Hyatt Encourages Phantom Hotel Stays to Earn Faster Free Nights Credits

At the bottom of the Scott McCartney piece I linked to below, there’s an interesting add-on: Hyatt is fully aware of, and supports, the practice of booking hotel rooms just for the purpose of accumulating Faster Free Nights credits.

Hyatt Hotels Corp. currently offers its Gold Passport program members a free night for every two nights at one of the chain’s properties through Jan. 31. The free nights come with no blackout dates but have to be used by March 31. Charles Witt, a facilities planner in Washington, D.C., stopped by a suburban Hyatt Place hotel on his way home from work several times this fall, swiped his credit card to buy a $50 room and went home, never opening the door to the hotel room.

For every $100 he spent, he got a free night at any Hyatt. He booked three free nights at the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo over New Year’s — rooms that would have cost him $600 a night.

“Once you start on this road, it’s very hard to get off,” says Mr. Witt.

Hyatt says the promotion is meant to engender loyalty, and most customers use it more traditionally, collecting free nights for regular stays. But the company welcomes people so passionate about its hotels that they’ll go to elaborate lengths to stay at Hyatt.

“We don’t discourage that,” says Jeff Zidell, vice president of Hyatt’s Gold Passport program. “There are those extremists in whatever business you’re in who do what they can to get the most out of it.”

I love it, and Hyatt really gets it: the company welcomes people so passionate about its hotels that they’ll go to elaborate lengths to stay at Hyatt.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I wouldn’t refer to what Charles Witt does as a “phantom stay” but rather a “mattress run.” Phantom stays, as discussed on FT’s Hyatt forum, are done by phone check-ins without ever being physically present to check-in via either front desk or on-property kiosk. Phantom stays don’t count as an eligible stay per Hyatt T&C’s.

    But the post itself is invaluable info for those interested in a top-notch hotel frequent stay program. And with Hyatt’s current Next Big Thing promo, you can earn Diamond status in just 13 stays by 12/31 along with 6 FFN’s.

  2. Also forgot to mention that you can potentially save an additional 20% by purchasing Hyatt gift cards ($100 in value for $80) at certain Costo locations and using them for your Hyatt stays.

  3. Sorry, you are correct, a phantom stay involves not actually showing up. Charles is showing up and not actually using the room.

    Phantom stays are technically ineligible for FFN credit. However there are a couple of properties that credit prepaid no show stays as qualifying. And they’re uber-cheap on weekends, too… 🙂

  4. You have to figure that Hyatt gets enough “breakage” from FFN awards that do not get used that they can publicly support this endeavor. You are still giving Hyatt revenue that they would not have otherwise received and are (theoretically) receiving a free hotel room during a down demand time in return. Plus, as Hyatt mentions, you develop some level of corporate loyalty and they get to feature some of their top hotels to savvy travelers who may just PAY for that room the next time because they enjoyed their stay so much.

    Kudos to Hyatt for “getting it.”

  5. I absolutely love Hyatt and Goldpassport. They have always gone out of their way to do whatever they can to help in a prompt and courteous manner.

    In my opinion, Hyatt FFN is simply the best hotel loyalty promotion out there today. I love it and participate in it every year and I usually go in for 20+ FFNs.

  6. You must visit the Hyatt Express Check-In Kiosk or the front desk on the scheduled date of arrival and physically occupy the assigned guest room. Failure to visit the Hyatt Express Check-In Kiosk or the front desk may result in your room being released as an early departure, and your payment card being charged one night’s room accommodations. These stays are considered phantom stays. Phantom stays are not eligible for Hyatt Gold Passport points, credit toward tier status or participation in bonus points or other promotional offers. A phantom stay is described as a stay where a guest uses Hyatt Web Check-In or 1-800-CHECK-IN to check into a hotel but does not physically stay at the hotel.

  7. Yes… the title should be changed to indicate “mattress runs” vs “phantom stays”. Hyatt does not allow phantom stays anylonger, however, the Denver Tech Center was a good one for this a few years ago (guilty) but that ability has been shut down. There have been some discussions amongst friends about a small handful of properties that still give credit for “no-shows” but that is not the norm and should not be considered.

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