This morning I wrote about leaked changes to Hyatt’s new elite program that starts in March.
Most of the information was accurate but there’s a lot more here than previously reported. I spoke with Hyatt about the changes this morning and there’s more benefits and also information on the transition. (And another way to qualify for status, too.)
There’s even the long awaited opportunity for confirmed suite upgrades to be valid on award stays, as well as more free nights for all members.
Bottom-line is that there are real benefit improvements for folks staying 60 nights but that people who were qualifying on stays alone, or who aren’t able to get from 50 up to 60 nights with Hyatt — will see fewer benefits starting in 2018.
And with Hyatt’s foot print of around 600 hotels, versus 4000 or more for the global chains, it can be tough for many members to stay with Hyatt 60 nights. I don’t think I’d want to be a Diamond member based outside the U.S. for instance.
Roof top infinity pool at the Park Hyatt Chennai
Qualifying for Elite Status
As previously reported, Hyatt is introducing 3 elite tiers in place of the current 2 (and giving them rather silly names):
- Discoverist: 10 nights, 25k base points ($5000 spend), or 3 meetings
- Explorist: 30 nights, 50k base points ($10,000 spend), or 10 meetings
- Globalist: 60 nights (but only 55 nights to requalify), 100k base points ($20,000 spend), or 20 meetings
Hyatt’s Jeff Zidell explains that they chose ‘active verb names for their tier status, reflecting the adventure of travel’ and ‘the reason why [their members] travel’. They wanted to “speak to the aspirations of members.”
It seems that signing contracts for meeting rooms at a Hyatt Place in a developing country could be the new way to top tier now that qualifying on stays alone is out. Note that meetings, and not catered events, are what count here for status.
Sky lobby of the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
How Your Current Status Maps to the New Program
When the program launches in March, everyone that qualified as a Diamond in 2016 for the 2017 calendar year (anyone with Diamond through February 2018) gets full ‘Globalist’ benefits. So if you stayed 25 times or 50 nights in 2016, even though that wouldn’t be enough for the top tier in the new program you’ll still get top tier through February 2018.
Anyone who stays 50 nights in January and February 2017 becomes a Diamond under the old program and therefore is given Globalist status.
Anyone who was a Diamond in 2016 but didn’t requalify will be given Explorer status regardless of whether their activity qualified them for it.
Anyone who has Platinum status for 2017 gets at least Discoverist status.
However if your qualifying activity is enough for a higher tier, you’ll get that — so if you were a Platinum with 30 nights you’d receive Explorer status in the new program.
In other words, no one gets hurt in the transition year, your status will only fall in February 2018 which is more than a year away. That’s exactly how I wish all programs handled elite benefits changes.
What’s more, anyone with Globalist status in the new program will be given a free night on March 1 upon launch of the new program with no category cap (up to category 7). That’s a great way to get top tier elites excited about the new offerings.
Park Hyatt Dubai
More Suite Upgrades, Now Valid on Award Stays
The big change for top elites is that they aren’t just entitled to four confirmed suite upgrades each year.
- They are entitled to suite upgrades if they do not use a confirmed upgrade instrument but there’s a suite available at check-in.
- They can earn additional confirmed suite upgrades beyond the four they receive qualifying for status. At each of 70, 80, 90, and 100 nights they will receive a choice benefit of an additional confirmed suite upgrade or 10,000 points.
- Confirmed suite upgrades will be valid on award nights and not just paid stays. (Everyone earning top tier, please let out a collective “Woo hoo!”)
At the beginning of 2016 Hyatt changed the way they awarded suite upgrades to Diamonds. They gave them at the start of the new elite year, but began requiring that they be used for stays only through the end of the elite year.
They will again award suite upgrades in March 2017. However going forward they will award suite upgrades when a member re-qualifies instead of making them wait until the new program year. Unfortunately suite upgrades, once awarded, will expire after 12 months.
Some ‘Globalists’ will want to put off requalification, booking away from Hyatt, as a result if they have a vacation they’re planning more than 12 months into the future. This may be mitigated somewhat though by the ability to earn extra suite upgrades for each additional 10 nights.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Upgrade benefits in the new program are:
- Discoverist: upgrade to best available room within type booked, which may mean a better view or higher floor.
- Explorist: best available room excluding club floor and suites
- Globalist: best available room up to standard suites
60 Nights Gets You an Ambassador
Hyatt is introducing My Hyatt Concierge as a Globalist benefit. A member will be assigned to a dedicated reservations agent to take care of Hyatt needs.
I’ve been a member of Hyatt’s Private Line program since around 2010, back when any Diamond member could be added to it if they knew to ask. (You could simply ping Hyatt’s social media representative on an online forum and they’d get you added.)
They closed that option several years ago. Fortunately they didn’t kick out those that were already in it.
I’ve been through several dedicated agents since I was added to the program. I’ve found some to be excellent and others to be awful (when I had an awful agent, I asked to switch and the request was always granted, I had heard through the grapevine of other frequent flyers which agents were good and made specific requests).
In general I’ve found the program to be useful:
- I love being able to e-mail an agent for reservation requests (combining different rate types into a single reservation, querying whether cash and points rates are available) and confirmed suite upgrade requests instead of having to call for things that cannot be accomplished on the website.
- The better agents have done followup work for me — perhaps award nights weren’t available when I asked but they kept checking and made bookings for me without further prompting when the space did open up. The same goes for suite uppgrades. I wouldn’t have to place new calls constantly, they would check and even reach out to hotels about non-standard room types.
- I’ve even had agents proactively check for lower room rates, and re-book reservations for me.
- I have someone to query when I have questions like an email address for a reservations manager at a property.
Some were less proactive than others. Some have consistently made mistakes with my reservations. And one – my first one – was simply non-responsive.
So we’ll see how the program works in practice.
Breakfast Benefit is Changing
Explorists – mid-tier elites – will get club lounge access 4 times a year up to 7 nights each stay. This will be valid on paid or award nights. It’s sort of the return of the ‘Platinum Extras’ certificate program.
View from the Club Lounge, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
Top tier Globalist members will receive club access, and where there’s no club lounge available will receive restaurant breakfast for up to 2 adults and 2 children. This is a change from the previous ‘up to 4 registered guests’ in the room.
Unfortunately they are eliminating the 2500 point bonus given to Diamonds staying at a hotel with a club lounge where that lounge is closed.
Diamond Room Service Breakfast at the Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris
Annual Free Nights for Elites
Explorists and Globalists will receive a free night upon reaching the tier.
In 2017, a member hitting 30 nights (or qualifying based on spend or meetings) will receive a free night valid up to category 4. That night must be for stays within 120 days.
Then upon reaching Globalist status they’ll receive another free night, this time without a category limit, although again it must be consumed (not reserved) within 120 days.
The four month timeframe to actually stay on the free night will, I predict, limit Hyatt’s costs through breakage.
View from the Park Hyatt Sydney
Early Check-in, Late Check-out
Discoverists and Explorists keep the current 2pm guaranteed late checkout benefit (that doesn’t apply at resorts or casinos).
Globalists keep the current Diamond 4pm late check-out benefit.
Globalists also receive priority for early check-in. This is a new published benefit, but it’s not actually a change in practice. I learned in spring 2012 that hotels actually receive guidance to accommodate Diamond early check-in requests when possible, and that continues.
This isn’t like Intercontinental Royal Ambassador’s “guaranteed 8am check-in” or even Starwood’s “Your24” which confirms whether off-hours checkin will be possible in advance, unfortunately.
Parking, Resort Fees, and Water Oh My!
Hyatt already does not collect resort fees on reward nights. They’re extending that to paid nights for Globalist members as well.
Globalists will also receive free hotel parking on award stays (whenever parking can be put on the member’s folio) but not on cash and points or paid stays.
All elites will receive a bottle of water daily in all hotels, though properties may fulfill that in different ways — it may be available for pickup, for instance, rather than offered in-room.
Hyatt’s Guest of Honor benefit to gift elite status to friends or family when giving them an award stay continues, as does Hyatt’s sending out 2 United club passes each year to top tier elites.
MGM M life Rewards Benefits are Being Downgraded
M life’s resorts are mostly casino focused and mostly in Las Vegas. Until now Platinum status received M life Gold which is good for room upgrades, free self parking, priority check-in and restaurant reservations, and VIP Line Access for nightclubs and pool day clubs. Hyatt’s Diamond got M life Platinum which let you skip the valet and taxi queues.
It was somewhat awkward that Hyatt Platinum came with Hyatt’s credit card, and got M life Gold while M life’s new credit card came with lesser status.
I asked for and was given a chart that shows how the new elite tiers will map with MGM M life elite tiers.
|World of Hyatt Membership Tier||Reciprocal M life Rewards Membership Tier|
|M life Rewards Membership Tier||Reciprocal World of Hyatt Membership Tier|
Hyatt’s Credit Card Will No Longer Help Towards Top Tier Elite Status
I was sort of counting on spending $40,000 on my credit card for 10 elite nights now that it’s going to take 10 more nights to earn top tier status. That benefit is going away.
Instead, I’m told that:
- The card will come with Discoverist status (the ‘lower’ Platinum tier).
- $50,000 in spend on the card each calendar year will earn Explorist status through the following year.
- There’s a benefit for existing cardmembers and those who sign up before March 1, though: those who become cardmembers by March 1 will receive an additional 5% bonus on base points earned for in-hotel spend with Hyatt and MGM M life Resorts through February 28, 2018 — but this benefit goes away for Explorist and Globalist members whose in-hotel earn bonus is higher already.
No More Check-in Amenity and No More Guaranteed Turndown Service
The program will no longer offer a food and beverage amenity or 1000 points for top tier elites.
And the nightly turndown service that Hyatt introduced 5 years ago for Diamonds, even in hotels that don’t otherwise offer it, is being ended.
So Globalists will have a real answer to the question, “Turn down for what?”
Lifetime Elite Status Qualification is Changing
Hyatt will announce changes to lifetime elite status qualification on March 1. Existing Lifetime Diamond members will receive Lifetime Globalist status.
Currently it takes $200,000 in spend (1 million base points) and 10 years in the program to earn lifetime Diamond. They aren’t telling us what the changes are, but I expect some form of lifetime status to be easier to achieve, though since Globalist is harder to achieve I wonder whether lifetime Globalist will be as well.
Sadly I won’t hit lifetime Diamond before then. If you’re close, you might want to push on the accelerator. And if you just miss it, and they do move the goal posts, I’d make a personal appeal.
An Updated Benefits Chart
|Nights Required, or||0||10||30||60 (55 to re-qualify)|
|Based Points Required, or||0||25000||50000||100000|
|No Resort Fee||On Award Nights||On Award Nights||On Award Nights||On Award Nights & Eligible Paid Rates|
|Upgrade at Check-in||N/A||Best Room in Category Reserved (higher floor, better view)||Best Room Excluding Club, Suites||Best Room Including Standard Suites|
|Confirmed Suite Upgrades||N/A||N/A||N/A||Up to 8: 4 on qualifying + choice of 1 or 10k points at 70/80/90/100 nights|
|Free Night on Qualifying||N/A||N/A||Cat 1-4, Travel Within 120 Days||Cat 1-7, Travel Within 120 Days|
|Lounge Access||N/A||N/A||Confirmed 4 Times Annually, Up to 7 Nights Each||Yes|
|Breakfast||N/A||N/A||N/A||When no club lounge, up to 2 adults and 2 children|
|Complimentary Parking on Award Nights (Not Cash/Points)||N/A||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Dedicated My Hyatt Concierge Reservation Agent||N/A||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Guest of Honor Benefit Gifting Award Stays||N/A||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Two annual United Club passes||N/A||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Priority Early Check-in||N/A||N/A||N/A||Yes|
|Guaranteed Room Availability||N/A||N/A||72 hours||48 hours|
|Free Daily Bottle of Water||N/A||Yes||Yes||Yes|
A New Opportunity for Everyone to Earn Free Nights
Hyatt will give a free night (category 1 through 4, valid for a year) after trying 5 different brands.
They’ll give a second free night when you hit your 10th brand. There’s no time limit for reaching these milestones. As long as the benefit remains you’ll receive a free night even if it takes you several years to hit the goal. Historical stays don’t count, though, they’ll track your activity March 1 onward.
What it All Means
Hyatt shared a video promoting the launch of their new program, which is sort of just people doing things and I guess Hyatt wants to be a part of that.
Hyatt’s new top tier elite tier great with more suite upgrades, upgrades without using confirmed instruments, more free nights, and a dedicated concierge.
It’s those marginal Diamonds making just 25 stays or who given Hyatt’s limited footprint can’t stretch beyond 50 nights that lose out.
Unlike airlines, who have been revamping their programs supposedly with their best customers in mind but who are really just devaluing for those customers less than everyone else, Hyatt is genuinely doing more for their most frequent customers here.
The loss is wallet share from leisure travelers who went out of their way to stay with Hyatt because of the Gold Passport program, and elites ‘on the bubble’. And I don’t love their taking away the 2500 point bonus for closed club lounges and getting a bit chintzier on breakfast (no more inviting all your friends at the Hyatt Olive 8).
So it’s a net positive for the road warrior with the option to focus on Hyatt. I’ve long said that they need to continually up their game to woo these customers. It takes work to stay loyal to Hyatt, while everyone can merely stumble into a Marriott or a Hilton if they wish.