RUMOUR: Big Changes Coming To Hyatt Gold Passport

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UPDATE: One Mile At A Time has more info which I’ve added below

Matthew Klint of the Pen and Passport Blog is reporting that Hyatt is about to revamp its Gold Passport loyalty program and the changes are going to be huge….and not necessarily for the better.

As things stand the Hyatt Gold Passport program is very lopsided in that all the worthwhile benefits are to be found in the top-tier of the program (Diamond status) while the middle tier (Platinum status) doesn’t really offer very much of interest at all – that’s probably why it’s given away with the Chase Hyatt credit card and why it’s currently achievable in 5 nights.

This looks like it’s all about to change.

park-hyatt-chennaiPark Hyatt Chennai

Hyatt’s New Loyalty Program

Matthew is reporting that Hyatt is renaming it’s loyalty program to “The World of Hyatt” (which sounds more like a very bad theme park than a loyalty program) and that the whole structure of the program will be changing.

None of the following bits of information have been confirmed but Matthew says that the full details will be revealed on 1 November and the changes will go into effect from 1 March 2017.

The Main Changes

  • The current 3-tier structure (Member, Platinum, Diamond) will see a 4th tier added and the tiers renamed to Member, Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist (has Hyatt been taken over by Disney?!)
  • The option to qualify on stays will be removed
  • The number of nights needed to qualify for the new tiers will be higher than right now
  • The option to qualify based on spend will be introduced

Here’s what the new tiers will look like:

Basic Member Level:

  • Earn 5 base points /dollar spent
  • No resort fees to pay on award nights
  • No other notable benefits

Discoverist Level:

  • Qualification Criteria:
    • 10 nights or
    • 25,000 base points = $5,000 spend
  • Earn 5 base points/dollar spent & get a 10% bonus
  • No resort fees to pay on award night
  • Free upgrade to a larger room and/or a higher floor if available at check-in
  • Free daily bottle of water

Explorist Level:

  • Qualification Criteria:
    • 30 nights or
    • 50,000 base points = $10,000 spend
  • Earn 5 base points/dollar spent & get a 20% bonus
  • No resort fees to pay on award night
  • Free upgrade to the “best room” (excluding club rooms and suites) at check-in
  • Free daily bottle of water
  • 4 awards granting entry to Club Lounges per year (on award or paid stays)
  • 2:00pm late check-out

Globalist:

  • Qualification Criteria:
    • 60 nights (55 nights if re-qualifying) or
    • 100,000 base points = $20,000 spend
  • Earn 5 base points/dollar spent & get a 30% bonus
  • No resort fees to pay on award night or on “eligible paid rates”
  • 4 yearly suite upgrades
  • 1 bonus suite upgrade for every 10 nights stayed above the 60 required to qualify for Globalist status (max 4 bonus upgrades) or 10,000 points per 10 nights.
  • Free upgrade to the “best room” (including standard suites) at check-in
  • Free daily bottle of water
  • Complimentary lounge access
  • Daily complimentary breakfast where Club Lounges are not available
  • Complimentary parking on award nights
  • Priority access to rooms when arriving early
  • 4:00pm late check-out

Park Hyatt SydneyPark Hyatt Sydney

Matching Tiers For Next Year

As of 1 March 2017:

  • Gold Passport Members who have requalified for Diamond status will receive Globalist status
  • 2016 Diamond members who failed to re-qualify for 2016 top-tier status will receive Explorist status
  • Gold Passport Members who have requalified for Platinum status will receive Discoverist status

According to One Mile At a Time:

Hyatt will go back through everyone’s 2016 activity, and if you would have qualified under the new criteria in 2016, they’ll upgrade your status (in other words, those who met the revenue requirement but not the nights requirement will get the upgraded status)

One Time Benefits

Hyatt is offering its guests a couple of benefits/promotions that will only be available for 2017.

Staring on 1 March 2017:

  • Earn a free night at a Category 1-4 property after staying at 5 different Hyatt brands
  • Earn a subsequent free night at a Category 1-4 property after staying at a further 5 different Hyatt brands

All newly minted Globalist members will be given a free night at any Hyatt property in the world on 1 March 2017.

Park Hyatt TokyoPark Hyatt Tokyo

What This Means

Thanks to Gary over at View From The Wing for tipping me off about this news in the first place

These are all the details that have been provided by Matthew Klint and, while there’s no reference as to where he’s got his information, Gary seems to think that the info is probably solid and that’s good enough for me.

First the good stuff:

Not paying resort fees on award nights regardless of what status you hold is a nice perk and will please those who regularly get fleeced at resorts like the Andaz Maui.

Free parking on award nights for top-tier elites is a good perk and could save guests quite a bit of money

The ability to earn extra suite upgrades is a nice touch

Now the bad stuff:

Now that we can no longer qualify on stays we actually need more nights to qualify for mid-tier status (Explorist) than we needed to qualify for the current top-tier status (Diamond).

60 nights will now be needed to earn Hyatt top-tier status (Globalist) and I can see that really cutting in to the number of top-tier elites that Hyatt has (I suspect that the point).

The spend requirements don’t really help most travelers – $5,000 to get on the first true rung of the loyalty ladder is a lot of money for very little in return.

Park Hyatt Abu DhabiPark Hyatt Abu Dhabi

Thoughts

I think Hyatt is making a mistake with these changes and I’m not saying that as someone who has a vested interest – this won’t really affect me as I’m concentrating on Marriott/Starwood going forward.

Hyatt has a comparatively small footprint compared to chains like Marriott/Starwood, IHG and Hilton (partly why I won’t be re-qualifying for Hyatt top-tier status for next year) and it’s hard for travelers to remain loyal.

Asking travelers to spend even more nights to mostly get the same benefits as they had before is a risky game to play when you have comparatively few hotels to offer them around the world.

I’ve loved my Hyatt Diamond status and I’ve enjoyed all my stays with Hyatt but, while I seriously considered making a run at top-tier status for next year (under the current qualification criteria), I won’t be attempting to earn top-tier status under these new rules.

I have absolutely no interest in trying to find 60 nights at Hyatt hotels around the world in order to hit “Globalist” level – it’s just too much of an effort and restricts my travels far too much.

park-hyatt-maldivesPark Hyatt Maldives

The biggest mistake I think Hyatt is making here is by apparently offering very little incentive for guests to stay the extra 20 nights to go from “Discoverist” to “Explorist” status.

20 nights doesn’t come cheaply and what do you get for that outlay? Possibly a slightly better room, 10% more points and entry to the club lounge on 4 stays. Why would anyone bother if they weren’t going to make the stays anyways.

Loyalty programs are supposed to incentivise spend and make travelers make irrational decisions in favor of the corporations that run the programs – where’s the incentive here?

Bottom Line

I’ll be interested to see what the full details of the new loyalty program are when Hyatt announces them on 1 November (assuming the source is correct) but I think there will be a lot of disappointed Hyatt loyalists out there.

Hyatt top-tier status is great to have and I would have understood it if Hyatt had upped the nights and  stays criteria to get rid of a few elites…..but the new qualification criteria seem like a step too far.

It looks like my future Hyatt stays will all be courtesy of Chase Ultimate Rewards as there’s nothing in the bottom three tiers (so far) that jumps out at me and suggests that it would be worth throwing some paid nights Hyatt’s way.

Earning Hyatt top-tier status is now going to be much too much of an effort for a lot of us and it will be interesting to see what effect, if any, this has on Hyatt’s financial performance.