The Other Shoe Drops On Hyatt Program Changes. It’s A Good Shoe This Time

I wish I knew where Gary gets all his good info from.  We knew there was another announcement coming from Hyatt (and likely a good one) after they announced their devaluation recently.  I wouldn’t call the good stuff a home run, but it’s a solid double.  Here’s a link to the changes, as well as the highlights below:

  • As an elite member, you’ll now have access to a lower paid “elite” rate, subject to availability.  The rate will be 20% off the Hyatt Daily Rate.  I’m guessing this will be similar to the AAA rate, though without the requirement to be a AAA member.  Gary suggests the rate will be lower than that.  But, I’ve seen plenty of Hyatt Daily Rates that are more than 20% higher than the AAA rate.
  • Hyatt is introducing cash and points awards.  For those not familiar, cash and points are just what they sound like, a bit of cash and a bit of points.  Before a recent devaluation, Starwood Preferred Guest had awesome cash and points awards.  Even now, they’re still a pretty good deal.

Gary has a nifty chart that goes through the various price levels at which you can redeem cash and points awards:

Hyatt Program

 

The prices are pretty similar to what SPG offers, with the prices at the very top of redemptions being higher than the middle of chart where deals are better.  I don’t love the pricing but it’s a good way to stretch out your points.  It’s also a bit of a bridge to retain/obtain Hyatt status a bit more cheaply if you have to mattress run.  “Points + Cash”, as Hyatt is calling it, stays will count towards qualification for platinum and diamond membership.  That’s certainly a plus, though maybe a marginal one.

You can only book these awards by calling a reservation center.  That’s a big downer for me.  I’m not hugely surprised for two reasons.  First, Hyatt has had it’s fair share of technology issues over the past few years, though they’ve done a lot to button those up.  Second, Jeff Zidell, who runs Hyatt Gold Passport, is a determined man who does believe in creating and building loyalty with his customers.  I’m sure Jeff would have been happier to have this integrated online from the beginning, but I’m guessing his impatience in wanting to deliver this benefit outweighed the decision to wait until the technology could be put into place.

Lastly, there’s a small bit of bad news in that points will now expire after 24 months.  Hyatt is billing this as good news but those that frequent communities like Milepoint know that Hyatt very rarely actually expired points.  I don’t view this as a big issue.  I remember hearing Jeff Robertson, who runs Delta’s SkyMiles program talk a few years ago about how they made the decision to do away with expiring miles because of how much it upset their customers. A reasonable position.  Maya Liebman, who ran the American Airlines AAdvantage program at the time, said something along the lines of, “If a customer can’t find any way to engage with us at all for 18 months, then it’s probably time to make a decision about the relationship.”

I agree, and have no issue if Hyatt nukes my points if I don’t have any activity for 2 years.

All in all, a good day.  A great day would have been the announcement that award stays would earn stay credit or that Hyatt was adding a third (higher) tier to the program with more benefits for those that committed more nights.  We’ll just have to wait and see if there are any more shoes.

 

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