I’ve been following the travel loyalty space long enough that when a company tells me that they have exciting news it’s prudent to approach the news with a far bit of skepticism.
When Hyatt reached out to me a few weeks ago inviting me to Chicago to sit down with executives about some new program developments, I was understandably a little bit nervous. After all, Hyatt is more generous than their competition. In a world where public companies are working to maximize shareholder return, it’s reasonable to think that Hyatt may find ways to cut costs in the face of potentially waning demand.
As an aside, I paid for my own flights and lodging to attend the meeting. Hyatt was nice enough to feed me while I was there. I’m a big fan of the Hyatt program. At the same time, I try to be as unbiased as possible and find that covering my own expenses helps me pass the mirror test when evaluating travel brands.
I was assured by my contacts at Hyatt that the news would be good. They were right. I’ll be publishing a second story in the coming days about comments from both Amy Weinberg, Senior Vice President of brand, loyalty and data (who oversees world of Hyatt) and Mark Vondrasek, Hyatt’s Chief Commercial Officer.
Suffice it to say that the new program features align with how Amy and Mark describe the vision for World of Hyatt. The team has put a lot of thought into how to be more rewarding to customers and build loyalty. The changes announced today revolve around the Milestone Reward program.
Guest of Honor Award Changes
Guest of Honor has existed as a Globalist benefit for a number of years. Globalist members could book a Hyatt room for someone else and “gift” them Globalist status for their stay. The Guest of Honor would be treated just like a Globalist, entitled to late checkout, free breakfast and other benefits.
Hyatt is leaning in to this benefit and expanding it in a number of ways starting in January, 2024:
- Guest of Honor awards will be eligible for us on both paid and award stays.
- Guest of Honor awards can be gifted to other World of Hyatt members or used by members prior to earning Globalist status (more on this later).
- The Globalist member gifting a Guest of Honor booking no longer needs to use their points to make a Guest of Honor award booking (though they still can).
- When a member gifts a Guest of Honor award to someone else and the guest completes a stay, the member who gifted the award will also receive one qualifying night credit (the guest will also receive stay credit).
As part of the transition to this new system all current Globalist members will receive five Guest of Honor awards in January, 2024 to get started.
Other New Milestone Reward Options
2K Next Stay Award: Earn 2,000 Bonus Points on your next stay at a Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Caption by Hyatt or UrCove hotel.
FIND Experience Credit: FIND experiences are unique experiences that you can book around the world at various properties. Examples include rare whiskey tastings in Chicago or private chef lessons on Isla Mujeres.
Miraval Extra Night Award: For true heavy hitters who accrue 100 nights or more in a calendar year you’ll be able to choose an award for a free night at any Miraval property when you pay for a night (one free night total per award).
This is in addition to Club Access Awards and Suite Upgrade Awards, which can now be gifted to other members. In addition, all of the new options above can be gifted to other members as well.
New Milestone Rewards Chart
Starting in 2024 Hyatt is rolling out a new Milestone Rewards chart. Milestone Rewards are significant in that many of the benefits of the elite program are not specifically tied to your elite status. Rather, the total number of qualifying nights (or base points) determines which Milestone Rewards you’ll be able to choose from. Here’s a look at the new chart:
- Members can now choose 2K Next Stay Awards or a FIND credit instead of Club Access Awards at the 20 and 30 night level. This is helpful for existing Globalist members who really had no use for Club Access Awards since they already receive club access as part of their Globalist benefits. In addition, a Globalist may still want to select Club Access Awards so they can gift them to another World of Hyatt member.
- Members receive a Guest of Honor award at 40 nights. They can choose to use it for themselves to get a first taste of Globalist benefits or gift it to another World of Hyatt member.
- At 70, 80 and 90 nights guests now have the option to receive a FIND Credit instead of a Suite Upgrade Award or Bonus Points. They’ll also receive a Guest of Honor award at each of those milestones.
- At 100 nights members will now receive a Category 1-7 Free Night Award. They’ll also receive an additional choice of a Miraval Extra Night Award.
- At 110, 120, 130 and 140 nights guest will receive an additional Guest of Honor Award at each threshold along with all the same choices at the 100 night level.
- At 150 nights guests will receive an Ultimate Free Night Award which can be redeemed at any Category 1-8 property or any all-inclusive property in the Hyatt system.
Other Ways To Earn Qualifying Nights
Hyatt is making some adjustments to their meeting planner program and adding some other ways to earn qualifying night credit. They’re keeping the meeting-based program in place just for 2024 but also adding some other paths for 2024 and beyond (the existing program will sunset in 2024).
Meeting planners and those who book travel for others will earn two night credits for every $5,000 in spending they book, including meetings, bookings through Hyatt Prive and IATA bookings, up to a maximum of $150,000 each year. This includes Hyatt Leverage bookings for people other than the administrator as well.
Lifetime Globalist Updates
Lifetime Globalist with Hyatt is arguably one of the most valuable lifetime statuses from a travel brand and absolutely the most valuable hotel status. I’ve been fortunate enough to hold lifetime Globalist status for about 6 years now and I was curious to hear if Hyatt would be making any changes here.
Thankfully, the news is good. For the most part, lifetime Globalist members will continue to enjoy the exact same benefits they’ve enjoyed in the past. That includes Suite Upgrade Awards and other Globalist benefits regardless of whether you stay 60 nights or not, plus the opportunity to earn all the normal Globalist benefits if you qualify by earning 60 nights.
In addition, starting in 2025 lifetime Globalist members will receive five extra Guest of Honor awards each year (awarded in March of each year).
The Final Two Pennies
World of Hyatt has rolled out a number of thoughtful changes. Members will now have more chances at many of the existing milestones. Road warriors and heavy spenders will have extra targets to shoot from by achieving 100 night or more, culminating in the Ultimate Free Night if you can rack up 150 nights.
The Guest of Honor benefit is quite a unique and valuable benefit. While it had unlimited availability for Globalist members in the past, it was also prone to fraud by some members. It was also limited in usage, in that Globalist members needed to use points from their account. The restrictions on the number of Guest of Honor Awards someone can use are reasonable for the vast majority of members, and Hyatt is providing a headstart in 2024 for existing Globalist members to help avoid frustration. The increased flexibility of Guest of Honor makes this benefit even more valuable to members.
As I noted earlier, I’ll be writing another story with more context and thoughts about the changes later this week. For now, I’ll call this a win for Hyatt elite members. It’s definitely most beneficial for Globalist members but even those who achieve fewer than 60 nights will find expanded options.
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