If you’ve followed along my little corner of the internet, you know I’m a pretty big fan of Hyatt. I generally find them to fit my needs better than any other hotel chain. In many ways, my relationship with Hyatt has been very rewarding. Consistently, they go above and beyond to make my stays more enjoyable. Some have criticized me for being too positive about Hyatt in general. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, but I always welcome criticism.
I thought about the proper way to frame this post. We’re midyear 2018 and I suspect there are plenty of folks deciding whether they should push towards 60 nights with Hyatt to earn Globalist status. I have opinions (shocker) that I figured were worth sharing now, while folks were still making their decisions.
First, How Did We Get Here?
As we near the 2-year mark from when Hyatt first announced their new program, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground. Gold Passport would become World of Hyatt. We’d see requirements change for elite status, along with an improvement in benefits at the highest level.
They changed lifetime status, making it much better. They also announced that award nights would count towards elite status requirements. And, that free nights awarded would have extended expiration dates. Hyatt even went so far as to retroactively credit those award nights and bump up people’s status level. I thought that was a pretty classy move.
If we look back at that original announcement of a new program, there were some interesting benefits. One of them was the addition of a My Hyatt Concierge for anyone staying 60 nights or more in a calendar year. Back in the days of Hyatt Gold Passport I had an Ambassador, someone who was assigned to me to assist with reservations and special requests. The name changed here and there, also called a Private Line Agent and a Personal Line Agent at one point, IIRC. It wasn’t a formal program, more of an invite-only sort of thing. Now, Hyatt was looking to roll out a similar benefit in a big way.
Intriguing, But Can It Be Delivered On At Scale?
It’s possible that my expectations for this benefit were set too high based on previous experience. And yet, at the time this was announced I did have concerns it could be implemented at scale. Having a handful of great agents helping valued customers is one thing. Stretching that to a much bigger group is a much more daunting task. SPG has a similar program and has struggled with consistency.
My Hyatt Private Line Agent in the days of Gold Passport was nothing short of excellent. I worked with the same person for quite some time. They understood my travel needs. They got to know my preferences. More importantly, they got to know my family. I don’t travel with my family anywhere nearly as much as my business travel. But, those family trips are when I really want a bit of extra help.
Once or twice a year, I would reach out for some assistance on family trips. I don’t really need a helipad for my giraffe or rose petals strewn across my walking path as I head to the front desk. With two young children, there’s really only one request that I truly value. Connecting rooms. My Hyatt Private Line Agent was excellent at this. They would reach out to properties ahead of time to work with them to help guarantee connecting rooms. Frequently, we would select a property based on which one was willing to confirm connecting rooms ahead of time.
After all, booking two rooms and finding out they didn’t connect sort of defeats the purpose of the connecting rooms. We don’t all sleep in one room as a family at home and would prefer not to do so on vacation. I rarely started out asking for a suite for the family. In actuality, there are plenty of cases where confirming two connecting rooms was a better fit for our family than a suite.
Fast Forward To Present Day
I felt pretty comfortable moving from Gold Passport to World of Hyatt. I was fortunate enough that I would be keeping the same contact in the new program. They had been so helpful previously. It was great to know that I’d have that continuity. Until I didn’t have it.
Two days prior to the switch-over earlier this year I was informed that I would be getting a new contact as my Hyatt Concierge. My first words for my new concierge? “You have big shoes to fill”. That’s what I told the new contact. I loved my previous contact. They made my travel life better, anticipating my needs. I transitioned a fairly decent piece of my business from SPG to Hyatt because of the excellent service from that dedicated employee.
Since the transition, things have been pretty quiet. I’ve had a handful of garden variety requests, asking my new contact to update a reservation, change a name, or to book a Guest of Honor booking. These all struck me as requests that could have been handled by a normal agent. Still, it was a bit easier being able to shoot off a quick e-mail as opposed to hopping on the phone.
More recently, I’ve had two instances that make me wonder just a bit.
First, I recently had a reservation at a property that was sold out. I had tried to book multiple nights that showed available on the Hyatt website but ultimately wouldn’t confirm. That’s not a big surprise, Hyatt has had some technical issues over the years. Things have improved pretty significantly in my experience.
I sent an e-mail to my contact asking if they could book the nights I was seeing online. They informed me they weren’t able to, either. Fair enough. I replied asking if they wouldn’t mind checking the property’s availability a time or two if they had time over the following week to help try to complete this booking. This is something I’d asked of my previous contact a time or two, and they were always happy to help. In this most recent instance, I never received a reply to my e-mail. I chalked it up to miscommunication and moved on.
My most recent interaction is equally puzzling, though. I asked my concierge to help me with connecting rooms for a midweek stay at a fairly pedestrian Hyatt Place location. Based on the prevailing rate for the week surrounding our one-night stay, I wouldn’t say there’s extreme occupancy issues. The answer I got back was that they had requested connecting rooms. Further, I’d find out if the request would be honored upon check-in.
Now, that was a different response than I was used to. To be clear, I don’t think there’s some magical policy that entitles high-spend guests to connecting rooms, helipads, parking spots for giraffes or any other special request. Sure, I have strong opinions about whether hotels should grant requests like connecting rooms. However, I just wanted to know if my concierge could advocate on my behalf with the property. I asked if this was a change in procedure for the new concierge program. The answer I got back was pretty corporate:
I cannot speak to previous situations, but we cannot guarantee connecting rooms at Hyatt Places prior to arrival. It is based on availability and mutual consent upon arrival.
Look, I used to be one of those guys that bucked the system. I was perfectly content to, ahem, persuade folks to help me accomplish my goal. Long ago, I decided that’s not an effective way to go through life. So, I’m comfortable if this is actually the policy. If my concierge can’t advocate with the property on my behalf, I doubt that’s going to change.
So, What’s The Value Of A My Hyatt Concierge?
That’s a good question. I’m honestly not sure. In the Gold Passport days, there was definitely a YMMV element to your success with a Private Line agent. Maybe that’s still the case today. But, if my concierge isn’t really in a position to advocate on my behalf with a property, I’m not sure the new concierge program holds a lot of value for me.
I’m perfectly capable of submitting a request for connecting rooms. I can call customer service and ask them to help me make a Guest of Honor booking. It’s certainly more helpful to be able to shoot off an e-mail and ask someone to do it for me. And, maybe that’s the implied value of a concierge. If it is, that’s probably not something I’d personally put a lot of weight on when deciding if I wanted to shoot for 60 nights with Hyatt on a yearly basis. I am fortunate enough to have lifetime Globalist status locked up, so I already get many of the benefits someone staying 60 nights gets. I can earn more upgrades and free nights if I push to hit 60 nights on an annual basis. And, I still may. I prefer Hyatt to SPG, and I’m unsure what the merger with Marriott will bring. I’ll probably have an SPG Ambassador in 2019, but according to the new program and the revenue requirements, that will likely be my last year.
Anyway, that’s probably a lot more words than necessary to describe my thoughts on the My Hyatt Concierge. Maybe my attitude will change with more experience. Or, maybe this is the price of rolling out concierge service to (likely) thousands of additional members. It’s hard to deliver that personalized service the larger the circle gets.
If you’re on the fence in regards to the value of Globalist status, I’m just not sure I’d expect a lot of value here.
The post My Hyatt Concierge: My Opinions At The Midway Point Of 2018 was published first on Pizza In Motion