Hyatt MGM Partnership: Hyatt Gold Passport announced this morning that it is linking up with MGM Resorts to provide reciprocal points earning and redemption (starting June 20) and reciprocal elite recognition (coming in August).
Details on how each piece of this partnership will work are in various sections of this post.
Hyatt Gold Passport members will be able to earn and burn at the 9 MGM Resorts in Las Vegas which participate in the MGM M life program, and Hyatt’s elite members will get elite recognition at those properties. Similarly, MGM’s M life members will earn tier credits and elite members get status recognition throughout Hyatt’s portfolio.
Three MGM Vegas hotels that aren’t part of M life aren’t participating, and MGM’s properties outside of Vegas aren’t a part of the deal at this time. It doesn’t include, then, the MGM Detroit, Macau, or Sanya. It doesn’t include Beau Rivage or Circus Circus.
The MGM hotels the new arrangement includes are Aria, Bellagio, Vdara, MGM Grand, Signature at MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, THEHotel at Mandalay Bay, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Luxor, Excalibur.
The fountains in front of the Bellagio
I spoke with Jeff Zidell, Hyatt’s Vice President for the Gold Passport program, this morning. I found it interesting that the MGM properties – even those that participate in M Life – outside of Las Vegas are not part of this arrangement. He told me that they may be included in the future, it’s part of the road map and that Las Vegas was the first stage of the rollout (although he did not offer guarantees or a timetable for adding in the other hotels).
While no doubt neither program would describe it this way, since MGM’s M Life is a recognition program rather than a points program and you can earn both M Life credit and Gold Passport points for stays at MGM’s M Life properties in Las Vegas, in some ways Gold Passport points become the currency of MGM’s hotels.
How the Partnership Will Work
You need to be a member of both Hyatt Gold Passport and M life in order to take advantage of the earning relationship (there’s no reason not to join both – they don’t make you join M life in order to burn Gold Passport points at an MGM hotel though). You provide your Hyatt Gold Passport number at checkin in addition to an M life number to earn Hyatt points for an MGM stay (any points posting problems are handled by MGM by email or telephone support). Points are earned on room rate and on qualifying incidental spend up to $5000 per stay (and not on casino spend), and elite bonuses apply.
Stays and nights at the participating MGM properties count towards Gold Passport elite status. (Online travel agency and opaque bookings naturally don’t count.)
Accruing Hyatt points doesn’t trade off with earning MGM’s M life tier credits at MGM properties — you get to earn both. But at Hyatt properties you do have to choose between Gold Passport points and M life tier credits.
There will be no diamond suite upgrade certificate redemption at MGM properties.
Hyatt’s FAQ on the relationship (.pdf) answers many questions.
Redeeming Hyatt Gold Passport for Stays in Las Vegas
Each MGM Resort in Las Vegas is assigned to a Hyatt Gold Passport redemption category, so it conforms to the existing points redemption chart. Redemption is for standard rooms only, and will be able to be booked online.
It doesn’t look like hotel category assignments are up yet on the Gold Passport website, but I’ve discovered that they have hotels spread out across all of the redemption categories except for category 1.
- Category 2: Excalibur
- Category 3: Luxor
- Category 4: Monte Carlo, New York New York
- Category 5: MGM Grand, Signature at MGM Grand, Vdara, Mirage
- Category 6: Aria, Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, THEhotel at Mandalay Bay
Vegas is a unique place for hotel rates — they go up over the weekend, down during the week, and the city is quite seasonal. So it may wind up being a great redemption value even at category 6 to use points in Las Vegas over the weekend in the fall, but not likely a good deal during the week in July.
Resort fees will apply to free nights, and blackout dates will apply (so that may limit some of the outsized benefit — I’m guessing it will be a challenge to redeem during the Consumer Electronics Show for instance!).
You will be able to redeem Hyatt credit card free nights — the free nights you get at signup (albeit even Diamonds will get their free nights in standard rooms) and the annual “up to category 4” nights as well.
Reciprocal Elite Status Recognition
Starting in August members of each program will be able to have status in the other program.
Here’s what Hyatt Gold Passport members can expect:
- Gold (without status) maps to M Life Sapphire (entry level).
- Gold Passport Platinum maps to Gold (mid-tier of 5 levels)
- Gold Passport Diamond status maps to M Life Platinum (second highest)
Gold Passport members aren’t given MGM’s Noir level which gets things like guaranteed restaurant reservations and ‘best seat in the house’. Still, there are upgrades and even very Vegas-y things like priority in the taxi queue.
M Life members will be recognized as well:
- M Life Pearl and Sapphire levels map to Gold Passport Gold (non-elite).
- Gold, Platinum, and Noir maps to Gold Passport Platinum
MGM’s members aren’t comped to Hyatt’s top tier, either.
The M Life benefits table is here.
It’s an open question that I’m working to find the answer to how status will work on an ongoing basis – whether you get to re-match each year, whether you have to re-match each year or if it works automatically.
“Hotel Codesharing” Seems Like a Great Strategic Move
When I first heard a rumor that “Gold Passport may be adding a new partner” I hoped it was a hotel partner and not just something like Rewards Network dining. Hyatt offers the best value for points earning and redemptions at top end hotels, and the best opportunity to upgrade to suites. Not to mention the best breakfast benefits.
But it’s major constraint is lack of reach. It has about 500 hotels, which means it just isn’t everywhere you need to be. Which is why I need some sort of status in a ‘backup program’ — to me that’s meant Hilton but could just as easily be Marriott or Priority Club.
The strategy here nearly maps onto exactly what I would do. Supposedly Hyatt almost got a presence in Las Vegas a few years back, that the Cosmopolitan at one point was going to be a Grand Hyatt. Right now the city with the most hotel rooms is a near-vacuum for Hyatt (there’s a Hyatt Place a mile-plus off the strip), so this is a good strategic move.
I think of it as taking a lesson from airlines with codeshares, but with better reciprocal recognition. If I were running the Gold Passport program I’d be looking to plug other (and bigger) gaps in their footprint — probably linking up with a chain in Europe. Jeff Zidell agreed that this could be a template that could be expanded, if the right partners were in place who saw the opportunities as really win-win.