Hyatt Rolls Out Milestone Rewards, New Benefits For Elite Members

Hyatt has been making news lately with a couple of big increases to their footprint.  Members can now earn and redeem World of Hyatt points at over 50 Small Luxury Hotels of the World.  We’re hopeful this is part of a much larger rollout, since SLH has over 500 hotels worldwide.  Hyatt also announced the acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality, which could add another 70+ hotels to the fold.  It hasn’t all been good news, as the price of Points & Cash awards increased.  Now, Hyatt has is announcing some changes to their loyalty program that will affect most elite members.

World of Hyatt Milestone Rewards

With Milestone Rewards, Hyatt has made it easier for more members to get a taste of elite benefits.  Here’s a look at the full chart Hyatt shared with me about the changes:

Let’s take a closer look at the changes.  There are positive and negative changes.

Positive Changes

  • 2 Club Lounge access awards at 20 nights/35,000 points: Hyatt is accelerating 2 of the Club Lounge access awards that were previously awarded when earning Explorist status at 30 nights.  Once you reach 30 nights or 50,000 Base Points, you’ll only receive 2 additional Club Lounge awards.  So, you still receive the same number if your goal was to hit Explorist.  But, folks who can only squeeze out 20 nights get a small benefit.
  • A choice of 5,000 points, a $100 Hyatt gift card or save 10,000 points on a FIND experience at 40 nights or 65,000 Base Points.  This is a completely new award and a nice added benefit for members who reach 40 nights.  If you can’t make it all the way to Globalist you’ll still get a nice benefit for stretching a bit past Explorist.  The $100 gift card seems like the clear choice here, especially since you can use it to help pay for a future stay to get you closer to the next milestone.
  • 2 suite upgrade awards at 50 nights or 80,000 qualifying points.  Again, another benefit for customers stretching to try to hit Globalist but might be coming up a bit short.  The other nice thing about this change is that it gives Globalist members a chance to use two of their suite upgrade awards a bit earlier in the year. NOTE: I did confirm with Hyatt that you’ll still have until the end of the following year to use up your suite upgrade awards even though you’re receiving them earlier.

Negative Change

There’s really only one negative change that I can see.  Starting in 2020, Hyatt will be retiring the ability to re-qualify for Globalist status with 55 nights.  Instead, 60 nights will be the threshold to qualify for all members.  I’m of two minds on this change.

First, I’m pleased to see that they’re giving members plenty of notice.  We have over a year before the new qualification requirements begin.  That sort of notice is respectful of members, not like Delta changing award benefits for top-tier elite members with no notice at all.

Second, there are a lot of ways to boost your night count with Hyatt that didn’t used to exist.  For starters, there are plenty more hotels, especially when you consider that stays at the 54 eligible SLH hotels all count.  Award stays count.  And, spending on the new World of Hyatt credit card also helps boost your elite status. Does that make 60 the new 55?  If you’re loyal to the Hyatt brand and hold their credit card, yes.

Okay, I lied.  I have a third thought on the change to 60 nights.  I’m a bit surprised Hyatt is choosing to announce this now.  Marriott is still continuing to convince customers to go elsewhere.  Now seems like a time to be focusing on acquiring as many of their customers as possible.

Nuts And Bolts

There are some bits and pieces around the timing of the rollout and how it affects members.  Quoting from the press release:

Activity starting January 1, 2019, will count toward earning Milestone Rewards. Members will only earn benefits associated with milestones once per year. For example, if members qualify (or re-qualify) for Explorist or Globalist status in January or February 2019 and have already been awarded certain benefits in 2019 by the time Milestone Rewards start on March 1st, then those benefits will not be granted again in 2019.

In addition to these evolved benefits, a few other changes will be made to current elite tier awards.

  • Club lounge access awards can now be earned sooner and will no longer be awarded with Explorist status. In 2019, members can earn a maximum of four Club access awards whether they 1) earn Explorist status January 1 – February 28 or 2) stay 30 qualifying nights or earn 50,000 Base Points over the course of a calendar year. Completing more than one of these actions will not earn additional Club access awards. In 2020, Club access awards will only be awarded as follows: 2 at 20 qualifying nights or 35,000 Base Points and 2 more at 30 qualifying nights or 50,000 Base Points.
    • Members who downgrade to Explorist status on March 1, 2019 as part of program renewal will still receive 4 Club lounge access awards. Starting in 2020, Club lounge access awards will only be awarded based on nights stayed or base points earned through qualifying Milestone Reward activity
    • Hyatt Credit Cardholders will still earn 4 Club lounge access awards and Explorist status after spending $50,000 on purchases in 2019. Starting in 2020, Club lounge access awards will only be awarded based on nights stayed or base points earned through qualifying Milestone Reward activity
  • Starting in 2020, members will need to stay 60 qualifying nights (including paid and award nights) to re-qualify for Globalist status, and will no longer re-qualify at 55 nights

The Final Two Pennies

Hyatt’s top-tier Globalist status is still a much lower requirement at 60 nights versus 75 nights for the new Marriott program (ignore the 100+ night level at Marriott).  This is normally when people will cry, “Hyatt’s footprint is so much smaller!”  They’re right, it is smaller.  But, Hyatt is in many more places than they used to be, and most of the markets you need them to be.  When you add in award nights and credit card spend, 60 nights will be easier to achieve.

I like the way Hyatt is thinking about Milestone Rewards.  I’m sure the goal is to induce people to keep increasing their business with Hyatt to stretch to that next level.  I think it’ll be good for loyalty members who “set it and forget it” and stick with one chain.  Now, coming up a few nights short of a status level will still get you some pretty decent perks.

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2 Comments

  1. My only real gripe with the changes is that as a renewing Globalist I have club lounge access anyway, so it’d be preferable to get something that I could actually use rather than club lounge access awards. As an alternative, maybe they could make these transferable, so I could offer them to friends or family.

    On a separate note, any idea what a FIND experience is? This is the first I’ve heard of it.

    Lastly, can you still spend your way to Globalist on the Hyatt credit card in 2020? Not necessarily the smartest idea for most people, but good to know.

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