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Hyatt just announced several modest program changes to award members after fewer nights starting next year, and some tweaks to qualifying for elite status including requiring 5 extra nights to re-qualify for top tier status in 2020.
Here’s what’s changing and what they’ll mean to you.
Looking Out Over the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
Hyatt Will Award Benefits Every 10 Nights
Starting in 2019 Hyatt is adding a new benefit at 40 nights and awarding confirmed upgrade benefits earlier in order to offer something to members every 10 nights (up to 100 nights). They’re calling this Milestone Rewards.
In order to accomplish this they are splitting the awarding of confirmed club lounge access from Explorist status, so that it’s based on nights rather than status.
Here’s the new benefits chart which shows 2 club lounge upgrades awarded after 20 nights, a choice benefit at 40 nights, and 2 confirmed suite upgrades at 50 nights:
|10||25k base points or 3 meetings||Discoverist|
|20||35k base points||2 club lounge access awards|
|30||50k base points or 10 meetings||Explorist, 2 club access awards, cat 1-4 free night|
|40||65k base points||5k points or $100 Hyatt gift card or 10k points off FIND experience|
|50||80k base points||2 confirmed suite upgrade awards|
|60||100k base points or 20 meetings||Globalist, 2 suite upgrade awards, cat 1-7 free night, concierge|
|70||N/A||10,000 points or suite upgrade award|
|80||N/A||10,000 points or suite upgrade award|
|90||N/A||10,000 points or suite upgrade award|
|100||N/A||10,000 points or suite upgrade award|
There’s nothing being taken away here. Members get more benefits, earlier. I always loved the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie where each thing you get makes you want something else. What’s brilliant here is that the increment to each new benefit is modest that members can stretch their stays, giving Hyatt just a bit more wallet share, to get to the next level and be rewarded.
I like awarding club lounge access awards and confirmed suite upgrades earlier because this year the program fixed how awards expire, instead of expiring 12 months from when they are earned they expire February 28 of the following year regardless of when they’re earned. Getting them earlier means they’re valid longer.
Interestingly since club lounge access awards will be rewarded after 20 and 30 nights stayed, Globalists will earn them too but club lounge access is a benefit of Globalist status. That means, for a Globalist member that requalifies, these certificates will not have any usefuless and will simply expire (though of course a Globalist who does not requalify will value them).
Changes to Elite Status Qualification
Hyatt requires 60 nights to earn top tier Globalist status, but only 55 nights to re-qualify for that status.
Earning Hyatt qualifying nights has gotten easier since they changed the program to count reward nights towards status and launched a new World Of Hyatt Credit Card which both comes with 5 elite nights each year and lets you earn an additional 2 elite nights for each $5000 spent on the card. Spending $15,000 on the card is a no-brainer, too, since it gives you a category 1-4 free night in addition to points earned for your spend.
With status nights easier to earn, they are going to require 60 nights for Globalist status both for initial qualification and for renewal. This doesn’t start until 2020, so there’s plenty of notice as well.
Andaz 5th Avenue
Since you can even transfer points into Hyatt from Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, redeem them for reward nights, and have those nights count towards status as a result I don’t see this as a burden and fully expected some sort of change here.
In addition the new Milestone Rewards decouple earning club lounge access certificates from Explorist status, they’re providing a bridge for members who downgrade from Globalist to Explorist on March 1 — these members wouldn’t have earned any club lounge access certificates this past year. So they will still receive four club lounge access awards at time of downgrade.
Finally legacy Hyatt cardholders, folks with the old card that haven’t upgraded to the new World Of Hyatt Credit Card, will still earn 4 club lounge access awards and Explorist status after spending $50,000 on purchases in 2019. In future years spending $50,000 on that (no longer available) card will no longer earn club lounge access awards.
There’s lots of notice to changes to elite status qualification. I like that. – but stands in contrast to the lack of notice changing how cash and points awards work. Cash and and points is now half the points of a standard redemption plus half the published room rate (ignoring the best discount rates) instead of a fixed cash component.
I had the chance to talk to Amy Weinberg, Hyatt’s senior vice president for the World of Hyatt program, about these changes so I put the question to her: clearly notice matters to the program, why was this different with cash and points awards?
She explained that they “try to give as much notice as we can” of changes to the program but “did not want to wait to bring new [suites and premium suite] opportunities” to cash and points awards. Hyatt introduced the ability to use points for premium suites and made that change to cash and points awards too at the same time. I don’t see why they couldn’t retain fixed cash pricing on these awards for a period of time while introducing suite options, of course.
5 New Brands Will Participate in 2019
Hyatt has acquired Two Roads Hospitality and with it 5 new hotel brands: Destination Hotels; Joie de Vivre; Alila; Thompson Hotels; and tommie.
I’m especially excited about Alila properties in Indonesia and India, though this is a big boost to the Hyatt portfolio overall.
Alila Uluwutu, Bali
Amy Weinberg tells me that these brands will be incorporated into the World of Hyatt program during 2019.
In addition to having more hotels at which to earn and redeem points, more hotel brands creates an opportunity to more easily earn category 1-4 free nights. That’s because Hyatt awards a category 1-4 night for every 5 brands a member stays with. It’s been hard for me to earn a second free night to date with 13 brands since I don’t usually stay at all-inclusives (Ziva, Zilara) and haven’t stayed at a Residence Club or Miraval (of which, so far, there is one). More brands will make this much easier.
Makes the New Hyatt Visa Even More Attractive
The card comes with a free night each anniversary year for a category 1-4 Hyatt property and an additional free night each year that you spend $15,000 on the card, valid at a category 1-4 property. That makes putting $15,000 annual spend on the card attractive.
Just having the card earns 5 elite nights each year — the exact increase in nights required to requalify for Globalist status.
And it earns 2 more qualifying nights for every $5000 spend — and now there is a new Hyatt benefit every 10 qualifying nights. That makes spend on the card, which helps you reach those levels, even more rewarding. The 40 night benefit is also new.
Transfer points into Hyatt from Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card, redeem them for reward nights, and those count towards status as do the free nights earned with the World Of Hyatt Credit Card.
What’s Still Missing
Hyatt’s second elite tier isn’t as rewarding as Hilton’s Gold status (20 stays, 40 nights, but a giveaway level. and offers breakfast every stay. A member staying fewer than 50 nights gets club lounge access on only 4 stays. And a member who stays beyond 30 nights with Hyatt gets only 2 stays with club lounge access until they reach 50 nights.
Andaz Papagayo Costa Rica
Nonetheless I continue to believe that Hyatt offers the most rewarding hotel loyalty program for members who can make their footprint work. They’re growing that footprint to be sure through acquisitions — the 5 Two Roads Hospitality brands — and alliances, adding about 10% of the Small Luxury Hotels portfolio and hopefully more in the future. However they don’t have hotels everywhere the way that Marriott, IHG, and Hilton largely do.