Another Big Move: Hyatt Extending Elite Status And Award Certificates

Nobody knows which end is up or what’s coming next when it comes to the coronavirus crisis.  This is wreaking havoc on the travel industry.  To a lesser degree, it leaves customers with uncertainty about their elite status and awards they have earned.  Those might not seem like important items during the COVID-19 crisis, but it will be important to loyalty program members at some point.  Hilton was one of the first chains to announce elite status extension.  I wrote about the announcement, sharing my opinions.

Hilton announced that if you had status that expired in March of 2020 that it would be extended for a year, until 2021.  If you had status that expired in 2021, that status would be extended until March 31, 2022.  They also announced that free night certificates would be extended until the end of August, 2021.  With their announcement this morning, Hyatt has done what Hilton did, but even better.

Hyatt Extending Elite Status And Award Certificates

Hyatt has 3 announcements in regards to folks who are members of the World of Hyatt program:

  • More time to use points: We are suspending the forfeiture of points through December 31, 2020. As a reminder, our general policy is that points do not expire, but they will be forfeited if a member’s account is inactive for 24 months.
  • More time to use earned awards: All unused Free Night, Suite Upgrade or Club Lounge Access awards with expiration dates between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will be extended to December 31, 2021. This includes existing awards and awards that may be earned throughout this year with a 2020 expiration date. The award extension will be generated by World of Hyatt – members do not need to take action. Awards that expired between March 1 and March 31, 2020 will be replaced with new awards on April 20, 2020. All other qualifying, unused awards will be updated by the 20th day of the month in which the award would have originally expired.
  • More time for elite members to enjoy their status and benefits: Status and benefits will be extended for all existing elite members without having to re-qualify. This means that whatever your status was as of March 31, 2020 – whether Discoverist, Explorist or Globalist – it will be automatically updated to reflect a February 28, 2022 expiration date. All elite tier extensions should be reflected in members’ accounts no later than April 15, 2020.

Indoor “Vault” Pool at Park Hyatt Vienna

Let’s break each of these down.  We’ll take the quick one first:

Hyatt Extending Point Expiration

Hyatt wasn’t really in the points expiration business prior to this announcement.  But, they’re freezing all points expiration until the end of the year.  Many members aren’t focused on their loyalty program balance right now.  With this move, they won’t wake up in 6 months and find their Hyatt points gone.

Hyatt Extending Expiration of Earned Awards

Free Night awards are probably one of the only downsides of the World of Hyatt program for me.  Certain free night awards expired after 180 days.  That might sound like a long time, but they can sometimes be tough to get maximum value out of, especially if they’re valid for any Category 1-7 property.  You don’t want to burn one of those at a random airport hotel!

Now, you won’t have to worry.  Not only is Hyatt extending the dates on any existing free night awards, but any that you earn this year with a 2020 expiration date will be extended until the end of 2021.  Essentially, Hyatt is saying you don’t have to worry when you plan your next vacation, as Hyatt won’t expire these anytime soon.  Suite Upgrade and Club Lounge Access awards get the same treatment.  Hyatt’s Suite Upgrade awards are the best in the hotel loyalty space.  It’s great to see that people won’t be losing these early.

In extending these until December, 2021 Hyatt goes 4 months further than Hilton.

Hyatt Extending Elite Status

Hyatt is extending all elite status through the end of February, 2022.  That means nobody needs to try to qualify in 2020.  This makes sense for Hyatt, and is essentially the same as what Hilton did.  I did confirm with Hyatt that Milestone Rewards like Suite Upgrade Awards are only earned when you hit the number of nights for a specific milestone.  Alas, that means folks who don’t hit 60 nights this year won’t get more Suite Upgrade Awards in 2021.

But, Globalist status is still the most valuable top-tier hotel status out there for my money.  Getting a year of free status (if you can’t qualify this year) is pretty rewarding.

Poolside at Hyatt Regency Tamaya

Hyatt Adding More Flexibility On Reservations

Hyatt also made two announcements on new and existing reservations:

  • Existing reservations for upcoming travel through June 30, 2020: All existing reservations (booked April 1 or before) for arrivals through June 30, 2020 can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival. This includes Advance Purchase Rate reservations.
  • New reservation for any future travel: With some very limited exceptions noted below, reservations booked between April 2, 2020 and June 30, 2020 – for any future arrival date – can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival. This includes Advance Purchase Rate reservations. The only exceptions are reservations booked after April 1, 2020 at Destination Residencesand Special Events Rate reservations booked after April 1, 2020. The cancellation policies for a Special Event Rate will be noted in the rate’s Rate Rules section when booking.

Both of these moves make sense to me.  Giving customers flexibility on existing reservations is a no-brainer in terms of earning their future loyalty.  And, I love seeing that advance purchase reservations (essentially the lowest rates offered) are now fully refundable up until 24 hours prior to arrival.

The Final Two Pennies

When I wrote about Hilton’s announcement last week, I noted that I wasn’t surprised Hyatt was waiting to assess the landscape.  I noted then that their elite status was more valuable than Hilton.  I still stand by that assertion.  But, there was one flaw in my thinking.  Hyatt has kept some of the benefits of status (such as Suite Upgrade Awards) on separate rails with the Milestone Rewards program.  That makes this decision a bit easier to make from a financial standpoint.

Even though you will have to earn Milestone Rewards, I still rank Hyatt Globalist status ahead of all other top-tier elite status.  I love that resort fees are waived on pretty much all reservations.  I love the Globalist breakfast benefit.  Hotels are very generous with suite upgrades.  And, 4pm guaranteed late checkout is so valuable.  Guest of Honor is another benefit I just love.

Pretty great news all-around for Hyatt fans.  Hilton fans already got their love last week.

OK, Marriott.  It’s your turn….

What do you think of Hyatt’s announcements today about elite status?

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