It’s that time of year, where I take a look back at 2018 and make a prediction about 2019. I’m always curious what everyone else is doing, so I hope you’ll reply below with what your travel patterns look like (and what your future holds). I broke down airline elite status for 2018 yesterday. Today, it’s hotels. You can find my 2017 review and predictions here if you’re interested. Let’s dig in.
World of Hyatt
I expected Hyatt to be my primary program in 2018. Nothing changed there. There’s a lot to like about Hyatt right now. They just made some tweaks, rolling out Milestone Rewards, which I think is a nice positive for folks climbing the hotel loyalty ladder. Hyatt’s footprint continues to grow with the first bunch of Small Luxury Hotels being folded in. There are almost 500 more SLH hotels that could get added in 2019, along with 70-ish hotels from the likely acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality. It’s not all gravy, with Hyatt making some negative changes to their Points & Cash pricing.
Hyatt has the most rewarding lifetime status programs. They smartly give extra benefits to lifetime members who also qualify the old-fashioned way, doubling up on valuable benefits like free nights and suite upgrades. With all those positives, it shouldn’t surprise anyone I stuck with Hyatt as my primary chain for paid stays:
This was a bit of an odd year for Hyatt, in that the goofy rules for the SPG/Marriott merger made me focus a bit more on SPG than I normally would have. More on that in a bit, but I wanted to make sure I got 100 nights with SPG to get one more year of Ambassador service before Marriott institutes a $20,000 minimum spend level.
That meant I used the new World of Hyatt card and a bit of extra spending to bump up my night credits to hit the number I needed to re-qualify for their top-tier Globalist status. That’s a nice benefit in a pinch. I’d expect the same number of nights, if not a bit more. And, I’d expect Hyatt to get the vast majority of paid stays SPG got in 2018.
Ah, Marriott. You’re a hot mess. The year has been a rough one. When Marriott combined programs in August, we held our collective breath that everything would be okay. It wasn’t. It’s still a mess. After 4 months, I finally got a missing stay from August posted to my account, along with 7 other missing ones. I’m still missing nights I can’t find, but I did get to 100 SPG nights for 2018.
A decent portion of these nights were multiple rooms on award stays where our family would book two rooms for a trip. Plus, I steered some paid stays from Hyatt to SPG that otherwise would have gone to Hyatt. Earlier this month I said that I thought the decision to go for 100 nights with SPG in 2018 would be the last hotel loyalty decision I ever made. I already have lifetime status with Hyatt and I have the highest lifetime status with Marriott that can be achieved.
I don’t think I’ll be focusing on Marriott in 2019. I’m not emotional about it, nor do I think Marriott “owes” me anything after my loyalty to SPG for years. I’m just not a big fan of Marriott making negative changes without telling their customers, especially when they said earlier they wouldn’t. And, I’m not convinced they’re telling us the truth on the massive data breach they announced.
I’m open to being wrong on this prediction. But, I’d be shocked if I’m anywhere near 100 nights with Marriott in 2019.
I keep wanting to type the extra “H”. Pretty sure it’ll always be HHonors to me. Some of my Marriott/SPG business has bled off to Hilton the past couple of years. I thought that trend might continue a bit in 2018. I probably ended up with less total stays at Hilton than I was expecting, partially due to that 100 nights with SPG.
Annual family vacation in Canada where IHG is the best option. Nothing else to see here.
The Final Two Pennies
It’s probably obvious from above, but my plan in 2018 will be to focus on Hyatt. With the acquisitions and 15-20 new Hyatt hotels opening each quarter, it’s becoming easier to be loyal to Hyatt for all of my business. I said last year that I wouldn’t be upset if Marriott took things off the rails. Turns out I was wrong. I am annoyed. But, life goes on. And, life next year should be a steady diet of Hyatt hotels around the world. That probably means a mattress run to have an Ambassador with Marriott in 2019 was a mistake. But, it’s a small one if I get a bit of support. The only prediction I’m not sure about is more stays with Hilton. We’ll have to wait and see.
There you have it. A neat and tidy bow on 2018 and a brief look forward.
How did hotel status turn out for you in 2018? What do you expect in 2019?
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