Hotel status is a funny thing. I never really thought much about it (or coveted it ) until I had it. Prior to that, I was “chain-agnostic”.
Now, I understand how valuable it can be. I value room upgrades most of all, as they can save a lot of points and allow our family of four to spread out when we travel. But, there’s also benefits life free breakfast that save a ton of money when we travel. For those reasons, I’ve become a disciple of both Starwood Preferred Guest and Hyatt Gold Passport.
It’s also interesting to note that hotels have been “revenue-based” with their loyalty programs for quite some time, but we generally don’t feel as much remorse with that equation as we do when Delta and United have made that plunge.
SPG was my first love. When they rolled out no blackout dates on award redemptions for standard rooms they set themselves apart from the rest of the industry. They were ahead in technology and aspirational properties as well. Since then, the competition has caught up and in some cases passed them. A few years ago, I added Hyatt to the mix when I was truly shocked at how well they delivered on promised benefits. Since then, I’ve become a huge fan, labeling myself the Hyatt HomerTM.
My goals when I started the year were to keep status with both chains, though not at the same levels as last year. I planned to keep my Diamond status with Hyatt Gold Passport, but I doubted I would get to 100 nights with SPG to keep my Ambassador. While I’ve been happy with the relationship with my Ambassador, I feel like the program has been rolled out inconsistently, with some properties not really understanding what the level was. In certain cases, I didn’t really get any better treatment than when I was a “plain old Platinum” member. And, I still struggled to use Suite Night Awards to achieve upgrades. I suspect were it not for my Ambassador, I wouldn’t have enjoyed rooms like the suite we had at St. Regis, Rome. But, I just don’t have enough stays at aspirational properties where my Ambassador might be able to make a difference.
To achieve Platinum status, I need at least 25 stays or 50 nights. If I want to keep my Ambassador, I’ll need 100 nights. At the halfway point, I’m in good shape with my SPG status. Here’s a snapshot as I stand at the end of June:
I’m still halfway to 50 nights, and I would like to qualify as a 50-night Platinum for the Suite Night Awards, (even though I’ve struggled to use them) since I know I’ll be close. As it stands right now, I have enough nights to get to around 70 by the end of the year. Does that mean I’ll stretch the extra 30 nights to keep my Ambassador? I’m not sure at this point. If I had to guess, I’d say no. Meanwhile, I’ve achieved the 500 nights I need for lifetime Platinum status with SPG but need another 2 years as Platinum to lock that up. I definitely see value in lifetime Platinum and I’ll be sure to finish that off.
My quest for Hyatt Diamond status looks even rosier than my positive SPG progress:
With 54 nights, I’ve finished off Diamond status for 2015. Yay! For some folks, that might mean pushing all their remaining nights to another chain to get other status. 2 reasons I’m not doing that:
- Hyatt treats me better right now. I clear more upgrades and they honor benefits happily. It’s rare when I don’t get greeted at check-in with, “Will you be needing your 4pm late check-out?”. That’s a rarity with other chains. And, in some of the cities I travel to frequently, the difference in the Hyatt and SPG offerings is considerable enough. But, why not suck it up and dump some of those extra nights to SPG to top off 100 nights?
- Lifetime status. Currently, you can only earn lifetime status with Hyatt based on spending. I’ve had a lot of stays over the past few years, including frequently where I had multiple rooms for my employees. I’m making good progress and hope to achieve this at some point in the future.
When you combine better service with the push to lifetime Diamond, it feels like most of my paid stays will end up at Hyatt in the second half of the year.
It’s worth noting that promotions may sway my business in the fall and winter. These are the current offerings from Hyatt and SPG aren’t enough to move the needle (though I would like to have taken advantage of the Sheraton free nights offer if my travel patterns fit).
I was given Hilton Diamond status as a gift because of my American Airlines Executive Platinum status but haven’t used it yet. And, Gold status from Marriott because of my United status.
What about you? How is your progress towards elite status this year?