Friday, October 28th, 2016, 12:47 pm
It wasn’t long ago that Hyatt was the most generous hotel chain around.
They offered “Faster Free Nights” promotions from 2002 through 2010 that offered a free night in any Hyatt after every 2 stays. In 2009 I was earning 13,500 United miles+6,000 Hyatt points+1 free night at any Hyatt in the world for every 2 stays that I made. I used faster free nights promotions to stay for dozens of nights in wonderful Park Hyatts in Sydney and Melbourne and Hyatts in Maui and Kauai .
In 2009 Hyatt only had 5 categories with their most expensive awards costing just 15K points. Today Hyatt has 7 award categories and the most expensive rooms now cost 30K. Suites in those categories have gone from 22K points to 48K points per night.
Hyatt also used to offer G bonuses where you would earn thousands of extra Hyatt points per stay, but over the years they continued to eliminate promotions like faster free nights, Platinum extras certificates, and G bonuses, while they made redemptions more expensive.
Hyatt remained a decent value, but it was no longer as lucrative as it had been.
Now Hyatt is changing the name of their “Gold Passport” program to “World of Hyatt.”
They even hired my 5 year old son to design their new program’s logo. Only took him a few minutes to crank it out:
They are not changing the redemption side of the program for now.
However instead of classy elite names like Platinum and Diamond the new elite levels will be Discoverist, Explorist, and Globalist.
Could they possibly have chosen more awkward elite tier names?
They’ve added a lot of complexity to the program.
But worst of all Hyatt is eliminating the ability to qualify for elite status based on stays. All they care about now is the number of total nights or how much you spend.
Currently Hyatt cardholders get Platinum status. As of 3/1/17 they’ll be downgraded to Discoverist status which now has 2 elite levels on top of it. Discoverist only earns a 10% point bonus on paid stays, though current Hyatt cardholders will retain the old 15% bonus until 3/1/18. Hyatt also clarifies that Discoverists only receive the best room in the same category that you reserved. Discoverist retains Platinum’s 2pm late checkout benefit.
Explorist is a new tier between the old Diamond and Platinum levels. It requires 30 paid nights or $10,000 of Hyatt spending each year. Currently you can get top-tier Diamond status with 25 stays, so this level can be even harder to attain than the current Diamond level. However Explorists only get 2pm checkout and don’t get suite upgrades at checkin or in advance, so benefits are much less than current Diamond status. Explorists get a 20% point bonus on paid stays compared to 30% for current diamonds. Explorists don’t get club access, though they do get 4 certificates for club access that can be used on paid and award stays up to 1 year after the status is earned.
Globalist is the new top-tier status. It requires a whopping 60 paid nights or $20,000 of Hyatt spending each year, a massive increase from the current diamond status that can be earned with 25 stays. Once you have Globalist status you can retain it by staying 55 nights in subsequent years. Globalists retain diamond benefits like a 30% point bonus on paid stays, club access or breakfast in hotels without a club, and 4pm late checkout. Globalists do get a few new benefits, including a dedicated agent to help with reservations, upgrades to standard suites at checkin if available, waived resort fees on all stays, and waived parking fees on award stays. The biggest benefit is that they retain 4 suite upgrade certificates and that they’ll be able to be used on award stays. Globalists can also earn an additional suite upgrade certificate or 10K points for each additional 10 nights that they stay past 60 nights, up to 100 paid nights per year.
Hyatt will eliminate the welcome amenity which offers 1,000 points back per stay that current Diamond members earn. Because apparently it now makes sense to eliminate nice perks like this when making it significantly harder to attain top-tier status.
All elite levels will continue to get premium WiFi and all members will get free WiFi. All members also continue to get their resort fee waived on award stays.
Cash and points stays will continue to count as paid stays.
There are a few nice additions:
If you stay at 5 Hyatt brands (Hyatt Place, Andaz, Regency, Park, Grand, etc) after 3/1/17 you’ll get a free category 1-4 award night. If you stay at 10 brands you’ll get another night. Those award nights are valid for 1 year.
If you stay 30 nights in a year you’ll get a free category 1-4 award night, but it has to be used within 120 days.
If you stay 60 nights in a year you’ll get a free category 1-7 award night, but it has to be used within 120 days.
If you spend $50K on a Hyatt card in a calendar year you’ll get Explorist status. However the Hyatt card will no longer earn night and stay towards elite status as it does now to make earning Diamond easier. The card will offer no shortcuts to the new Globalist tier.
The MGM MLife matching will also be devalued. Under the new program Hyatt Discoverists will get MLife Pearl status while Hyatt Explorists and Globalists will get MLife Gold status. Currently Hyatt Platinums get MLife Gold status while Hyatt Diamonds get MLife Platinum status. If you have current Hyatt status you should call 800-323-7249 to match to a higher tier than will be possible next year.
If you have qualified for Platinum status this year you’ll be a Discoverist in 2017. If you had Diamond status this year and don’t requalify you’ll be an Explorist in 2017. If you requalified for diamond status this year you’ll be a Globalist in 2017. If you have enough nights or spending for a higher tier in the new program than the current program you’ll get the higher status in the new program.
One small “loophole” is that you’ll be able to qualify based on stays in January and February of 2017 before the new program starts. That means you can stay 25 times in those months and earn Globalist status that will be valid until 3/1/19. Plus if you have a Hyatt card if you spend $20K you’ll earn 2 stay credits and 5 night credit and if you spend another $20K you’ll earn another 3 stay credits and 5 night credits towards elite status.
Overall there are a few positives, but on the whole this is a massive devaluation of the Hyatt elite program, which is currently the best in the industry.
I will give kudos to Hyatt for giving a nice amount of advance notice to these changes though.
Hyatt has traditionally had a strong program because their footprint is far smaller than the other major chains. Frankly it’s surprising that they are announcing these changes before waiting to see what the new Marriott/SPG program looks like. Marriott/SPG has had a shockingly good start to their merger, so hopefully they give Hyatt a run for their money when those details come together in 2017/2018.
Will these changes affect your hotel loyalty?