For those who can earn top tier in the new ‘World of Hyatt’ program (60 nights or $20,000 in spend) the changes going into effect March 1 are probably an improvement such as an upgrade benefit based on availability that no longer excludes suites, the ability to earn more confirmed suite upgrades by staying more nights beyond the minimum required to qualify, and especially having a dedicated concierge to handle all things Hyatt-related.
While Hilton Honors makes changes focused largely on the broadest base of members, Hyatt is focusing on their very most frequent guests.
At the same time it can’t be emphasized enough that the changes to Hyatt’s loyalty program are going to mean big cost savings for hotels.
- No more check-in amenity. This was a choice of points of food and beverage. That also means no more penalty when check-in amenity points aren’t posted by the hotel.
- No more guaranteed turndown service where it isn’t part of the brand standard. Hotels won’t have to keep housekeeping as well-staffed into the evening to accommodate Diamond members.
- No more compensation when club lounges are closed. Diamonds used to get 2500 points in addition to breakfast at hotels with lounges that close them, usually on weekends.
- More restrictive breakfast. Instead of breakfast for (4) registered guests per room, the benefit is limited to two adults and two children with each hotel deciding what constitutes a child.
- There are fewer people to feed. With tougher status-earning criteria — no more status based on stays, no more stays and nights earned from spend on the co-brand credit card, more nights for top tier than before — there will be fewer members on a given night with lounge access and fewer members entitled to breakfast in hotel restaurants.
- Terms and conditions limit enforcement of upgrades which are to be “determined by the applicable hotel or resort in its sole discretion and may vary from stay-to-stay.”
I’d much rather have check-in amenity points, racking up a free night a year easily, than the free night which replaces those points because that free night:
- Cannot be upgraded with suite upgrades or points
- Expires 120 days after issuance, and must be redeemed for travel within those 120 days (not just reserved.
Hyatt will deny that this is about breakage (they say they want members to use the nights) or about cost control (less time to use the certs means they’re likely to be burned at less expensive hotels than if members had greater runway to plan to maximize the certificates. But there’s certainly a cost element here as well.
I’ve heard from hotels that they expect lower costs to service Hyatt’s top elite members going forward, and it’s easy to see why.
In the realm of pure speculation, we know that Hyatt was unable to acquire Kimpton or Starwood, so with fewer options left to grow by acquisition they could see the best move as selling. Lower operating costs could make them look more valuable to an acquirer.
On the other hand, if they do have an acquisition strategy in mind, World of Hyatt (with its tougher requalfiication criteria) seems better-positioned for a larger chain than they currently are. Making changes now, before an acquisition, could also make sense.