Starwood and Hyatt Announce Their Fall Promotions

I previously wrote about Marriott’s and Priority Club’s fall promotions, and have been impatiently waiting to see what the other major chains had in store.

Starwood’s fall promotion is triple points on stays which include a Thursday or Sunday night (double points on all other stays). The promo runs September 6 through December 18, and registration will become available by the 6th of September.

The fact that there’s a long list of properties where you won’t be eligible to earn the bonus suggests that hotels aren’t looking to incentivize additional heads in beds, they’re pretty full with high rates and don’t feel like they need to spend broadly to fill up. Which also likely explains why Hyatt’s new promotion isn’t nearly as valuable as some were expecting or hoping (including me).

Hyatt has announced their fall promotion and it’s 5000 points every 3 nights (capped at 30,000 points after 18 nights) between September 15 and November 15. Registration will be available September 15 at

Now, I’m glad to see bonus points back of course. This hasn’t been a strong year for promotions and the current 9 Hyatt nights in two weeks are earning me no bonuses whatsoever (other than my 1000 point per stay Diamond amenity). But it’s not what I was hoping for, which of course was a return of some variant of Faster Free Nights, the seemingly annual offer of a free night every two stays with no restrictions (other than relatively short redemption window). It’s the gold standard of hotel promos, the most lucrative in the market every time that it’s offered, and it looks like we won’t see it in 2011. Which is sad, because I’ve heard over and over from the folks at Hyatt Gold Passport that it or something like it would be back. But it’s an expensive promo, and with hotels relatively filling up they likely don’t need to offer it.

Gold Passport is certainly much less rewarding than it was in 2010, with bonuses galore, and not just of the promo variety. They’ve gotten rid of the hotel-specific “G bonuses” (500 to 2000 points per stay at many properties). The stated reason was that the promos weren’t posting automatically and took too much time and effort to manually post, causing member frustration. Fair enough, but they promised a replacement program and we haven’t seen it, many months without bonuses. And frustrated members.

I do still think we’ll see aggressive promos out of Hyatt Gold Passport, and certainly if we see a bit of a hotel downturn, they’ve got the bag of tricks ready to pull out as-needed.

And like Lucky I rather think that any frustrations with Hyatt’s promos are more about how generous they’ve been in the past, rather than about Hyatt being in any way inferior to their competitors. I endorse the following from him in its entirey,

Also, in fairness to Hyatt, they’ve really improved their elite benefits over the past couple of years, and I still think they have among the best loyalty programs, even without lucrative promotions. They pioneered free internet for top tier elites, then added four confirmed suite upgrades per year, and now have guaranteed 4PM late check-out.

It’s still a truly class act loyalty program. So I’m not being an apologist, because trust me, I want to see Faster Free Nights return. And who knows, maybe it will, and they’ll run both promotions at once, which would be awesome.

So I’m still hoping we see some sort of a fun promotion, though I’m not expecting it.

On a related note, with Hyatt’s introduction of guaranteed late check out, I’ve been consistently asked at checkin whether or not I wanted the late checkout benefit. That’s a really great brand standard approach for full service Hyatts (at their lesser brands, elites have to ask for the benefit rather than being asked if they want it). If hotels are required to ask guests if they’d like the late checkout, then there’s little question that the benefit will be honored. In that way they may have even trumped Starwood, which to date has had the best late checkout benefit — almost always honored. At least at the Diamond level, where Hyatt offers 4pm checkout at non-resort locations, just like Starwood. Starwood still offers 4pm late checkout even for Golds whereas Hyatt’s first tier elite members get a lesser late checkout benefit. But by proactively offering it, that’s a huge step forward and kudos to the Gold Passport folks for rolling this out, considering that it was historically a real weak spot in the program. (The weekend of the Frequent Traveler Awards in New York, staying at the Andaz 5th Avenue, they wouldn’t even grant me 2pm… just try that now, Andaz folks!)

That said, the most generous hotel promo this year seems clearly to be (and remain) Starwood’s free resort nights. I think it’s a strong contender for a win at the Freddie Awards.

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. Hyatt has some truly spectacular hotels, and it seems to brand itself as more of a boutique style hotel company. However, the issue with the Gold Passport program is the limited number of Hyatt locations and often higher rates relative to the competition. With the example, of London, Hyatt has 2 hotels, Hilton has 18, and the other players like Marriott & SPG have lots of choices. In Europe, there are very limited Hyatt locations. Italy only has the Milan Hyatt and no other properties.

    With the FFN offer, Hyatt is able to compensate for the shortcomings of its program, and it can really attract business that gives travelers a compelling reason to stay at Hyatt.

    I would like to see Hyatt announce FFN later in the fall for a Nov-Jan offer, but I do not expect it to be offered. A surprise would be nice nonetheless. The problem Hyatt now has is that they have created expectations of a FFN offer, and they are not delivering. This is not a good method to engender loyalty. With underwhelming promos, limited locations, and higher rates, Hyatt elites may feel free to look at the competition.

  2. IMO Hyatt is shedding its price value relationship customer and quickly.
    It’s not just about marketing budget cuts at corporate which it is. I’m also still convinced we are seeing the Chase Visa effect despite past denials. There are many more points in circulation these days and we are certainly paying the price since just before roll-out and after inception in many obvious ways. The thought process that there are fewer promotions as hotels are fuller still only apply to select markets.
    The economy is in real trouble last I looked.

    Some folks I hear from are turning to Priceline/third party sites and other hotel brands/programs now that Hyatt has stripped itself of the majority of its past bonus and free night offers this past year.
    Others are or have jumped on past free resort nights with SPG this year and more recently double miles and points with Hilton or loads of point bonus opportunity at Priority Club or elsewhere. The Hyatt GP program has spoken loud and clear this year to be content with what the GP program based on elite tier benefits offerings only for the most part. In fact I can’t remember in the past 17 years a much lack luster time to be a GP member promotionally. In the least generous years with system wide Gold Passport promotions G bonuses were readily available in a wide selection of properties worldwide consistently. I agree with your statement the program itself is world class however obviously not everyone is a Diamond or Platinum member.

    I understand Gold Passports new approach however it was a blind sighted way to go about it based on setting such high expectations with both promotion generosity and high point value redemption in the past. The devaluation on award rooms and the decline in promotional offerings should have been done more gradually. Instead of from feast to famine as we have seen demonstrated.

    In New York City after decades of loyalty with mostly Hyatt with some rare exceptions I now stay mostly with InterContinental its half the price of Hyatt New York City hotels on points with way more comfortable beds
    IMO Gold Passport especially in New York City has grossly overpriced its hotel rooms on both revenue and award nights making other programs rightfully look like superior value propositions. Having said that more power to them if they can get it and sustain it. Hope it works for them. I have changed loyalties in a number of key cities after over 20 years of loyalty with Hyatt and still a fan of many Hyatt hotels and their excellent program for elite members.

    It will be interesting if anything promotionally comes of the final November through Jan 31 holiday season restoring some faith to many members…..
    I am quite surprised at Gold Passports lack of creativity this year inthe promotional arena the and weakness of offerings overall from one of the greatest management teams on board @ Gold Passport in many years. None the less I remain a committed GP elite member in the markets where they excel.I no longer stay at anything Hyatt as I did in years past

  3. I have to agree with Don. Hyatt has very good at-hotel-benefits for diamonds. Industry leading on that front. But on promotions, point accrual, return of value for dollar spent for future visits – yuck. This is the worst Hyatt has been in the past 20 years in terms of value, in that regard – totally a correct comment. I also agree its CC-related (and probably related to becoming a public company to some degree as well). We will be seeing another major “FFN” this fall from another non-Hyatt brand, this promo soon to be announced, so, Hyatt will have had its lunch eaten by Starwood and “brand X” in 2011.

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