Turns Out Hyatt’s Elite Status Challenge is NOT Gone For Good…

On Monday it was being reported that the Hyatt Diamond challenge had ended.

Hyatt was exceptionally generous in that they were willing to give elite members of other hotel chains temporary top tier status, while offering an expedited way to keep that status. And they even gave these temporary Diamond full confirmed suite upgrades as though they had earned the status for a year.

This was exceptionally game-able. Plenty of folks signed up for a credit card that gave them Hilton Gold status and leveraged that into Hyatt Diamond — maybe transferred some points into Hyatt from Chase Ultimate Rewards, booked cash and points award stays, upgraded them to suites at booking and enjoyed free breakfasts during their stays.

Hyatt confirmed yesterday that the Diamond challenge offer was discontinued on October 31.

With the confirmation, we got the following (rather milquetoast) bit:

We very much appreciate all of our members who were able to take advantage of this promotion and have continued to stay with Hyatt throughout the year. We are currently evaluating the best path forward with these types of promotions. As always, we welcome your feedback.

I read two things into this.

  1. They appreciate the members who continued to stay with Hyatt (and maybe not as much those who didn’t).
  2. There would be some kind of status match or challenge again in the future.

They offered this for a reason. Their intention wasn’t to be generous. The idea was to make it easy for high value customers to move their business.

A hotel chain, like an airline, wants to overcome ‘status lock-in’… a customer may want to move their business but they’re treated so well by their existing chain because of their status that they really can’t switch.

By fronting the status for someone that has demonstrated they bring with them a lot of room nights, they make it easy to switch and capture those nights.

I asked about this and was told,

For the Diamond Challenge, we are evaluating it and determining what version 2.0 will look like.

That made it sound like we would see a ‘version 2’.

Pressing further, I was told:

We are looking at what the next iteration looks like and for whom. No timing to share.

These challenges existed for a reason. Presumably they were too generous, meaning it was too expensive to offer the challenge with suite upgrades to folks who had simply signed up for a competitor’s credit card. But they still want the business of their competitor elites.

Of course lots of projects get mired in analysis, we don’t know when something will come to fruition. But I wouldn’t count out the idea of a status match or challenge with Hyatt just yet.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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 imagine they will keep the challenge largely the same with a few modifications. I think 12 nights in 60 days makes sense, but I bet they won’t automatically confer Diamond from the start of the challenge, maybe after 5 nights completed, the stay 7 more to keep Diamond thru year end. That should zap most of the free loaders. Also: no more suite upgrades until you complete the challenge, and no Platinum status for failed challenges.

    I really hope Hyatt preserves the value in Diamond status, rather than watering it down in order to make it more financially palatable to offer it to a larger number of people. There is a business case for rewarding your frequent, high value guests and Hyatt Diamond does very well in that respect.

  2. I’m glad to see something will still be available. As someone who lost Diamond this year because work took me mostly to Marriotts (70+ nights), I’m hoping to re-qualify early next year before an international trip. Not having to complete all 25 stays prior to our March trip was something I was hoping to accomplish…. Hopefully they announce details rather soon.

  3. @Andy My travel patterns changed too (Marketing Consultant, have to go where the clients are!), so I find myself mattress running in these last two months of the year. Diamond status holds great value for me (upgrades, breakfasts, suite upgrades, points) that it’s worth it for me to book a few separate weekend nights at a nearby Hyatt Place on my $72 Elite Rate (net about $62 by buying Hyatt gift cards @ 10% discount w/ AmEx small biz card).

  4. What I would do.
    1) Require evidence on not just status with the competing chain, but a certain number of nights as well, maybe equal to what Hyatt requires of their own Diamonds.
    2) Diamond status from start of the challenge, but no DSUs until the challenge is completed. And then maybe pro-rate them based on the month the challenge is completed, so if you fulfill the challenge in Dec you get fewer than if you do it in April.

  5. FWIW, when I did the challenge about a year ago, they required evidence of at least a stay with my other status chain. I realize that’s not much, but it at least was a barrier to those with credit card status who hadn’t actually stayed with that chain.

    That or they exclude HHonors Gold from the match. It was there because it’s 50 nights like GP Diamond, but otherwise wasn’t really comparable. SPG Gold wasn’t eligible because it required fewer nights, despite being very comparable to HH Gold.

  6. Agree with Seth and Swag. The upgrade certs will be gone (at least the initial set) and the required credentials will be tougher, i.e. Maybe HH Diamond or Marriott Plat instead of Gold levels which are easily obtained.

    Also glad that this is not a once-in-a-lifetime event for those of us who do not have consistent travel schedules.

  7. The problem I had is that Hyatt will only credit the payer of the room for nights and thus elite status. As my company travel agent does the booking and paying, I receive no stay or night credits, and thus can not qualify for status. This is very different from the Hilton and Marriott plans.

    As the employee that requests which hotel I’d like, I think I should get stay and night credit (as we do in Marriott and Hilton).

  8. @gary wrote: “They offered this for a reason. Their intention wasn’t to be generous. The idea was to make it easy for high value customers to move their business.”

    Great objective but they instead wound up giving away the store. I suspect that the proportion of high-value customers that actually moved their business to Hyatt is minute compared to that which gamed the system and got Hyatt Diamond status with a lower-tier elite status in another program “earned” through a credit card. The objective made business sense; the implementation did not.

    Thus, in practice the Hyatt Diamond Challenge was more bone-headed than “generous”. When the blogosphere becomes an echo chamber with repeatedly calling a deal “lucrative”, you know that the deal’s sponsor or provider is being taken to the cleaners. That is exactly what happened with the Hyatt Diamond Challenge, except it did not have to happen. The Challenge could have succeeded in getting high-value customers to move their business if they had a) targeted only other programs’ VERY TOP elites ((HH Diamond, Marriott Plat, SPG Plat), b) required evidence of the top elite status and that was current, and c) required evidence of recent substantial stays or spend on stays at another program.

    Folks who met those requirements would have deserved the “generous” perks that came with the Hyatt Diamond Challenge. As implemented, however, the just-ended Hyatt Diamond Challenge was exactly as bloggers said it was: “lucrative” 😉

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