Scoop: Huge Changes Coming to Hyatt Gold Passport

Say “Goodbye” to Hyatt Gold Passport, and say “Hello” to World of Hyatt

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:

 MemberPlatinumDiamond
Base Points per dollar spent555
Point Bonus015%30%
Internet AccessPaidFree BasicFree Premium
Preferred Room Upon ArrivalNothingNothingHigher Floor, Larger Room
Complimentary Club (Lounge) AccessNoNoYes
Breakfast If No ClubNoNoYes
Stays RequiredNone525
Minimum Nights to Qualify01550
Welcome GiftNoneNoneAmenity or 500-1,000 points
Diamond Suite Upgrade004

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:

 MemberDiscoveristExploristGlobalist
Base Points per dollar spent5555
Point Bonus010%20%30%
No Resort FeeOn Award NightsOn Award NightsOn Award NightsOn Award Nights & Eligible Paid Rates
Preferred Room Upon ArrivalNothingHigher Floor, Larger RoomBest Room (No Club Rooms, No Suites)Best Room Including Standard Suites
Free Daily Bottle of WaterNopeYesYesYes
Complimentary Club (Lounge) AccessNoNo(4) AwardsYes
Complimentary Parking on Award NightsNoNoNoYes
Priority Access to Available Rooms (For Early Arrivals)No00Yes
Stay Credits AllowedNoNoNoNo
Minimum Nights to Qualify0103060
Optional Base Point Qualification02500050000100000

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.

In Conclusion

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?

Categories
NewsPassport

Matthew is an avid traveler who calls Los Angeles home. Each year he travels more than 200,000 miles by air and has visited more than 120 countries over the last decade. Working both in the aviation industry and as a travel consultant, Matthew has been featured in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, BBC, Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Al Jazeera, Toronto Star, and on NPR. Studying international relations, American government, and later obtaining a law degree, Matthew has a plethora of knowledge outside the travel industry that leads to a unique writing perspective. He has served in the United States Air Force, on Capitol Hill, and in the White House. His Live and Let's Fly blog at shares the latest news in the airline industry, commentary on frequent flyer programs and promotions, and detailed reports of his worldwide travel. His writings on penandpassport.com offer more general musings on life from the eyes of a frequent traveler. He also founded awardexpert.com, a highly-personalized consulting service that aids clients in the effective use of their credit card points and frequent flyer miles. Clients range from retirees seeking to carefully use their nest egg of points to multinational corporations entrusting Matthew with the direction and coordination of company travel. Matthew can be reached at matthew@upgrd.com.
20 Comments on this post.
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    27 October 2016 at 11:28 am
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    […] ANZEIGE Mit Vorsicht zu geniessen, aber wie immer, kein Rauch ohne Feuer… Scoop: Huge Changes Coming to Hyatt Gold Passport – Pen & Passport […]

  • Michael Money
    27 October 2016 at 12:42 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Are you saying that if I requalify for Diamond in 2016 it will expire in March of 2017? IOW all Diamonds are starting over in March 2017?

  • BigTex
    27 October 2016 at 1:03 pm
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    What do you think this means for the free breakfast benefit for Diamonds (when there is no lounge)?

  • MBP
    27 October 2016 at 1:33 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Any idea how this will impact the Hyatt/Mlife partnership?

  • yucanuck
    27 October 2016 at 1:39 pm
    Leave a Reply

    🙁 sad news. As you noted, a big issue with the changes is that the small footprint means you don’t have the option of Hyatts in many destinations. Also with 2/3 of the properties being in the US, it makes it even more difficult for international travel.

  • Ian
    27 October 2016 at 1:51 pm
    Leave a Reply

    Any word on which status the credit card will give?

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    27 October 2016 at 2:15 pm
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    […] hamstrung by Hyatt’s smaller footprint–are sure to be disappointed. This new program, World of Hyatt is reported to have four membership tiers. For the top tier, what once required 50 nights or 25 […]

  • James Dozer
    27 October 2016 at 3:13 pm
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    I’ve been a Hilton guy for a very long time but every once in awhile, I think about making the switch to another program. But the more I look, the more I keep coming back to Hilton. These new changes would not benefit a casual traveler like me at all. Most hotel programs only reward their biggest spenders whereas Hilton rewards even their middle peeps. I definitely can’t make the move now.

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    27 October 2016 at 3:18 pm
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    27 October 2016 at 4:16 pm
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    27 October 2016 at 4:40 pm
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  • Joseph N.
    27 October 2016 at 6:17 pm
    Leave a Reply

    I think your analysis hits the heart of the problem. All the good stuff now takes 60 nights instead of 50 nights, but with Hyatt’s smaller footprint, that is a much tougher sell. For example, there is no Hyatt, not even a HP, within an hour’s drive of my mother’s house. There are nearly a dozen Hampton Inns. Does Hyatt expect me to stay an hour away when I visit?

    Other than that, my observation is a big laugh at the new names. Did Hyatt really pay people to come up with “discoverist” to replace the word “platinum?” Just imagine the focus groups. Oh boy, can I have that cushy job?

  • Scott
    27 October 2016 at 10:56 pm
    Leave a Reply

    I totally understand Hyatt wanting to reward their most loyal (read, big spenders) guests, but in a world where SPG and Marriott are still separate but you achieve the same tier in both for only qualifying on one brand, and Hilton allowing you to count stays or nights on points, this is a difficult sell for me. I too am one of those leisure travelers that just squeaks by with 25 stays a year, those will now go to SPG or Hilton and I will just pay out of pocket at Hyatt for all the extras I once got for free. Everyone has made the same point, which is that Hyatt has a smaller footprint, but is demanding more of their guests. And really, if you think about it (unless your company is paying for your stays) the extra 30 nights at an average of $150 a night comes to $4500 which can easily be spent on better quality vacations for your first 30 nights or less. The extra $4500 does not equate to the amenities of the Globalist. They are doing what Delta started. Revenue is king and that is what loyalty is now.

  • Carl
    28 October 2016 at 12:16 am
    Leave a Reply

    Kind of vague on what happens to the breakfast benefit. Is it included at the 30 night level? But on the whole this seems to make the whole Hyatt program way less desirable. Not only does Hyatt not have many properties in total, but some of the properties are old and tired.

    Seems like the future is to be more transactional. Hilton Gold looks good.

    PS: No email option to follow?

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    28 October 2016 at 7:09 pm
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