Hyatt Launching Two New Diamond Benefits March 1: Gifting Status on Award Nights, and Lounge Access

Hyatt Gold Passport is introducing two new benefits for top tier Diamond members.

Ability to Make Your Friends and Family Diamond for an Award Stay

Hyatt calls the program ‘Guest of Honor‘ — starting March 1 when a Diamond member redeems points for someone else’s award stay, that person will receive Diamond benefits for the stay.

That way Diamond members can treat their family and friends to the same kind of experience with Hyatt that they receive themselves. I love the idea of letting Diamond members give their friends and family the same Hyatt experience that they have, it lets them share their love for the brand in a way they can be proud of. Having a spouse, child, or good friend taken care of I think really reinforces a connection that’s more than transactional.

Basically a Diamond can gift:

  • An upgrade, if available
  • Lounge access or full breakfast if no lounge is available
  • High speed internet, rather than base-level internet that is free to all guests
  • Late check-out
  • Check-in amenity

Back when Chase used to let you transfer points to anyone’s account you wished, and since Hyatt is a Chase transfer partner, I would have expected this to be abused — non-Diamonds with Chase points transferring points to their Diamond friends in order to be treated as Diamonds on all their points stays. But Chase doesn’t permit this any longer.

That said, in practice members could do this already — just by a Diamond making a booking in their own name, with someone else listed as second guest on the reservation. That person checks in (the Diamond member is getting in later…) and gets treated as a Diamond. I haven’t heard of issues with this at Hyatt properties, and some folks do it in order to earn stay and promotion credit for the Diamond member, while providing elite benefits to the guest.

There are Starwood hotels where I’ve actually heard of the property refusing Platinum benefits until the Platinum member arrives on property. But that’s a fairly rare situation, and a common approach across hotel chains.

Nonetheless, making this benefit explicit is a nice gesture from the program and something I expect will be valued by many members — it makes the points of Diamond members, especially Diamonds who gift rooms to friends and family rather than choosing to travel more when they don’t have to, more valuable. It lets a Diamond show friends and family why they’re loyal to the chain.

This is available on award nights only, and not cash and points awards. The check-in amenity benefit for guests staying on a Diamond member’s redemption will not include the usual points option.

Somewhat ironically this happens at the same time that United is removing this feature from its own elites. United frequent flyers booking awards for others would have their status transfer to the passenger. This wasn’t intentional as much as a technical issue, that United has finally fixed. Hyatt wants to offer this as a loyalty benefit, while United chose to take it away to plug a hole.

It’s especially interesting considering the next benefit that Hyatt announced.

Two United Club Passes Per Year

Airlines and hotel programs having been increasing linking up:

  • Delta and Starwood offer Crossover Rewards — reciprocal status recognition (upgrades on Delta for Starwood Platinum members even) and points-earning for spending money with the other partner.

  • United and Marriott offer reciprocal elite status — with United Golds and higher becoming Marriott Golds (lounge access or breakfast) and Marriott Platinums becoming United Silver (free checked bag, priority boarding, free economy plus if available at checkin).

Proving these relationships don’t need to be exclusive, Starwood extended the model to include Emirates (“Your World Rewards”), although Emirates and Delta aren’t really competitors in a meaningful way.

Tie-ups can be looser, of course. prove that exclusive relationships with United don’t actually have to be exclusive).

While United sells club passes on a one-off basis for $50, they’re no doubt either offering these to Hyatt on the super cheap, offering them as a straight-up trade, or even paying Hyatt to send them out… Hyatt gets to give something to its Diamond members, and United gets to market itself to Hyatt’s most frequent valuable customers.

Make no mistake, though, the value of a United club pass is certainly not more than $14.

(I often see pairs of passes go for less on a per-pass basis, and non-buy it now auctions close for less)

United Explorer cardmembers get two annual passes. Sometimes those get lost in the mail, and members call Chase and get more sent out. That may be where the plethora available on eBay are coming from.

Positive Moves for Diamonds

Hyatt Gold Passport already offers my favorite upgrade benefit — confirmed at booking from any paid rate (including cash and points awards) four times per year, and my favorite breakfast benefit — full breakfast for up to 4 registered guest when there’s no club lounge available (not just continental breakfast).

They also match Starwood with the best late checkout benefit, guaranteed 4pm checkouts except at resort locations and for designated and pre-approved high demand dates.

That they continue to add benefits is a strong positive signal — although I don’t see these two new offerings as game changers.

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. Gary, as a diamond
    1. Could I book a room using MY points for my friends and give them free breakfast/lounge access
    2. then my friends book a room for me using their points and I enjoy my usual diamond benefits?

  2. I need to find some Diamond and Platinum friends… It’s sad to have points but no premium status.

  3. Hmm. So I can trade my 2 free nights (cc sign up bonus) to a Diamond for them to book my room. Seems like a nice work-around. 😉

  4. isn’t it nice that hotel programs seem to be upping their game while airline FF programs are going into the toilet?

    maybe you can address this contradiction in a future column.

    my thesis: competition. most locations you have a choice of comparable hotels at comparable prices, so loyalty is a critical factor. not so for airlines, many live in hubs, many are forced (or choose) to go with the lowest price, many times there is only one routing (nonstop) that makes sense. so no need for airlines to cultivate loyalty – at least as management sees it.

  5. I have always been frustrated when Hyatt hotels will not allow friends traveling with me to go to the lounge without an large copay. I assume I could do the paid room and put my friends in the award room so that all of us could go to the lounge?

  6. This further widens the gap between Diamond and Platinum at Hyatt. Really needs to be some attention paid to the Platinum tier, in my opinion.

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