Hotel chains don’t usually own the hotels in their portfolio. They have a brand, and customer lists. They market to participating loyalty program members. But the only thing of value they really have to offer is their reputation, and that’s what they earn fees off of. So it’s important to preserve their reputation.
For that they have rules, because individual owners would otherwise milk the brand and its customer list (free ride off of the brand) while not delivering to brand standard (to save on costs). After all, most brand-loyal guests may just be one-off guests choosing the hotel with no knowledge other than the brand that it is a part of.
A chain’s most valuable customers are its elite members, who deliver an outsized portion of room nights to hotels. To entice them, they’re promised benefits like upgrades and free breakfast.
Knowing that hotels are going to try to cheat, Hyatt spells out in its terms and conditions what the breakfast benefit is for Globalist members when no club lounge breakfast is offered:
- full breakfast includes entrée or standard buffet, juice, and coffee or tea
- includes tax, gratuity and service charges
When staying at a participating hotel or resort that does not have a Club lounge (or if Club lounge is closed), Globalists will receive daily complimentary full breakfast (which includes one entrée or standard breakfast buffet, juice, and coffee, as well as tax, gratuity and service charges) for each registered guest in the room, up to a maximum of two (2) adults and two (2) children.
Hotels, though, regularly skimp on this benefit or pocket a couple extra dollars from guests, despite the clearly spelled out rules.
Here’s the breakfast voucher from the Hyatt Regency Bloomington that’s given to Globalists. The voucher expressly states that gratuity is not included at this hotel, and that a member has to choose between juice and coffee (cannot have both).
There are many hotels like this. The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center doesn’t cover gratuity for Globalists at breakfast. That’s been the case for some time. I asked Hyatt a month ago about any program in place to monitor hotel compliance with elite benefit terms and conditions and they did not respond.
I often flag non-compliant hotels and more often than not properties wind up having to get into compliance. When called out, the terms must be enforced. But in recent times properties increasingly seem to be left to their own devices to comply, or not. This is an even bigger issue with Marriott. There’s a trend towards milking the brand for current revenue from hotels, at the expense of chain reputations (long-term value of the brand). That’s an odd choice to make, especially as there’s increased competition for room nights, including from home sharing – and because the discounted present value of this strategy is likely quite low.