When Hyatt’s confirmed suite upgrades were introduced they were awarded at the beginning of an elite year, expired after 12 months, but could be applied to future reservations after their expiration date as long as they were confirmed prior to expiration.
Then when Hyatt implemented a new member database suite upgrades expired 12 months after being awarded without the ability to apply them to future reservations.
Park Hyatt Vendome Paris
When Hyatt announced their World of Hyatt elite program changes I identified a rather perverse incentive they were creating on day one.
- Suite upgrades were awarded to top tier elites when qualifying for status (instead of the start of the elite year)
- They expired 12 months from being awarded
- It can make sense to avoid staying at Hyatt and put off re-qualfying in order to have later-expiring upgrades to use for a big trip.
Splash Suite at the Andaz 5th Avenue Has – At Times – Been the Designated Suite for Upgrades
I was in exactly that position in the fall and slowed down my Hyatt stays.
Hyatt is fixing this. They’re extending the validity of the suite upgrade awards members already have through February 28 of the following year regardless of when you earn them. The same applies for the four club lounge access awards given to Explorists each year.
- You earn them when you quality for status.
- They expire at the end of the next member year (February 28) instead of 12 months from when they’re deposited into your account.
- That rewards – rather than penalizes – qualifying earlier in the year and staying more with Hyatt.
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Awards earned in 2018 will expire February 29, 2020. That holds true as well for additional suite upgrades selected after 70, 80, 90, and 100 nights.
They’re also changing how lifetime top tier elite member suite upgrades expire.
Upon achieving Lifetime Globalist status, members will receive four suite upgrade awards valid through the remainder of that year plus 14 months. Annually, Lifetime Globalists will receive four suite upgrade awards on or around March 1 valid for the remainder of that year plus 14 months. In addition, Lifetime Globalists who stay 60 qualifying nights or earn 100,000 Base Points in a calendar year will receive four additional suite upgrade awards that are valid for the remainder of the year they are earned plus 14 months.
Expiration dates on suite upgrade awards are supposed to be updated in member accounts today, though that hasn’t happened yet at least for my account (I did earn one suite upgrade award in January 2018.)
Over the last six months Hyatt has been fixing some of the pain points in their new program. At the end of 2018 they announced free night awards for achieving status would last 180 days instead of 120, and award nights would count towards status. They even counted award nights and free certificate nights towards status retroactively to 2017 stays for 2018 status.
Confirmed suite upgrades can still be improved so that they’re more usable and to prevent hotels from undermining the strong loyalty they engender.
- Hyatt should define what a suite is. A suite is more than one room. And a standard suite is the most common suite room type with more than one room. It shouldn’t be acceptable to say that only the couple of suites on the ground floor are standard.
- Hyatt should allow selection of room types up to the standard suite category. Starwood’s Suite Night Awards will let you pick the room types you’d be open to being upgraded into. That could include a room that’s smaller than a standard suite, but still desirable. For instance if no poolside suite of sadness is available at the Andaz Maui, allow suite upgrades to confirm into an ocean view room.
Park Hyatt Chennai
Beyond suite upgrades there’s a lot of work to be done on the Hyatt program still.
- The level below top tier, Explorist, isn’t competitive with Gold at Hilton or Marriott. They currently offer 4 upgrades to club lounge per year, while Marriott and Hilton offer their mid-tier elites lounge or breakfast on most stays.
- The credit card is great to get for the signup bonus and annual free night, but there’s no longer a reason to spend on the card. Chase’s Ultimate Rewards products earn points faster and transfer to Hyatt and the card no longer provides nights towards status for spend.
- There’s no meaningful benefit for elites at limited-service properties, and Hyatt Place and Hyatt House represent half the chain’s portfolio. Without the check-in amenity all I get for my loyalty is a bottle of water.
Chase re-upped its Hyatt deal and told me they’re working on ways to improve the card. I’ve seen some surveys of possible ideas for how they might do so.
The biggest challenge Hyatt faces is its footprint, only 10% the number of properties that Marriott has. Their competitive advantage is their loyalty program. They need to continue to invest here so that guests have a strong reason to go out of their way to choose Hyatt properties even when their hotels are less convenient or more expensive.