Hyatt’s new program offers a free night:
- Category 1 – 4 after staying 30 nights during the year
- Category 1 – 7 after staying 60 nights during the year
Crucially, these free nights do not count towards elite status (so I hate using them!) and more importantly expire after 120 days. You don’t merely have to make a booking within that time. Your stay has to occur within 120 days of earning the night.
Hyatt says that the program is all about you and understanding your needs. They’re telling you that you need to stay within 120 days, regardless of your work schedule or your kids’ school.
I hit 30 nights for the year over a week ago.
I didn’t pay too much attention to the threshold, until I noticed in my AwardWallet account that there was a free night deposited.
Though the free night has been there, and the clock is ticking on expiration, Hyatt didn’t tell me about it. They’re keeping it a secret.
I know you’re never supposed to “ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence” — and Hyatt certainly isn’t known for its IT — yet this is beyond frustrating. Hyatt claims the short expiration isn’t about breakage, a hope you won’t use the free night. But then they award it without telling you about it, it’s a secret free night, meaning that expiration is even closer than the terms suggest.
Jeff Zidell says that they want to celebrate the achievement, so have you use your free night close to when the achievement happens. But the 120 day expiration also has the effect not only of making it impossible for some members to use, but also of having other members suboptimally use it — since you’ve got to use it quickly, you’re more likely to use it at a cheaper property than if you had saved the night to deploy on the most advantageous stay.
Now I don’t actually think that keeping their awarding of the free night a secret is intentional. For instance, my 30th night was earned at the recently re-branded Hyatt Centric Arlington. Hyatt awards free nights for stays across multiple brands, and they’re still treating it as a ‘Hyatt’ rather than a ‘Centric’ (and so when they finally fix this, and I stay at the property again, it will likely count as a second brand — making it easier for me to earn the free night).
Hyatt Centric Arlington
Credits as a Hyatt Not a Centric
However not telling members about the free night has the effect of increasing breakage, reducing optimal use, and lowering costs. And reducing costs is a huge component of the World of Hyatt program.
It wouldn’t be a problem not to tell members about awarding them a free night for a couple of weeks if it expired after a year. But if they’re going to expire free nights if not used for travel within 120 days they darned well need to tell members immediately when one has been credited to an account.