This morning, Matthew Klint at Pen & Passport reported on potential huge changes coming to Hyatt’s loyalty program. Specifically, Gold Passport will be replaced by “The World of Hyatt,” with major changes to qualifying requirements, benefits, and more. These changes will reportedly be announced in November, and go in effect on March 17.
Current Program: Hyatt Gold Passport
Currently, Hyatt has just 2 elite tiers (excluding the basic “Gold” membership just for joining): Platinum and Diamond.
|Qualification||15 Nights or 5 Stays||50 Nights or 25 Stays|
|Room Upgrades||Higher Floor or Larger Room||Best Room, excluding Suites|
|Late Check-Out||2 PM||4 PM|
|Guaranteed Availability||72 Hours||48 Hours|
|Other Perks||–||2 United Club Passes
“Guest of Honor”
4 Suite Upgrades/Year
Enter: The World of Hyatt
Well, starting March 2017, it looks like Gold Passport is going away, and will be replaced by “World of Hyatt.” Hyatt filed a trademark for (presumably) the new loyalty program in September, so it does look like changes are coming. The domain name “worldofhyatt.com” was also registered around the same time.
According to Pen & Passport, there will be three elite tiers under the new program. Qualifying requirements will change, and members will now have to qualify either by number of nights or by revenue (in the form of base points, $1 = 5 base points). Benefits are also changing, though I’m not sure if this is the full list of what will be available.
25,000 Base Points
50,000 Base Points
|60 Nights (55 to Re-qualify)
100,000 Base Points
|Lounge Access||None||4 Per Year||Yes|
|Room Upgrades||Higher Floor or Larger Room||Best Room, excluding Club Levels and Suites||Best Room, including Standard Suites|
|Other Perks||–||Free Night (Cat 1 – 4) after 30 Nights||Free Night (Cat 1 – 4) after 30 Nights
Free Night (Cat 1 – 7) after 60 Nights
No Resort Fees on Paid Stays
Free Parking on Award Nights
Early Check-In Priority
It Will Be Much Harder to Qualify for Top Tier Status
At the top, it will soon take 60 nights to qualify for top tier Hyatt status, and you can no longer qualify by number of stays. You can qualify by revenue, but you’d have to spend $20,000 a year with Hyatt a year. This is in line with what they kind of expect, because Lifetime Diamond currently requires 1 million base points and 10 nights in the program, which under the new program, will be exactly 10 years as “Globalist” qualifying on revenue. Of course, lifetime status requirements might change with the World of Hyatt.
No doubt this is a way for Hyatt to thin the population of Diamond members they currently have. But I’d argue that part of the Diamond crowd may have come from the extremely generous status matches that Hyatt offered. I’m not blaming folks who did the Diamond challenge; after all, Hyatt offered it. And I’m not making accusations that this is why Hyatt is changing the program. But if (big if) so, Hyatt really shouldn’t punish existing Diamond members because of their own generosity.
As Diamond member, I’ve stayed 50 nights this year so far, which is just enough for me to qualify for Diamond (though I qualified on 25 stays earlier). I should be able to stay 60 nights a year, but that’ll be pushing it a bit.
There are a few reasons that make getting top-tier status with Hyatt difficult. For starter, Hyatt does not count award nights as elite-qualifying. I stay a lot with Hyatt, but that means I also redeem a lot of Hyatt, but Hyatt only awards elite-qualifying nights when they’re getting cash back. Additionally, Hyatt’s footprint is tiny compared to other major chains. With just 700 properties worldwide, and unevenly distributed at that, Hyatt loyalists do often go out of their way to stay with Hyatt.
For comparison, Hilton requires 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 HHonors Base Points ($12,000) to qualify for their top tier status (Diamond). But Hilton has almost 5,000 properties, and award nights count as elite-qualifying. Granted, they also don’t offer as many guaranteed benefits as Hyatt Diamond does, but it still helps put things in perspective.
So…About That Room/Suite Upgrade…
It looks like Hyatt is offering free suite upgrades for top tier members under “World of Hyatt”. Diamond members currently get 4 Diamond Suite Upgrades (DSUs) per year. DSUs allow you to confirm an upgrade to a standard suites, up to 7 nights per stay. Diamond Suite Upgrades are one of the biggest reasons I stay with Hyatt, because it’s so wonderful to be able to confirm a suite ahead of a special getaway or longer stay.
As it stands, Diamond members are supposed to be offered the best room available, excluding suites. In my experience, that’s only happened about 20% of the time. I’d get “upgraded” to a larger room, and when I check online, there’s of course a better non-suite room available for sale. I am not one to argue and fight with the front desk, or do the upgrade dance, so I usually just stick with what they give me, but I imagine many others have the same experience. (To be completely fair, I have also been upgraded to a suite at Hyatt without using a DSU, but that happened only twice in my 3 years with Hyatt).
Matthew Klint’s article does suggest that DSUs are here to stay, since Hyatt will be adding incentives for staying over the requirements. For every 10 nights in addition to the nights needed to earn “Globalist” status, members will get one DSU. Not sure if they will start at 4, as it currently is, and earn extra as they stay extra, or if the DSUs are solely just an incentive for “over-qualifying.” It does look like the new DSUs might only be good for 6 nights, instead of the current 7 nights.
But if (again, a big if)Hyatt is removing DSUs in favor of “suite upgrade all the time subject to availability,” that would be a huge letdown in my view. It would actually put Hyatt more in line with what Starwood and Hilton offer. Starwood offers complimentary suite upgrades to its top-tier elites based on availability. Hilton, on the other hand, offers it based on how the front desk staff feels; they simply say “room upgrades can include suites.”
Of course, there is a possibility that Hyatt could execute this perfectly, and Globalists will indeed be upgraded to a suite based on real availability. But judging by how front desk staffs currently treats the “upgrade to best room” policy, I’m not super hopeful.
There are still many unanswered questions, like whether existing Diamond perks will stick around. Currently, Diamond members get 2 United Club passes a year, which is nice, but not a deal breaker if removed. They also get a “Guest of Honor” perk, where they can book stays for others that also confer Diamond benefits. I love using this perk to book stays for my parents, since they can then get treated as Diamond members when they stay on my award nights.
There is also the question of what would happen to people (like myself) who qualified for Diamond this year, when the new program kicks in. Will we get “upgraded” to Globalist, or need to complete extra stays? Will our Globalist status then mean we only need 55 nights to re-qualify, or will we need to have to pay the “initiation” cost of 5 nights to enter the World of Hyatt?
Takeaway, For Now
Many of the rumored changes are positive. People who stay in the middle of the pack will now get a free night certificate (for Category 1 – 4) after staying 30 nights, and get lounge access (4 times/year) when they couldn’t before. Upgrades for top-tier elites will now include standard suites, and in addition to the free night certificates.
But between their limited footprint and policy of not counting award nights as elite qualifying, it will be harder for everyone to qualify for top-tier status. Still, there is no denying that Hyatt currently treats their Diamond members very well, and I haven’t really had many Hyatt stays I wasn’t happy about.
Personally, whether I decide to stay loyal with Hyatt will heavily depend not on only how Hyatt plans to treat “Globalists,” but also how well they execute it. The World of Hyatt has the potential to be a wonderful place.
(HT View from the Wing)