Just a few days ago I reported what appears to be credible rumors of changes that Hyatt was making to their loyalty program. We were expecting changes to Points & Cash awards as well as suite upgrades using points. The changes are official and they’re a mixed bag of positive and negative. Let’s start with the bad stuff.
Points & Cash Changes
Effective November 1st, Points & Cash awards will change to a new formula. The “price” of a Points & Cash booking will be variable, 50% of the points normally required and 50% of the “Standard Rate”. It’s not 100% clear to me what the “Standard Rate” is and whether it will be determined at the property level or by the loyalty program folks. It’s also not 100% clear whether the “Standard Rate” will be determined on an annual basis or calculated more frequently. That means a chart of the new structure is basically useless. But, if you’re a visual person, Hyatt has those laid out for you on their website. Here’s what one looks like:
The one silver lining here is that Points & Cash bookings will extend to suites as well as MGM properties and Miaraval. As it stands today, Points & Cash awards are capacity-controlled at the property level. There is no indication from this announcement of a change in how inventory is controlled.
Premium Suite Awards
Moving forward, members will also be able to redeem points for premium suites. These are essentially priced at double a standard room redemption:
Again, the devil here will be in the details. Right now, you can call World of Hyatt to figure out what type of suite you can book using points for a standard suite award. This is similar to how Globalist members use their suite upgrade awards. At time of booking, each property shows what room types are available. I assume that’s how the process will work for premium suite awards, but that remains to be seen. Hyatt has removed one of the most frustrating parts of redeeming points for a suite. There is no longer a required minimum number of nights for a suite award redemption. Previously, members needed to book at least 3 nights in a suite to redeem this award type.
Using Points To Upgrade A Paid Reservation
The last big change involves upgrading paid reservations. Starting November 1st, members will be able to redeem 9,000 points per night to upgrade their paid reservation to a premium suite. Here’s what that chart looks like going forward:
United Club Passes Going Away
Starting January 1, 2019 Globalist members will no longer receive 2 one-time use United Club passes. This isn’t terribly shocking to me, given how crowded United Clubs are at some airports. I continue to see signs out in front of some clubs refusing entry to folks carrying a one-time pass.
The Final Two Pennies
From a high level, these changes are mostly confusing to me. I’ve heard some of my fellow bloggers gnashing their teeth about the lack of notice that Hyatt has given here. I agree that more notice would have been better. More notice would always be better, right? Personally, I can live with a week’s notice because I haven’t found much useful Points & Cash inventory. This is absolutely bad for some folks and probably should have been announced now as a change starting in 2019.
But, I’m really more focused on the impact this will have on customers. Many details here haven’t been clarified. How much is 50% of the Standard Rate? How often will those rates change? I assume the cash portion is agreed upon at time of booking, but I don’t even have that confirmed just yet. Going forward, members won’t be able to use a chart to determine how much a Points & Cash booking will cost (or, at least I don’t think they will). Does that mean searching each individual property in a market to figure out which one represents the best value?
I sat in a room recently with a couple dozen frequent travelers. Listening to them express their understanding of various programs was eye-opening to me. I know plenty of folks who don’t understand all the details of a specific loyalty program. It’s why I started this blog, to help folks understand how to get the best value from their hard-earned points and miles. However, I’m continuously reminded that most travelers don’t take the time to learn the harder to understand details.
These changes create friction for members. A loyalty program’s primary goal is to build loyalty. That’s been the stated goal at Hyatt. I can recall Jeff Zidell telling me that when he ran Hyatt Gold Passport. I can’t imagine this makes it easier for members to book a Points & Cash award, even if availability increases.
That’s really my hope here, that an increase in the cash component hotels receive encourages them to make inventory more readily available. That would be as close to a “win” here as I can see when thinking about how Points & Cash will work going forward.
The suite upgrade changes sound really nice. But, they’re still thin on details. Availability will ultimately be what it will be. Not much more to say there until we see how properties make this sort of inventory available.
Hyatt has the best suite benefits of any major hotel chains right now, and it’s not even close for top elites. The ability to confirm suites at time of booking for Globalist members is head and shoulders above the competition. I suspect that the changes today are likely to be a net positive for smart members who know how to navigate the ins and outs of the program and enjoy using their points for suites. Sure, we won’t get as good a price on Points & Cash bookings. But, if there was no availability before, we weren’t getting that value anyway. If suites aren’t really your cup of tea, then the only real upside here is whether the Points & Cash change ultimately results in more inventory being made available.
Time to wait and see….
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