Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach

This week, Wyndham Hotel Group announced an overhaul of their loyalty program, with a new name (Wyndham Rewards) and a new mascot (the Wyndham Rewards Wyzard, played by Game of Thrones star Kristofer Hivju). The goal, says Josh Lesnick, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Wyndham Hotel Group, is to have “the richest program in the industry,” and to “reward our members with what they want most—a free night.” But does it deliver? Here’s what you need to know.

The basics:

The new program promises a simple, straightforward earning and redemption system: for each qualifying hotel stay, guests will earn 10 points per dollar spent or 1,000 points (whichever is greater). 3,000 points can be cashed in for a credit towards your next stay (the value varies per property) and 15,000 points equal a free night at any Wyndham property worldwide—regardless of whether it’s a Days Inn, TRYP, or Wyndham Grand beach resort. For now, there are no associated on-property benefits, and there are only two tiers of status: Gold Status is earned by staying 20 qualifying nights in a calendar year, and comes with a 15,000 point bonus to use for a free night stay. This fall the company plans to introduce a “world-class elite” membership tier as well, though details were not yet made available.

Is it simpler than before?

Yes. You can earn points faster, as the old program used the same 10 points per dollar formula, but didn’t include a 1,000-point minimum earn per stay. And redemption comes with a fixed price, whereas the previous program used a sliding scale of 5,000-45,000 points per award night.

It is the richest program in the industry?

No. If transparency and quick rewards is its area of focus, it’s handily outdone by Hotels.com, which offers one free night for every ten nights stayed. (And no, you can’t double dip by booking Wyndham stays via Hotels.com—Wyndham Rewards requires you to book through direct channels.)

Is it a better value?

Only if you’re smart about it. You’d have to spend less than $100 per stay for the 1,000-point minimum to help you earn points faster, and with so many Wyndham brands coming in at a budget level, redemption at 15,000 points is likely to be more expensive than before. And you can’t cash in at the company’s most luxurious properties, as their newly acquired Dolce Hotels and Resorts brand is not yet on the participating hotels list (a spokesperson says Dolce will be added to the program this summer). The best way to win is to rack up affordable stays and cash in for nights at Wyndham Grand resorts.

Nikki Ekstein is an associate editor at T+L. Follow her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein. 

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