Hyatt has announced some more changes and extensions to key benefits that should benefit most travelers. In light of the virtually unprecedented financial impact of COVID-19, travel brands have had to quickly adapt. Back in April, Hyatt moved to extend elite status and other key benefits such as free night awards. At that point, nobody was really sure when travel would rebound. The big chains made the decision to wave the white flag on getting loyalty members to qualify for status in 2020. Now, Hyatt is tweaking a few things in an effort to keep customers happy.
Hyatt Extending Points Expiration
Hyatt has announced that your points are safe until at least June 30, 2021. They had already announced that points wouldn’t be subject to expiration through the end of this year (2020). This gives customers a bit more time to have some qualifying account activity to keep points from expiring. One of the reasons I love the Chase Sapphire and Chase Ink credit cards is that a simple transfer from your Ultimate Rewards account (Chase’s proprietary points currency) counts as activity to extend your expiration.
Hyatt Extends Expiration Date On Free Nights, Suite Upgrades and Club Lounge Awards
Hyatt has also announced that any free night awards, suite upgrades or club lounge access awards earned with a 2020 or 2021 expiration date will now expire at the end of 2021. Again, this is an acknowledgment that people just aren’t traveling right now. It’s also good for customers, no rush to burn these up on a less valuable award stay or lose them. Despite a similar policy at Marriott, I have heard from friends and readers who have had free night certificates expire despite repeated calls to Marriott.
Award Category Changes
There are a small amount of properties that are moving up or down in award categories. The list is fairly small, all things considered:
Many of these properties are new to the chain as part of recent acquisitions. While I love seeing properties go down in category, I can’t see any rationale at all for the amount of points to book a room would go up right now, given the lack of demand right now. Heck, Major League Baseball was able to completely buy out the Park Hyatt Aviara without much notice recently for the playoffs.
The Final Two Pennies
Hyatt is doing the right thing here by continuing to move the deadlines further down the road for expiration of key benefits. I suspect we’ll see the other major chains follow shortly enough. Demand just isn’t there right now. And, for some of these benefits, such as Suite Upgrade awards, the cost is negligible to provide the benefit. There’s no immediate cost to extend the expiration date. And, the ability to upgrade to a suite might be incentive for a loyal customer to book a leisure trip with Hyatt when they are ready to travel. That’s especially true with Hyatt’s exceptionally rewarding promotion right now (up to quadruple points, you can register here).
Gary Leff and I sat down for a wide-ranging discussion recently on the future of travel. It’s clear to both of us that airline and hotel chains need elite members to lead the path to recovery. It makes sense that chains like Hyatt will continue to pull levers to keep customers engaged, and prevent those loyal members from getting a wandering eye.
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