March is almost over, which means that it has been almost a month since the Gold Passport program was discontinued and the World of Hyatt program was introduced.
Very few people seemed to be excited about the introduction of World of Hyatt. Arguably it’s positive if you spend 55+ nights per year with Hyatt, since Globalist status comes with some perks that Diamond status didn’t.
Now that the program has been in place for a month, I’m slowly starting to warm up to it. I’m not a fan of the marketing and branding surrounding it (the latest promotion offers double points “just for being you” — seriously?), but overall I’m feeling somewhat better about the program than I was initially.
However, there’s one aspect of the program that needs to be changed right away, in my opinion. There’s simply no excuse for it not to.
Why I’m warming up to World of Hyatt
The way I see it, a lot of the changes to the program cancel one another out, at least for Globalist members:
- The 1,000 point Diamond welcome amenity has been discontinued, and instead Globalist members get a free Category 1-4 night, plus a free Category 1-7 night every year, though they’re only valid for 120 days from when they’re issued. Let’s say a Diamond member stayed an average of 25 times per year. They’d be giving up a maximum of 25,000 bonus points (since limited service properties give 500 points rather than 1,000). Meanwhile a Category 4 and Category 7 stay would cost 45,000 points (15,000+30,000). Ultimately I think those two free nights are worth around 25,000 points when you consider the expiration policies, so let’s call that a wash.
- Hyatt got rid of the 2,500 point bonus for when club lounges were closed (which was silly-generous to begin with), so let’s call that a wash with Hyatt introducing free parking on award stays.
- Hyatt’s breakfast policy isn’t as clearly defined as before, so let’s call that a wash with resort fees being eliminated on all stays for Globalist members.
I’ll gladly take a free night annually at a Category 7 property, like the Park Hyatt New York
So that leaves us with needing an extra 5-10 nights per year to get unlimited space available suite upgrades, be able to use confirmed suite upgrades on award stays, and get additional incremental rewards for those who over qualify. It’s logical enough for a lot of people to view this as a net improvement, and I’m starting to think it almost might be.
The one area where Hyatt is woefully uncompetitive
Hyatt continues to not award elite qualifying nights on free night stays. You can earn them on Points + Cash stays, but not free night stays. That’s ridiculous.
Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, and even IHG count award nights towards status requalification. Yes, even IHG added these a while back, and they’re otherwise the weakest link as far as hotel loyalty programs go.
Hyatt has a total of ~700 hotels around the world, which is a significantly smaller footprint than all of the other major chains. Starwood has over 1,200 hotels, and the other major chains have thousands of hotels each.
It really takes effort to be loyal to Hyatt. Yet Hyatt continues to not award elite nights for free night awards.
Globalist members need 60 nights to qualify for status, but in reality it’s a lot more than that. This year we’re getting at least three free night certificates, so unless you’re going to let those go to waste, you need to do 63 nights. And if you want to book any free night awards, that’s not going to count towards the total either.
Similarly, Hyatt also doesn’t let you earn elite qualifying nights for booking multiple rooms. With Starwood you can earn up to three elite qualifying nights per night by booking multiple rooms, while with Hyatt you’ll only earn credits for one room.
What makes this ironic is that Hyatt has the “Guest of Honor” concept, where you book a free night for someone else and they get your elite benefits. So on one hand they’re embracing us redeeming points and maximizing them.
But on the other hand they’re the least generous major hotel program when it comes to awarding elite nights for free night stays, and also for multiple rooms. They do all this while having among the highest elite qualification criteria (especially when you consider that you can’t earn elite qualifying nights through credit card spend), and also the smallest footprint of any major hotel chain by far.
The fact that Hyatt continues to not award elite qualifying nights on free night stays leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve heard some suggest that it’s a technology issue. Well, the competition has been offering this for years, so it’s time it’s figured out. If this is intentional, then I have a lot of questions.
Hyatt’s footprint is small compared to the competition, and it takes effort to be loyal to them. Surely they would agree to that as well. However, in reality the 60 elite qualifying nights needed to earn Globalist status are more like 70-75 nights with a competitor, when you factor in how many free night stays most members would make.
Furthermore, other chains make it easy to earn elite qualifying nights with credit cards:
- Hilton outright lets you earn Diamond status by spending $40,000 per year on the Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express
- Marriott gives you 15 elite qualifying nights towards status just by having the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
Is Hyatt’s program so good that they can justify essentially having the highest qualification criteria while having by far the smallest footprint? I think not…