The new Bilt Rewards program lets members earn points through their rental apartment, and even earn points for paying rent to any landlord. It has a credit card, and points transfer 1:1 into a variety of loyalty currencies.
At first blush it seemed surprising to see Hyatt as the only hotel points transfer partner. It makes sense for Bilt, it’s the only hotel program where a 1:1 points transfer offers value to members. But we haven’t seen Hyatt offer that many partnerships. Why add Bilt?
Hyatt doesn’t have an online shopping portal. It doesn’t have a restaurant rewards program. There’s no real estate or mortgage referral program. Outside of the hotel and airline space they partner with some experience providers and Avis rental car and Points.com for selling points. That’s just about it. So why add a brand new program?
I spoke with World of Hyatt Vice President of Partnerships Ari Levin about the decision to partner with Bilt Rewards, and came away realizing that it’s a millennial play, not a selling points play even though the primary way they’re partnering is through points transfers from Bilt to World of Hyatt.
Hyatt’s portfolio of hotels skews more upscale. That’s true not just in the full service space, from Hyatt Regency to Alila and Park Hyatt, but even in the limited service space where Hyatt Place and Hyatt House are relatively premium compared to competitors.
As a result the World of Hyatt demographic is older and more financially sound than the median member of other programs. That, along with the value proposition of the World of Hyatt program itself, is why their co-brand credit card hits above its weight for Chase. On a per-program member basis it outperforms Marriott and IHG.
But it also means there’s a set of travelers that may be harder for the program to reach, despite conventional wisdom that millennials ‘prefer experiences over things’ and Hyatt has focused strongly on experiences from Miraval resorts to Exhale spas to Lindblad Expeditions.
While Ari Levin offered that Hyatt wants to “meet World of hyatt members where they are,” and this partnership means “expanding into when they’re at home” and an “opportunity to engage with new members when they’re not traveling with us” I think the key to unlocking this sentence is the word “new.”
He acknowledged that the “millennial market Bilt has access to is the next Globalist,” that they’ll potentially be reaching customers through Bilt who are current renters in major urban areas that they want to engage in the program. Hyatt believes they have something to offer millennial travelers more than in the past through the brands they acquired from Two Roads Hospitality, Joie De Vivre, Thompson Hotels, Destination Hotels and Alila.
I asked whether they planned to do more than be a points transfer partner to engage with members of the Bilt Rewards program and Richard Kerr from Bilt interjected that they have plans to “engage our member base with lots of different activations and [limited time offer]s.” To be continued, I suppose.
Levin suggested that success in this partnership is linear – “the more Bilt rewards members who experience what Hyatt offers,” not just the “overnight stay,” but since Bilt’s major landlord partners are in urban centers where they have high end food and beverage outlets in their hotels they’d judge it based on whether Bilt members are also earning for standalone dining at places like Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt DC, in fact the first place I ever earned Hyatt points on property when not staying as a guest.
It does seem remarkable that a substantial portion of Bilt points will likely be earned with the Bilt Mastercard, and those points will be transferable to Hyatt and that this is all consistent with Hyatt’s Chase partnership (and contract). To that he only offered that since the program is launching with Hyatt as a partner, clearly “we’ve made it work.”
As Dave Canty from Bilt suggested, they’re a loyalty program for renters first and have a credit card second – it’s not a credit card transferable points program as such. And this lets them partner with American AAdvantage as well, which isn’t a transfer partner of any bank rewards currency.