Say “goodbye” to Hyatt Gold Passport, and say “hello” to World of Hyatt. The hotel chain will change the name of its loyalty program and that’s not all. In addition to a new program name, Hyatt will also change the way in which you qualify for status and the benefits of being a member. Not surprisingly, these changes will draw a mixed reaction from Hyatt loyalists.
First, let’s review where the program stands currently stands in terms of earning elite status and elite benefits:
|Base Points per dollar spent||5||5||5|
|Internet Access||Paid||Free Basic||Free Premium|
|Preferred Room Upon Arrival||Nothing||Nothing||Higher Floor, Larger Room|
|Complimentary Club (Lounge) Access||No||No||Yes|
|Breakfast If No Club||No||No||Yes|
|Minimum Nights to Qualify||0||15||50|
|Welcome Gift||None||None||Amenity or 500-1,000 points|
|Diamond Suite Upgrade||0||0||4|
Hyatt has just three membership levels: Member, Platinum and Diamond. Regular members are entitled to earn points for their stay, and little else. Platinum members (achieved after just 5 stays or 10 nights per year) get free internet, some additional bonus points, but little else. However, at Diamond status (25 stays or 50 nights) members are given a greater point bonus (30% compared to 10%), a welcome amenity (500-1,000 points or a food and beverage item), free premium internet access (higher speeds), access to the club lounge with breakfast and evening cocktails or snacks or free breakfast when there is no lounge, and four confirmed suite upgrades – each of which is good for up to six nights and seven days. Hyatt’s Diamond status is often regarded as one of the best in the hotel industry by loyalty experts including me – I go out of my way to earn Diamond status each year.
World of Hyatt: Four Membership Tiers
The new qualification chart will improve status opportunities for those who are not particularly loyal to Hyatt and for those who stay the most, but makes it tougher for those in the middle. The new loyalty structure will be four tiered as follows:
|Base Points per dollar spent||5||5||5||5|
|No Resort Fee||On Award Nights||On Award Nights||On Award Nights||On Award Nights & Eligible Paid Rates|
|Preferred Room Upon Arrival||Nothing||Higher Floor, Larger Room||Best Room (No Club Rooms, No Suites)||Best Room Including Standard Suites|
|Free Daily Bottle of Water||Nope||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Complimentary Club (Lounge) Access||No||No||(4) Awards||Yes|
|Complimentary Parking on Award Nights||No||No||No||Yes|
|Priority Access to Available Rooms (For Early Arrivals)||No||0||0||Yes|
|Stay Credits Allowed||No||No||No||No|
|Minimum Nights to Qualify||0||10||30||60|
|Optional Base Point Qualification||0||25000||50000||100000|
Hyatt Rethinks Loyalty
As you can see, a third elite tier is on the way with benefits roughly between that of Platinum and Diamond and there will be two ways to qualify for status — by nights or by points (earned via dollars spent).
Why would Hyatt incentivize those who spend the least on their brand and increase the requirements for those spending the most? My best guess is because brand assumes two things: broad appeal and captive customers. To the first point, broadening the appeal of the brand and creating a reason for more casual travelers to stay with Hyatt might make the brand feel more open, and deliver more value to those who may not often stay where Hyatt hotels are located. For those that are already top tier elites, Hyatt considers Diamond members to be in one of two camps: those who are high spenders who stay in Hyatt hotels whenever they have the chance or those who spend less and barely qualify for the status. By increasing the requirements, Hyatt is moving the pretenders out of the top-tier, while keeping its most active customers where they belong.
So what’s required to earn status in the new World of Hyatt program? Top tier guests currently are able to stay as few as 25 times per year with the brand or stay a total 50 nights, which could theoretically be all in one stay. The stay qualification method is going away, and now only nights or spend (in the form of base points) will count towards status. Top tier guests will need 60 nights, though pre-qualifying top tier Diamonds (now Globalists) will need just 55 nights to maintain their status. Alternatively, top-tier status can be earned with 100,000 points, which is $20,000 at five points per dollar.
The Glass is Half Full?
Like the US flag carriers, Delta, United, and American who have put more of an emphasis on spend qualifications to encourage flyers to spend more, Hyatt will do the same by allowing a revenue element of qualification in the form of “base points” which are calculated off of spend, to determine status level.
However, like some airline programs that allow top tier flyers to earn even more of the best perks for exceeding their requirements, so too will Hyatt add to their best benefit, the confirmed Diamond Suite upgrades. These upgrades can be used for up to six nights confirmed in advance in a suite upgraded from a regular cash rate or cash and points. For every ten nights that a Globalist stays beyond the required 60 nights an additional suite upgrade will be provided, up to four in total. It is not yet clear whether this threshold is adjusted for returning top tier guests who are only required to stay 55 nights (meaning that another suite will be given at 65, 75, 85, and 95 respectively). This is in addition to top-tier members now being eligible for entry-level suites on a space-available basis upon check-in.
That’s not the only additional perk — no resort fees, early check-in, and complimentary parking on award nights will also be given (these tend to exist already, but are not guaranteed). A clawback as well–breakfast will now be for only two adults (and two children) rather than the current four adults.
One other new perk given to members of the World of Hyatt program is that following 30 nights, a free night certificate will be distributed for hotel categories 1-4, and another certificate given for a free night at any category hotel after 60 nights. Again, there is no word on whether this is actually available after 55 nights for top tier re-qualifiers.
More Free Night Opportunities
Hyatt is incentivizing you to try its different brands. Beginning March 1, 2017, you can earn free night certificates for trying different Hyatt brands:
- Earn one free Category 1-4 night after staying in five different Hyatt brands
- Earn a second free Category 1-4 night after trying another five different Hyatt brands
Hyatt is also giving all of their top-tier “Globalist” members a free night valid at any Category 1-7 hotel on March 1st.
Why I Question Hyatt’s Decision
The biggest problem with this approach is Hyatt’s limited brand. For example, Hilton awards Diamond status at 30 stays or 60 nights (comparable) but has over 5,000 hotels. IHG requires 75 nights for their Spire status and frankly does not compare in terms of amenity offerings to their top tier guests, but can better serve them with well over 5,000 properties worldwide. SPG/Marriott, the largest brand, requires 70 nights for SPG’s platinum status but allow you to enjoy the best suite available in the hotel at time of check in, something Hyatt does not come close to. The newly-merged chains also have a combined 6,000 properties. Hyatt is a global chain of just 600+ hotels: comparably 90% smaller than their competition without a presence in substantial territories.
For example, Chicago is home to Hyatt, and it has 19 properties there. A city roughly the size of Chicago, Lima, Peru has zero Hyatts while Pittsburgh has eight, Cleveland has two, and Milan is home to the only Hyatt in all of Italy. Until this year, there were no Hyatts in all of Spain either – staggering when considering the amount of both business and leisure travel. There is still just one Hyatt in Bangkok (the Park Hyatt Bangkok still hasn’t opened) for a city the size of Los Angeles welcoming 20 million travelers every year. So while 60 nights is not hard to accomplish with hotel chains that service Chicago, New York, Miami, and Los Angeles, if your business takes you to secondary or tertiary markets, 60 nights becomes much more difficult.
The new program rules will be announced November 1st officially, with a program start date of March 1, 2017. Those who have re-qualified for Diamond status for 2017 will receive Globalist status.
At this time, there will be no changes to the redemption side of the program either in terms of award charts or category levels.
Hyatt co-branded credit card holders by Chase will receive “Discoverist” status, which is a step down from the current Platinum benefits for credit card holders.
These changes will lead to new opportunities for high spenders and reward those who are “financially” loyal with new perks like additional free nights, complimentary suite upgrades, and more suite upgrade certs — those current-Diamond members who just squeak by with 25 stays each year (like me) will lose big under the new program.
UPDATE: As a result of this post, Hyatt has confirmed the changes and released the following video–
How will these Hyatt changes affect you?