As you might imagine, I read quite a few travel blogs on a daily basis. I always start my day with world news. But, travel blogs are my guilty pleasure. When some folks reach for People, Cosmopolitan or other magazines you might find in the grocery store checkout lines, I’m checking out what my favorite blogs are saying. On busy days, I skip the blog reading in the morning and go right into tackling my e-mail inbox. When I’m at my busiest, my blog reader can have more than 1,000 articles I need to skim to catch up.
I like to keep some bloggers top of mind. It might be because of their writing style, or the likelihood they’re going to break news I want to see. I was on the elliptical machine this morning when I saw a Tweet come across my screen from Ben at One Mile at a Time. The title intrigued me, so I clicked through.
Thank You, Hyatt Gold Passport was a ride down memory lane of some of the Hyatt Gold Passport’s greatest hits. In the post, Ben talks about how he got started with Hyatt. The stories he tells about leveraging some of those early promotions are legendary. I’ll admit, I didn’t take much part in the Faster Free Nights craze. I certainly had my fair share of stays as a business traveler, but I wasn’t smart/energetic enough to stack up the free nights folks like Ben did. Ben’s post struck a chord with me, and I wanted to share my own story of how I got hooked on Hyatt.
The Switch To Hyatt
Dating back to 2002-ish I’d been a Starwood Preferred Guest loyalist. I was shooting for lifetime status with American Airlines and SPG offered a very generous transfer ratio to AA. I really enjoyed the hotels and booked with SPG any chance I got.
Back in 2009 one of the companies that I manage was bidding on a big piece of business with a Hyatt Regency property. I wanted to patronize the hotel during the bidding process when I was in town. Though I’d been a member of the Hyatt Gold Passport program for some time, I didn’t have any status with them. Through some helpful hints on FlyerTalk, I was able to get a Hyatt Diamond status match from my SPG status.
The first time I checked into that Hyatt, the front desk agent asked me, “Will you need your 4pm guaranteed late check-out?” I’m sorry, what? I wasn’t used to this sort of benefit delivery. While some SPG properties are great about delivering on the promised benefits, it can be a struggle at times.
I can recall a stay where I stood in the lobby of the Le Parker Meridien in NYC. We were on a family trip and we were running late because I’d spent the past 45 minutes trying to reason with the front desk about the guaranteed late check-out benefit. I finally called the SPG Platinum desk and asked them to call the hotel on my behalf. The first agent I spoke with didn’t even understand the benefit. The second agreed to call the hotel but didn’t make much progress. She finally got a supervisor involved and “an exception” was granted by the hotel to honor the stated benefits. And, our family was late for our appointment.
Now, I was standing at a front desk where they were proactively asking me if I needed a late check-out? Maybe this Hyatt thing had some potential…..
My Private Line
Back in the day, any Hyatt Diamond member could request a “Private Line Agent” through FlyerTalk. I believe it was mostly spurred by bad technology. Bonuses posted with a dizzying lack of consistency, and members were upset. I got a truly great Private Line Agent to start. She checked my account every week and made sure I got all my points. When I was hopping on an airplane, I could send a quick e-mail that said “HR DEN Mon-Wed”. By the time I landed, I had a reservation at the Hyatt Regency Denver for the following week.
That level of service has continued through my current Private Line Agent. Traveling with the kids? Milk and cookies when we check into a room. Need a last-minute stay at a sold out hotel? No problem, and they got the hotel to waive the Diamond Guarantee rate to save me some dough. Plus, plenty of suite upgrades.
I know my experience is not typical of everyone’s. Some will cry that I got these special benefits because I’m a blogger. I can’t prove it, but for the first few years I was part of the Hyatt program as a frequent guest, they really had no idea I was a blogger. Even when they did, I’m not a “titan” blogger with millions of readers.
The Great Properties And Sweet Suite Upgrades
Diamond members earn 4 confirmed suite upgrades a year. We haven’t always redeemed all 4 for over-the-top rooms, but we’ve had our fair share.
There was an awesome suite at Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. And, on our second trip back to Paris there was the presidential suite at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile. That room had some of the best views of a city I’ve ever had.
There was also a recent stay at Park Hyatt Vienna in one of the nicest rooms I’ve ever had. I still need to write that up. And, countless others our family is so thankful to have enjoyed.
Loyalty For The Sake Of Loyalty
Many folks in the miles and points game treat these relationships in a transactional nature. In many cases, the programs themselves do, so why not us? Heck, I’m down to making transactional decisions on my airline loyalty. To me, Hyatt has always been different. A good part of that is the management philosophy.
I remember being at a media event where Jeff Zidell, the Senior VP of Hyatt Gold Passport, was being interviewed. As a small blogger who felt lucky to be squeezed into the event I was hoping to ask a great question. I remember someone asking him about their somewhat recent credit card launch. They wanted to know what else Hyatt planned to do to monetize their points via the credit card relationship and other new avenues. After all, pretty much everyone was selling points. His answer is one that stuck with me. I won’t put it in quotes, as I don’t want to misspeak. But, his answer was that Hyatt saw the value of their loyalty program as a way to create greater loyalty with their customers. They didn’t look at is a profit center for the business.
I’m not a complete HyattHomerTM in that I know their goal is still to make money. But, I do believe Hyatt believes they can impact greater loyalty by treating their customers well.
For some, the only true measure of loyalty is how many points they receive on a given stay, or a key benefit they value highly. Those folks aren’t wrong. Not in the least. We all make personal decisions on what we value.
To those that might say I’m loyal to Hyatt just to be loyal, I’d disagree. They’ve earned my loyalty over the past 8 years by consistently delivering benefits. Further, their staff collectively go above and beyond more than those of the other chains I frequent.
Lastly, Hyatt has a ton of new properties in the limited service and extended stay markets (Hyatt Place and Hyatt House). Many of those hotels are decades younger than their competition, with newer amenities.
The new Globalist appears to be a good fit for my travel patterns. I don’t expect a rocky start to the new program tomorrow. Even if there is a rough start, Hyatt has earned my loyalty while they work through the kinks of the new program.
The post I Couldn’t Have Said It Better Myself was published first on Pizza in Motion