Hyatt executives talk passionately about their purpose to care for people so they can be their best. And they’re thinking about “World of Hyatt” as being more than points but the branding of their overall effort to accomplish that and as an expression of their values.
That can be pretty hokey, and it’s ripe for a few tomatoes from people who were earning top tier Diamond status with 25 stays and who find themselves no longer considered nearly as important customer under Hyatt’s new scheme. Hyatt they seem to passionately believe it.
They’re introducing a new campaign — For a World of Understanding — during the Oscars as part of this launch.
They’re also working with Learning AFAR/No Barriers USA to sponsor Chicago Public School students (Hyatt is based in Chicago) “for an immersive educational program that culminates in a trip to Costa Rica.” They call this “Putting Empathy Into Action” although I call it “choosing a corporate charity” which is something that Hyatt and many companies have always done.
And of course changes to the loyalty program go into effect March 1.
View from the Park Hyatt Sydney
What’s Not Changing
There’s no change to how you earn points, and really no change to what those points are worth. You still earn them with hotel stays, at similar levels as before, as well as from credit card spend or points transfers. And Hyatt still have the same 7 redemption categories as before.
There’s no improvement or devaluation to the basic earn and burn proposition for free nights or other redemption options.
How You Qualify for Elite Status is Changing
Hyatt is introducing 3 elite tiers in place of the current 2 (and giving them rather silly names):
- Discoverist: 10 nights, 25k base points ($5000 spend), or 3 meetings
- Explorist: 30 nights, 50k base points ($10,000 spend), or 10 meetings
- Globalist: 60 nights, 100k base points ($20,000 spend), or 20 meetings
Folks who earn Globalist status will only need 55 nights in subsequent years to requalify. Everyone will need 60 nights or 100,000 base points in 2017 however.
The co-brand credit card will still come with the first level of status. $50,000 spend on the card will earn Explorist status. There’s no longer an option to earn credit towards top tier elite status with credit card spend.
Note that current Platinums may have a back door to give themselves Explorist status that will go away by the end of the month.
Lots More Free Nights
While the revamped Hyatt program will drop the check-in amenity for top tier elites (points or food and beverage offering), there are plenty of free nights on top of points earned.
- Everyone that gets transitioned to Globalist in March (even someone with just 25 stays this year) will receive a free night valid at any Hyatt property with no category restriction.
- A free category 1-4 night upon reaching 30 nights
- A free night at any Hyatt property with no category restriction upon reaching 60 nights.
These expire 120 days after they’re earned (120 days to use the nights, not just to book). I believe it’s to reduce the cost of providing the benefit (breakage, or members using them suboptimally at cheaper hotels) while Hyatt’s Jeff Zidell says it’s to connect the benefit to celebration of the accomplishment.
Hyatt will give a free night (category 1 through 4, valid for a year) after trying 5 different brands.
They’ll give a second free night when you hit your 10th brand. There’s no time limit for reaching these milestones. As long as the benefit remains you’ll receive a free night even if it takes you several /years to hit the goal. Historical stays don’t count, though, they’ll track your activity March 1 onward.
Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur Lobby
New Benefits — and a Few Losses — for Elites
Top tier elites will get space available upgrades including to standard suites at check-in in addition to the continuation of 4 upgrades a year confirmed at time of booking. Staying 70, 80, 90, and 100 nights a year comes with the option of another confirmed suite upgrade or 10,000 points.
Confirmed suite upgrades will become valid on reward nights (but not earned free stays such as the credit card annual free night or free night for hitting 30 or 60 nights in a year).
Confirmed suite upgrades will be awarded once earned, and will expire after (must be used for travel within) 12 months.
Discoverists receive upgrades to best available room within type booked, which may mean a better view or higher floor. Explorists receive the best available room excluding club floor and suites, though will earn 4 club access awards (valid up to 7 nights each) per year.
The best new benefit for top elites is probably My Hyatt Concierge, similar to Starwood’s Ambassador which SPG awards after 100 nights — a dedicated person to take care of all things Hyatt and stay-related.
Globalists do get a slightly-tightened breakfast benefit (2 adults and 2 children rather than 4 registered guests), no more check-in amenity, no more guaranteed turn down service, and no more 2500 points for a closed club lounge. Globalists now have a real answer to the question, “Turn down for what?”
Globalists also don’t pay resort fees (no one should, they’re a black eye on the entire hotel industry) and receive free hotel parking on award stays — but not on cash and points or paid stays.
All elites will receive a bottle of water daily in all hotels, though properties may fulfill that in different ways — it may be available for pickup, for instance, rather than offered in-room.
Finally the change in the new program that bothers me most: elite benefits will no longer be honored on ‘ineligible rates’ which generally speaking are online travel agency bookings.
Pool at the Park Hyatt Chennai
How it Stacks Up
Hyatt will earn at least 60 qualifying nights for me. I like their hotels and the overall experience and believe that their top elite tier remains the most rewarding in the industry.
For most readers a new charity, and new commercials, doesn’t sell the brand. It comes down to how well Hyatt “cares for people so they can be their best” and that really takes two forms — the people on property and the loyalty program.
Jeff Zidell, Hyatt’s senior vice president of loyalty, says “With World of Hyatt, we don’t just want to welcome you to our world, we want to understand yours,” but I don’t think they’re there yet.
- It’s harder to use points now if you also want status. With tougher elite qualification requirements, and award nights which don’t count towards status (they really do stand alone here now on this), redeeming an award for yourself is super costly.
- Those free nights you get instead of check-in amenity points have to be used for travel within 120 days. That’s great for breakage, not great for Hyatt understanding your needs and your calendar.
Top tier status becomes harder to earn, many people won’t hit 60 nights who might have made the top elite tier before. For those folks there’s a harder choice to make. For customers at the mid-tier, Hyatt’s elite offering isn’t competitive with Marriott or Hilton. World of Hyatt isn’t competitive below the Globalist status level.
Hilton has made a play for the broadest base of members, making every point useful. Hyatt has focused in on its most frequent guests. Those are two very different strategies.