikarim in 2015. She led company to a new loyalty strategy (which was largely about cutting costs) and new advertising campaigns. Now Deanna Ting reports at Skift that she along with global head of capital strategy, franchising and select service Steve Haggerty are out. Banikarim will leave Hyatt April 30th.

“We deeply appreciate the outstanding contributions Maryam and Steve have made to Hyatt and their leadership through this important transition,” Hoplamazian said in a statement. “Maryam transformed the marketing function and leaves us with a legacy of expressing our purpose through our brand position as a company and throughout our communications. Steve has provided tremendous value to Hyatt for nearly 11 years. He led the way in some of the most important steps we’ve taken to build our brand portfolio.”

Despite claims of great success for Hyatt’s program changes this move speaks volumes.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. All these fired execs were on a suicide mission. The task was to cut a lot of the expense out of HGP while leaving people just as happy. I think they did as best they could given those parameters, and yet they have to fall on their sword. Tough to square the circle of making people be just as happy with significantly less.

  2. So Jeff, have you heard any rumblings on how well or not so well Hyatt has done this past year with the new guidelines? I know for me I hit my usual 45/50 but due to footprint and schedule did not make my 60. In October I realize what would happen and went back to Marriott ( LIFT PLT) which I am sure there are others.

    It will be interesting to see what results they issue or spin.

  3. Change is good
    Now stop the bad behavior of pitiful suite upgrades at Andaz Maui both the lack of them and the inferior views of ground level suites (are u f####) kidding us?)
    and force them to make more standard rooms available
    Make sure worldwide that members get a free full breakfast for 2
    At a 1000 dollar a night Park Hyatt New York juice and coffee with a small dollar credit is not a complimentary breakfast nor is it reasonable by achieving annual Globalist requirements

  4. And bring back the Globalist Diamond
    welcome amenity options which made a guest fell welcome and recognized
    Not a hospitable or competitive move
    And perhaps and least important retire the silly Globalist name
    Sounds like a lost traveler or in this case a loss of marketing wisdom and direction

  5. Bingo. The handwriting was on the wall, indeed. Spin it all you want, the truth is there if you read between the lines.

  6. I totally agree with Dwondermeant…..Globalist is silly and a tongue twister. AND….. the welcome amenity was nice. Now, I get a bottle of water. Did anyone ever hear of NOT using plastic?

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