GHA Discovery Changes: Omni Leaves While NH Hotels Join

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Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), with its Discovery-guest “loyalty” program without any reasonable redemption options (no free nights), is going through a dramatic change,

Omni Hotels has decided to exit the program as of June 30, 2021, while NH Hotels will join GHA Discover sometime in early 2022. GHA also hints that they plan to come up with a “digital” currently likely to be used for awards nights.

You can access GHA’s Discover here.

Here’s Omni’s announcement about its exit:

Omni Hotels & Resorts is withdrawing from the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) and its DISCOVERY program June 30, 2021 with the goal of focusing on the evolution of the Select Guest® loyalty program and their internal Omni customers. Select Guest® loyalty program will remain the sole program for Omni Hotels & Resorts and current members’ tier levels and benefits will remain unchanged.

Immediate impacts for Omni Select Guest® members as of June 30, 2021:

  1. While Select Guest members will have uninterrupted benefits and tier status with Omni Hotels and Resorts, members will not receive DISCOVERY program benefits when staying at other hotel brands affiliated with the DISCOVERY loyalty program.
  2. Emails from DISCOVERY will cease and login credentials on DISCOVERYloyalty.com will expire as of June 30, 2021. Members may choose to opt-in and continue participation in the DISCOVERY loyalty program. Select Guest members who have had a member stay at another brand participating in DISCOVERY will automatically maintain membership in DISCOVERY and current email marketing preferences with DISCOVERY will continue.
  3. Nights stayed with other participating GHA hotels will no longer count towards Select Guest tier status. Only qualified stays with Omni with a check out prior to June 30, 2021 will count towards tier status achievement or renewal in 2021.
  4. DISCOVERY Local Experience Awards are offered and administered by GHA and its DISCOVERY program. Only brands within the alliance may offer redemptions of this award. Local Experience Awards and redemption will not be offered at Omni hotels or resorts after June 30, 2021.
  5. Members with a Local Experience Award may choose to continue participation in DISCOVERY and redeem their award at another participating hotel brand.  Please refer to your DISCOVERY membership account summary for award expirations.

Here’s the GHA’s announcement about NH:

NH Belvedere

NH HOTEL GROUP JOINS GLOBAL HOTEL ALLIANCE

Multinational hotel operator with more than 360 hotels across 30 countries to merge its NH Rewards with GHA’s DISCOVERY loyalty programme

Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 20 April 2021: Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), operator of the award-winning, multi-brand hotel loyalty programme, DISCOVERY, announced today that NH Hotel Group will join the alliance and merge the NH Rewards loyalty programme with DISCOVERY in early 2022, thereby establishing DISCOVERY as one of the 10 largest loyalty programmes in the hospitality sector, with over 900 participating hotels.

Based in Madrid, Spain, the NH Hotel Group is one of the largest hotel companies in the world. Under three brands, NH Hotels, NH Collection and nhow, it operates over 360 hotels in 30 countries, primarily in Europe and South America. NH Hotel Group is majority-owned by Minor Hotels, a Bangkok-based operator of more than 160 hotels and a GHA shareholder. Minor’s global family of brands such as Anantara, Avani, Elewana Collection, Oaks and Tivoli are already member brands of the alliance and participate in DISCOVERY.

Chris Hartley, GHA’s CEO, sees this as a big step for GHA.

“NH will strengthen the alliance during what has been a difficult period for the hospitality industry, further leveraging our collective buying power and collaborative marketing efforts. It also gives our 17 million-plus DISCOVERY members access to hundreds of new locations in South America, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Benelux, where until now we had limited coverage.”

The announcement comes as GHA is preparing to launch a redesigned version of its DISCOVERY programme during the fourth quarter of 2021. There will be an exciting array of new features, including a digital rewards currency and unique benefits and offers for local members even when not staying in the hotel. More details on the new programme are due to be announced soon.

Ramon Aragones, CEO of NH Hotel Group, who will be joining GHA’s board of directors, adds:

“Being part of Minor Hotels, we are already expanding NH’s presence into new markets, such as Australia. With Minor’s brands participating successfully in the DISCOVERY loyalty programme for many years, this was a logical step for NH and our customers. It enriches the choice for NH’s 10 million members, opening up destinations across Asia, Australia and North America; and makes us more competitive with a loyalty platform to rival the best in the industry. I am delighted to join Dillip Rajakarier, Minor’s CEO, on the GHA board, where I look forward to being involved in the strategic growth of the alliance through a strong collaboration with a fabulous collection of independent brands.”

GHA’s DISCOVERY loyalty programme was first launched in 2010 to help independent, upscale, and luxury hotel brands compete with major global brands while retaining their individuality. DISCOVERY celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2020. The second iteration of the programme is expected to launch in mid-October of 2021.

Conclusion

Let’s hope that GHA’s Discovery is better than the Preferred Hotels loyalty program that rebates a laughable 2% (free night for every 50 consumed on average).

At least the GHA Discovery has an opportunity to grow into a program that members could take seriously considering the number of properties. Still, they need to have reasonable redemption options and giving back roughly 10% + good elite benefits.

I am not a huge fan of programs with dynamic awards because it sucks all the fun out of the programs (turn them essentially cashback).

GHA claims that they have 10 million members, but what percentage of those are active in any given year? It must be 2% to 4% range.

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