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.