Hyatt has had one heck of an interesting year. It was a bit over a year ago that we learned Hyatt would make major changes to their loyalty program. Those changes went into effect earlier this year.
Hyatt is announcing two changes today that will should be seen as a positive change by all elite members:
- Effective January 1, 2018 all free nights will count towards elite status.
- The milestone free night awards that are part of the new program will now expire 180 days after they’re earned, instead of 120 days.
For a bit more specificity on the free night award expiration, here’s some language Hyatt sent me to help decipher the change:
And to give you even more time to enjoy your well-earned rewards, expiration on free night awards in a Category 1-4 earned when you stay 30 qualifying nights or earn 50,000 Base Points in a calendar year, or free night awards in a Category 1-7 earned when you stay 60 qualifying nights or earn 100,00 Base Points in a calendar year, have been extended from 120 days to 180 days.
Let’s Break This Down
Folks that know me as a HyattHomerTM will likely expect me to doing backflips over these changes. They’re positive changes, no doubt. But, they’re also essentially table stakes at this point.
Jeff Zidell (who used to run Hyatt Gold Passport) and I discussed this a few year ago. His comment at the time was that they wanted to do this, but technology prohibited them from doing so. SPG and Hilton already offer this benefit. Heck, even stingy Marriott offers this.
Folks like to point out that Hyatt has a smaller footprint, that it’s harder to be loyal to them. That’s true to a point. They’re in a lot more markets than they used to be. A 60-night hurdle for top-tier status (55 nights for renewal) is difficult, especially with no “SPG-like” shortcut using stays. I’m really glad to see this change. It’s overdue.
How About Those Free Night Awards?
This was World of Hyatt’s answer to the points that used to be awarded as a check-in amenity. When they were introduced, they came with a 120 day expiration. That meant you needed to stay somewhere within 4 months, not just make the reservation. For folks with school-aged kids (raises my hand) that’s harder than you think.
Sure, I can find someplace to burn a free night if need be. But, I want to redeem them at a truly great property. With pre-scheduled work travel, that was turning out to be a chore. Hyatt had an informal policy for a bit where they’d award you 10,000 points if your free night expired. The extension to 180 days is a formal, reasonable policy. I’ve had good luck getting these free night awards folded into reservation where I’m using points for the other nights. Properties haven’t hassled me with room switches or keys that stop working part way through. The current system is working. But, 120 days was too short.
The Final Two Pennies
These are two necessary changes that should be valuable to the majority of elite members. Many members hoped/expected that Hyatt would make adjustments here. If the average member takes one vacation on points a year, I’m guessing that’s 5-7 nights on an award? That’s somewhere between 10 and 15% of the nights needed to earn mid-tier or top-tier hotel status.
I had a chance to talk to Amy Weinberg, the new head of loyalty at World of Hyatt about the changes. The conversation was a very thoughtful one on her part. It reminded me of the conversation I had with Mark Vondrasek, who was responsible for bringing her on board. I’m cautiously optimistic that the elevation of Mark’s position to “C-level” means that Amy will have extra firepower when it comes to advocating on behalf of World of Hyatt elite members. And, she seems like she’ll be a good advocate.
It’s a good day for World of Hyatt elite members. Here’s hoping to more positive changes in 2018!
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