Hyatt Is Cracking Down On “Second Guest” Bookings For Others

Filed Under: Hotels, Hyatt

Different loyalty programs have different policies when it comes to earning points and receiving elite benefits for stays that other people make. For example:

I appreciate both of those perks, and for me they serve different purposes — when I’m traveling with family and friends I’ll almost always choose Starwood, while if I’m just booking travel for family and friends (and I’m not going), I’ll often redeem points for them to stay at Hyatt.

However, there’s another method that people often use to book stays for others in a mutually beneficial way. This allows the account holder to earn points while the person actually staying receives elite benefits. Specifically, I’m talking about the “second guest” trick, which seems to be pretty common (though it’s not something I personally do, at least nowadays).

This is a method some people use to get executive lounge access for others

Let’s say you’re a World of Hyatt Globalist member, and you have a friend who needs a hotel stay, who isn’t otherwise loyal to a program. The trick is that you’d make a booking in your name, and then you’d call Hyatt to add them as the second guest to the reservation. Then they’d be able to check-in, and the primary guest just never shows up (“oh, he’ll be arriving later”).

This usually isn’t an issue, though it’s not foolproof:

  • This gets complicated if there are actually two people traveling (since you’d technically want to make a booking for three people to be on the safe side, but that can get more expensive, or it’s something many hotels don’t allow)
  • This generally isn’t an issue in the US, though abroad there are sometimes rules about the hotel needing to have a copy of the passport of the primary guest
  • At boutique or luxury hotels, they are more likely to realize the primary guest didn’t show up

Anyway, the reason I’m writing about this is because Frequent Miler reports that Hyatt seems to be cracking down on this behavior. Specifically, he notes that several readers reported that Hyatt sent them an email after booking such a stay, warning them that this behavior violates the terms, and that the continuation of this behavior could result in your account being shut down:

We appreciate your continued loyalty as a World of Hyatt member. However, we recently became aware of reservations credited to your account, for which you were not present.  Please note, members may only earn stay and point credit, including bonuses earned with any promotion, if they pay an eligible room rate and are the registered guest. See

At this time, your account is active.  However, please be advised that any continuation of this prohibited behavior will result in an account closure and forfeiture of all accumulated points and awards.

I figured this was worth passing on, since it’s a behavior that many do engage in. What I’m especially curious about is how Hyatt is tracking people who do this. There are a few factors that I figure they could be tracking:

  • Those who repeatedly add second guests to reservations, especially different second guests (as such there shouldn’t be anything suspicious about adding a second guest, because people do arrive at different times)
  • Hotels could report this kind of behavior to Hyatt, though I’m not sure what would cause a hotel to do so, and how they’d even catch on
  • Perhaps corporate reaches out to individual hotels when they suspect this kind of behavior, and draw conclusions based on this

It’s something to be aware of if you frequently make bookings for others as a way of getting points and elite credits for yourself, and elite benefits for others. This is the first time I recall hearing of a hotel loyalty program cracking down on this kind of stuff.

  1. Does the second guest trick works for earning points? E.g. I book a room for a friend with my account (paid/points) and never show up. Would I be able to earn points if I am the primary guest?

  2. @Lucky, my guess is this is tracked based on the presentment of credit card by the secondary guest and the name on the credit card used at check-in, then ultimately used for final payment…never changed to the primary guest (elite member).

  3. Use the euphemism ‘trick’ if you will; I call it what it is…a fraudulent scam , and Hyatt is correct in trying to put an end to it. With a limited pool of upgrade room/suites, is it acceptable for a member to ‘arrange’ benefits for someone without status? Meanwhile a real Globalist arrives to checkin and is scammed out of a possible upgrade by a fraudster.

  4. I work at an ihg property and we never check unless they try to use the person credit card on file.

  5. @Paolo
    “With a limited pool of upgrade room/suites, is it acceptable for a member to ‘arrange’ benefits for someone without status?”

    Hyatt says yes, and calls it Guest of Honor.

  6. Hyatt did this to my best friend three or four years ago. Almost cost him a tier.

    I don’t think it’s unethical. It’s like letting someone else borrow your nice car. And it’s tying both guests to Hyatt, so they should be glad to get the chance to show off their properties. Don’t they have better things to do?

  7. Good Job Hyatt!
    There is a whole industry here in China, where these black-market dealers, who have all top tiered status in all loyalty programms. they will book a stay on a basic room type with cut throat cooperate rate (with their fake IBM, GE, Siemens badge.) and they make sure they got upgraded to the suite and sell them out for a much higher price (Some will pay to bribe the front desk of the hotel to make sure that) . They then sale the room with 5-10 times the price they book, with the rate they book, when they got in hand the biggest suite to people who wanna have a private party, but can’t afford the big price tap of of the presidential Suite.
    Let’s not to forget, unlike in north America, all the Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt … brands are all with luxury 5 stars hardware. The industry is BIG!!!!!

  8. @Red remember that guest of honor only applies when the room is booked useing points. I assume it’s the cash bookings that earn status which they are trying to remove.

  9. The problem is people sell their status benefits online to strangers. Kind of kills it for the rest of us who maybe very occasionally would like our folks or kids or spouse to benefit from our hard earned status. And in most cases we’re paying anyway. They should be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

  10. On this subject, kind of: Does anyone know 1) the maximum number of cash + points rooms I’m allowed to book at the same time; and 2) the maximum number of suite upgrades I can apply to “parallel” reservations (same dates, same hotel)? I’d like to book 3 rooms in my name at a Grand Hyatt using 3 of my suite upgrades. I was able to do this online (one room at a time) and by calling to use the upgrades, but I’m not sure if I’m violating some term or condition. Kinda worried the hotel might cancel a room or two. Thoughts?

  11. Oh well, it won’t affect me at all as I never stayed at Hyatt on paid rate anymore since they killed theit loyalty program. SPG gets all my $$$ 🙂

  12. Meh. Hyatt has a “first guest” problem, as Santastico mentions. Same here, only with Marriott…

  13. I am a travel hacking enthusiast as much as anyone, but I’ve always considered the practice that Hyatt is thankfully cracking down on a “bridge too far”. However, it is by no means the only such deplorable practice that unquestionably *devalues* the game that’s been adopted just for the sake of earning a few points or saving a few bucks 🙁

  14. Well this was meant to happen since it was all over these same blogs. Certain someone in D.C. area was staying at cheap Hyatt hotels paid by mattress running bloggers during beginning of last year. I’m sure the same industry is continuing on this year and Hyatt probably had enough. Especially when this one person was second guesting on like 10+ reservations. Anyways, atleast Hyatt reached out to members directly and not through Lucky and Gary like they have for last few WoH announcements

  15. I agree with others saying there are too many people cheating the system.

    Back to your comment about using points for others and “guesting” the points owner’s status to the guest, is this only applicable to point stays? Or does it carry over to the yearly free night cat 1-4 award you get via the Hyatt CC? I’ve always assumed the CC holder has to be the one to check in. Am I wrong?

  16. @ rich — Guest of Honor bookings can be any award stays, so either points or the free night certs are fine.

  17. Frankly, I am still paying and expect the points in return. It’s the hotel industry’s fault for not being capable on identifying such cases.It’s incredibly easy is to call the hotel and tell the hotel that my partner and I are arriving on separate flights and I am running late so just allow them to check in. No further questions asked . The airline industry has inherent safe guards in place allowing them to catch this. I have done this regularly with Hiton, Marriott, and SPG. I don’t like staying at Hyatts so hoping that this does not propagate. Some call it fraud while I call it playing within the lines. Why not earn the odd 50 nights and the associated points.

  18. @DeltaCharlie — The fact that you must lie to make this “hack” work makes it, by definition, fraudulent. The rest is between you and your sense of integrity and decency…

  19. I can see why they’d want to stop this. You should only accumulate status for stays you actually take.

    That said, I’ve done this when redeeming points stays for my parents. There’s no benefit to me as you don’t accrue points during a redemption stay. I think they should do what airlines do and have a redemption group that you can gift redemption stays to.

  20. When my wife was working on her doctorate she had a two week residency every summer and about five weekends a year. I would book her room in my name with her as the second guest and, I might add, I paid for the room. The property in question always used my card on file. The first summer I drove the 2 hours plus each way to check in with her, but then there was the logistical problem of getting home since she needed a car… So over three years I was there a few times but mostly didn’t bother going since residencies are all consuming. But each summer they gave her a nice suite for a midmarket hotel (ironically far better than the rooms I’ve gotten at the same hotel when I’ve been there on my own!) which made those two weeks more bearable, along with a good breakfast every day. So, was I cheating the system? I don’t think so since was paying. Others might disagree.

  21. This thread has clearly been hijacked to the topic of whether on should follow rules. I’m actually good with that. It’s a more important topic.

    Hyatt sets the rules. We choose to follow or not. And, assuming one pushes the rules…life allows us to do it blatantly or by justification. No doubt some justify in a very different manner. My own take is we have progressed to a society that now forgives self more than we do others. We hold others to a higher standard. We do this by justifying and forgiving self, and leaving everything else to be “someone else’s” problem, issue, fault…..

    We have become a society of imposing our values (which we ourselves may not follow) on others. And, like the case of the GA legislature vs. Delta…we use our powers to retaliate. We just simply have a tough time with acceptance…of others and rules.

    You opinion of my sin is not correct. My opinion of your sin is not just an opinion. It’s a fact! We are all entitled to our opinion, but we seemingly thing only self is entitled to facts.

    Let’s suppose you have no ethics or belief the rule applies to you regarding the policy. This means you are ABOVE the law.

    If you knowingly violate the policy, it means you are OUTSIDE the law. You get to decide if the penalty is worth it.

    Some feel being outside the law is ok. Others prefer to live life within the law. Pick your side.

  22. @eric

    (1) I know of no upper bound on C+P booking.

    (2) There was a globalist over on Flytertalk who did just that and parallel applied suite upgrades for an extended family trip to three different room. WoH was fine with this. I’d just reach out to the property and make sure that they’ll honor globalist benefits on all rooms (they aren’t required to do so, though most will).

    And you have to book directly guest of honor booking cannot have TSUs applied

  23. So I regularly treat family members to free Hyatt nights via points or points & cash (at times I’m tighter on points and it’s still a great deal for them to pay the cash portion). Usually this is at a Hyatt House or Hyatt Place so Globalist benefits are fairly irrelevant.

    While points options can be handled via Guest of Honor, there’s no corresponding option for Points & Cash. Even for points bookings I often just add a second name as Guest of Honor means there’s no stay credit (a non-issue before this year ironically).

    Hmmm…has me wondering if I’ll be getting a call about some upcoming stays for some family members. IMHO I’m not abusing the program as Hyatt is getting points spent the same as if I’d spent them (and in some getting more than they’d have gotten otherwise).


  24. @DCS – interesting take on @DeltaCharlie’s post. I am frankly not sure on which side I rest.

    Franky, I like @Jeff Shilling’s last line: “Some feel being outside the law is ok. Others prefer to live life within the law. Pick your side.”

    I don’t always follow the law, based on what the law is. I also don’t care much about the rules and regulations associated with frequent flyer, hotel points or credit card benefits. For instance, I use my AMEX Plat USD200 benefits to buy gift cards for an airline of choice each year – which is actually not the intended usage in their bylaws to my interpretation. I am just annoyed that I never thought of hacking the god damn hotel system, who keep devalue our earnings each year.

  25. Allowing elite members to pass elite benefits to others, including favorable lower member booking rates or getting upgrades, is basically allowing those elite members to receive additional benefits at the expense of hotel. Allows elite members to monetize and provide or sell these benefits to friends or third parties. Hotels wising up. My prediction is this benefit gets cut in future. Can be and is abused. Battle of greedy elite members versus greedy hotels.

  26. @DCS – fair enough. My sense of integrity and ethics is hardly perturbed by scamming hotel chains where I spend more than 200 nights a year. As for elite members, ignorance is bliss.

  27. Deceptive pricing on I recently noticed that sometimes charge more for a 4 night stay than if you book the same nights as two separate stays! An extra $200. Wow!

    The difference can wipe out the value of a 4th night free.

  28. Thanks for the input, Nathan. The main globalist benefit I want for everyone is lounge access, which is included with all suites at this hotel, so I think I’ll be OK.

  29. How are they sure the people they sent the mean emails to were even doing this? I travel with friends all the time and when someone gets there first they check in and then the other people usually do not stop by the front desk later because there’s no point.

  30. Posting this here as it’s somewhat on topic. I used to make reward bookings and then later would call in (Twitter team always said they couldn’t do Guest of Honor) to change the name to my family member or friend for a Guest of Honor booking. I tried to do this again today, and the Twitter team just canceled my booking and made a new one in my friend’s name. They replied that they don’t change names on reservations any more; they must cancel and rebook. Upon further questioning, they replied that the Gold Passport phone line is operating the same way. “We are no longer able to change names on any award reservations due to increased fraudulent activity.”

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