HomeHotel LoyaltyWorld of HyattFour ways Hyatt should have gone further with its World of Hyatt...

Four ways Hyatt should have gone further with its World of Hyatt changes

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Some aspects of the World of Hyatt program (Milestone Rewards and the Guest of Honor benefit) have been refreshed for 2024 and, on the whole, the changes that Hyatt has made are positive. The fact is, however, that as far as some benefits are concerned, the changes didn’t really go far enough.

Ok. Before I continue, let’s get one thing clear: I’m delighted that Hyatt hasn’t (yet) gone down the well-trodden path that ends at a sign reading “your hotel loyalty program has been decimated”. And I was relieved when the latest World of Hyatt changes were first announced and we saw that there weren’t any major devaluations planned and that no major benefits were being enhanced away.

Hyatt deserves credit for all that and I tip my hat to those at Hyatt HQ who have so far resisted the temptation to Bonvoy the World of Hyatt program.

Having said that, I don’t think that we should overlook the fact that certain World of Hyatt benefits are long overdue a small rethink and we shouldn’t let any positive feelings that we have about the World of Hyatt (I have a lot of them) prevent us from discussing this.

Three changes Hyatt should have made

I’m very aware that loyalty programs are there to make money for the corporations that run them so I’m not someone who believes (or expects) the World of Hyatt to hand out increasingly amazing benefits or for it to offer benefits that are clearly too expensive to offer.

I do, however, expect a good loyalty program to make sure that certain important benefits aren’t allowed to depreciate in value over time and that’s why I think that there are three other changes that Hyatt should have announced alongside the changes to the Milestone Rewards and the Guest of Honor benefit.

All three relate to Hyatt’s Free Night Certificates

Change 1 – The ‘1st tier’ Hyatt Free Night Certificates need a refresh

There are four ways of earning what I refer to as the ‘1st tier’ World of Hyatt Free Night Certificate:

  • World of Hyatt members can earn one when they credit 30 elite night credits to their account (through the Milestone Rewards)
  • Holders of the World of Hyatt credit card are given a Free Night Certificate on their card anniversary.
  • Holders of the World of Hyatt credit card can earn a Free Night Certificate by putting $15,000 of eligible spending (net) on their card.
  • World of Hyatt members can earn one of these certificates through Hyatt’s ‘Brand Explorer’ benefit.

This type of Free Night Certificate is valid for stays at properties in Categories 1-4 of the World of Hyatt program and while that was perfectly fine a few years ago, it’s not so fine anymore.

These Category 1-4 Free Night Certificates have been around for quite some time and when they were first introduced, Hyatt’s loyalty program didn’t have 8+ categories and a Category 1-4 certificate could be used for stays at a wide variety of full-service properties.

Since the introduction of these certificates, however, Hyatt has moved more and more properties into Category 5 and above and we’ve now reached the point where in some areas, there aren’t any properties at which these certificates can be used.

Also, with Hyatt increasing its focus on limited-service brands (the properties that are most likely to occupy a spot in one of the first four categories of the World of Hyatt program), it’s becoming harder and harder to find a full service property at which a Category 1- 4 certificate can be used.

What this means is that even if you can find a property (in your destination of choice) at which one of these certificates can be used, the chances are that it’s not going to offer the full set of ‘standard’ hotel amenities.

That makes these certificates a lot less useful than they have been in the past and Hyatt should have upgraded these certificates to cover properties in Category 5.

Change 2 – The ‘2nd tier’ Hyatt Free Night Certificates need a refresh

Where Hyatt’s 1st tier Free Night Certificates only cover properties in categories 1 through 4, Hyatt’s 2nd tier Free Night Certificate is valid at properties in categories 1-7 and these should also be refreshed.

There are three ways of earning a Category 1-7 Free Night Certificate:

  • World of Hyatt members who earn/collect 60 elite night credits are issued one of these certificates.
  • World of Hyatt members who earn/collect 100 elite night credits are issued one of these certificates.
  • World of Hyatt Lifetime Globalist members are issued one of these certificates every year.

These certificates were in circulation when the World of Hyatt only had 7 categories so at one time, these certificates could book you a room at any Hyatt property in the world.

Not anymore.

In 2018, Hyatt introduced a new top-tier category (Category 8) when it started to add SLH properties to the World of Hyatt program and at the time, we were told that Category 8 was to be reserved for the top-level SLH properties only. Properties managed by Hyatt would remain in Categories 1-7.

That promise lasted no more than a year and in 2019, Hyatt’s own properties began to appear in Category 8. Most years since then, more top-level Hyatt properties have been moved to Category 8 and outside the range of the Free Night Certificate that, let me remind you, requires a member to collect no fewer than 60 elite night credits.

At this point, it would be easy to suggest that Hyatt should upgrade this certificate to allow it to cover all properties in Categories 1-8, but I’d be happy with something that would be more of a compromise.

I think that Hyatt should upgrade this certificate to include all Category 1-8 properties covered by its own brands.

SLH properties could be excluded and, obviously, all the all-inclusive resorts covered by Categories A-F could be excluded as well, so I don’t think that this is a totally outrageous suggestion.

Change 3 – The validity of some Free Night Certificates needs to be extended

All free night certificates issued by Marriott, Hilton and IHG expire after 1 year, but that’s not the case with a lot of Hyatt Free Night Certificates.

While the Free Night Certificates earned through the World of Hyatt credit card and through the Brand Explorer program expire 12 months after they are issued, any Free Night Certificates earned through the Milestone Rewards as well as the Free Night Certificate handed out to Lifetime Globalists expire after just 180 days.

This even applies to the ‘Ultimate’ Free Night certificate that Hyatt now issues when a World of Hyatt member credits a staggering 150 elite nights to their account. This seems a little ridiculous.

Hyatt should have rethought the length of time that it gives World of Hyatt members to use the Free Night Certificates that they earn and should have announced that all certificates will be valid for a full year from the date of issue.

A change Hyatt should have handled better

Until this year and since they were introduced almost 5 years ago, Hyatt’s Milestone Rewards have included one very pointless benefit for a subset of World of Hyatt members.

Until the recent refresh, Milestone Rewards have automatically bestowed 2 Club Lounge Access awards on World of Hyatt members who credit 20 and 30 elite nights to their accounts, but as Hyatt Globalists (Hyatt’s top-tier elites) get access to Club Lounges anyway, they, effectively, didn’t receive any kind of reward when they hit the 20 night Milestone and only received one (instead of two) rewards when they hit the 30 night milestone.

I still have 4 Club Access award that I earned in 2022 and 4 Club Access Awards that I earned in 2023 sitting my account.

a screenshot of a computer

The good news is that (a) from this year onwards, anyone earning these awards can gift them to another World of Hyatt member (I may offer mine to the TFM readership at some point) and (b) instead of Club Access awards, the Milestone Rewards now allow World of Hyatt members to choose a new benefit called ‘2K Next Stay’.

The bad news, from my point of view, is that the 2K Next Stay benefit is too restrictive.

The new benefit allows a World of Hyatt member to earn 2,000 bonus points when they complete an eligible stay after the benefit has been triggered … and that sounds pretty good.

Unfortunately, and this is where things go rapidly downhill, an eligible stay is defined as a stay at a Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Caption by Hyatt, or UrCove hotel that’s made within 180 days of the benefit being issued.


For members who don’t have top-tier status, this benefit’s limitations probably won’t matter too much as they can still choose 2 Club Access Awards at 20 elite nights and another 2 Club Access Awards at 30 elite nights, and if they’re careful to make sure that they book themselves into properties that actually have Club Lounges, they should get good value out of these awards.

That’s not really the case for Globalists though.

Most Globalists are probably not particularly interested in collecting awards that are only really of any use to whomever they can give them away to, and as the only other alternative is to choose a $25 FIND credit (which doesn’t feel like a “reward” at all), they’re probably going to be stuck with the 2K Next Stay benefit when they hit the 20/30 night Milestones.

That’s not really a reward, is it? That’s more like a promise of a reward as long as the Globalist member goes on to give Hyatt more money/points by booking a limited-service stay.

Yes, this is still better than the position that Globalists were in before the Milestone Rewards changes were introduced, but Hyatt should have taken this opportunity to include a special provision for its top-tier elites.

Either the 2K Next Stay Award should have been made valid at all Hyatt brands when used by a Globalist member or Hyatt should have provided another alternative for Globalists to choose (e.g. 1,000 bonus points).

Is either option too much to ask?

Bottom line

Overall, I think the World of Hyatt is a generous program and I’m grateful for that. I’m also grateful that, for the time being, Hyatt seems to realize that in its battle with the larger hotel chains, the World of Hyatt is one of its best weapons and that it should be treated with care.

I do, however, think that a few aspects of the program are due an update and that more care could have been taken to ensure that top-tier elites have a genuine choice of rewards when hitting the 20 and 30 elite night Milestones.

I highly doubt that anyone at Hyatt is reading this, but just in case they are … is there any chance you guys could do something about any of these? 🙂

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  1. Ziggy, you are very intelligent. For a few years we wondered about this program. The last program was worse which caused us to stay away from Hyatt.

    Your points are very valid for 1-4 and even 1-7. Also the lounge access, I wondered what that was about, when Globalists already have access.

    While Hyatt did a pretty good job, it is columns like yours and Globalist feedback like ours that helps them make corrections.

    When we had our company, we always wanted our clients feedback, suggestions, ideas, to help us know whats going on out there in their minds, and not just ours. Clearly it made us a better company, and our clients were very happy with our company.

    Thats all it takes. We hope Hyatt is listening.

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