In October, Hyatt unveiled some pretty substantial changes to their loyalty programme. You can read about it here.
At first glance, I was fairly bullish about the changes. This is probably due to the fact that in the last three years I’ve easily hit 60+ nights with Hyatt. As a Diamond member, I find staying at least 28 nights rather compelling, since I can confirm suite upgrades if I stay a week at a time. And the other nights? With Hyatt offering 75,000 bonus points for 25 nights, for me it’s like waving a red cape in front of a bull so I make sure to hit 25 nights during the three to four months of the promotion…
But general feedback seems to be negative about the upcoming changes. Most of the vehemence centres on the fact that Diamond status could be achieved with 25 stays, but now Globalist is going to require 60 nights. To put this in perspective, you need to spend 2 whole months at a Hyatt, and award stays don’t count! Given Hyatt’s limited footprint – 700 or so hotels worldwide – this is understandably going to be difficult for most.
So what are the pros and cons of the new World of Hyatt, and some of the things to love and others to hate?
Free Night Certificates
The free night certificate (Categories 1-4) for staying at 5 different brands is unquestionably a proper enhancement, and something to love. It doesn’t matter if it takes you 3 months or 10 years to try five separate brands, World of Hyatt members can earn a free night at any number of very attractive hotels.
The free night certificate (Categories 1-4) for staying 30 nights in a year is also something to love. Complaints centre around the limited period to actually use the free night. 120 days/four months is not a long time, especially if you can only manage one or two holidays per year. But members who might not have qualified for Diamond previously (25 stays / 50 nights) will now receive the consolation prize of a free night at any number of attractive hotels, provided you can manage a weekend away at relatively short notice. Of course, Globalists will also receive this free night certificate along the way…
The free night certificate (all categories) is actually something to have mixed feelings about. Why would I love a Category 1-4 certificate but not an all-Category one? Because it appears to me that this certificate is replacing the Diamond Amenity bonus – 1,000 points per stay at full service hotels and 500 points per stay at a Hyatt Place/House. For anybody who reached Diamond status with 25-30 stays, these Diamond bonuses would add up to 20-30 thousand points per year. 30,000 points would already get you a free night at a Category 7 hotel – points don’t expire, whereas free night certificates expire quite quickly and might therefore need to be used at somewhere less than a Category 7. Obviously points would be better.
New Benefits for Those Truly Loyal to Hyatt
As mentioned, it is a substantial challenge to reach 60 paid nights per year in a chain with only 700 or so hotels worldwide. But once there, the new benefits are quite appealing:
- Globalist members are now promised space-available upgrades to suites for all stays, without using an upgrade certificate. I don’t know how much of a difference this will actually make, as I have frequently been upgraded to suites – possibly due to full hotels, possibly due to hotels going the extra mile so that I’m inclined to return…
- Suite Upgrade certificates can now be used on award stays
- With an expectation of many fewer Globalists (than Diamonds), competition for suite upgrades should be much reduced.
Bonuses for 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights
- I’ve managed 100 nights in a year. I’m sure others have as well. Instead of having very little incentive to go beyond the minimum requirements for status qualification, World of Hyatt will now offer 10,000 bonus points (1,000 per night) or an additional suite upgrade certificate for each block of 10 additional nights. I like the choice. And 1,000 points per night is better than the Diamond Amenity bonus of 500/1,000 points per stay.
Waiver of Resort Fees and Parking Fees
- To reach 60 nights based on Hyatt’s limited footprint, you are surely spending a fair amount of time in the United States. Many American properties add resort fees, which are unquestionably annoying since they cover silly things that few actually pay for (or should already be provided for free to elite status guests). Same with paying to park your rental car… The waiver of these fees can actually add up to quite substantial savings. Unfortunately it doesn’t appear that this waiver will apply to MLife resorts in Las Vegas.
A Meaningful Mid-Tier Status
Hyatt Gold Passport was all-or-nothing. Diamond status is great. Platinum status offers little. But the new mid-tier Explorist level (30 nights per year) will offer:
- The aforementioned free night certificate valid at a Category 1-4 hotel. Assuming it can be used at a Category 4 hotel that would otherwise cost 15,000 points, this works out to a 500 point per night bonus.
- Explorist status will come with four certificates good for Club lounge access. four certificates should be more than sufficient for Explorist members to get free breakfast, hor d’oeuvres, etc. during their annual holidays at hotels with a Club lounge. It even appears that there is no length-of-stay limit; book an entire month’s stay on points at a single hotel and you could enjoy lounge access for the duration.
Hilton HHonors, and perhaps Marriott Rewards, are the only chains that offer meaningful mid-tier status benefits. Hyatt now appears to be joining them…
Over-the-top Requirement for Reaching Globalist
60 nights per year!!! (55 to re-qualify) Award stays don’t count! Multiple rooms don’t count! Hyatt have probably gone too far, particularly given their limited footprint. Perhaps Hyatt really intend to cull the list of top-tier status members, and treat the truly loyal extremely well, incentivising them to stay even more. But perhaps Hyatt have accidentally told 30-45 nights-per-year members that their business isn’t valuable enough to reward.
Instead of making Explorist a Diamond-lite – perhaps retaining free breakfast but reducing the entitlement to suite upgrade certificates to 2 per year – Hyatt have made it too much of a drop off from the current Diamond. Globalist is going to be great, but instead of merely incentivising Diamonds to stay more, they’ve made it appear impossible to reach, even though somebody thought that going from the current 50 nights to 55/60 isn’t that big of a deal.
I hope Hyatt will be paying attention to the numbers in 2017. Diamond members will automatically become Globalists, but if these members don’t appear to be making an effort to re-qualify, Hyatt ought to reconsider. Expect the addition of free nights counting for status purposes, and perhaps a softening of the 55/60-night requirement…
Saving Me From Myself (Both Love and Hate)
Perhaps Hyatt have my well-being in mind…
- Hotel Hopping. With no Diamond Amenity bonus and no way of qualifying for status based on stays, I no longer have any incentive to switch hotels each night. (unless I’m hopping between different chains) I’m sure Hyatt have contemplated that one-night stays are the least profitable, requiring fresh linens, etc. for each guest. And I’m somewhat relieved to not change hotels as often, so I can just check in and stay for awhile…
- Category 7 Free Nights. I’ve only booked one Category 7 hotel on points – the Park Hyatt Tokyo for a single night. I just can’t bring myself to spend 30,000 points on a single hotel night. Even though I should prefer Diamond amenity points to a free night, I am looking forward to trying out a few Category 7 hotels such as the Park Hyatts in Milan, Paris or Zurich…
Finding sixty paid hotel nights to send Hyatt’s way isn’t going to be simple, but it should be well worth it. Will Hyatt ultimately regret its decision? We’ll find out soon enough…