Hyatt’s Faster Free Nights Promo Really is Dead. Long Live Faster Free Nights!

One of the few sources of information that I pay for is Joe Brancatelli’s weekly newsletter. (Another worth paying for, that I used to subscribe to, is Holly Hegeman’s Plane Business.)

Joe has a column up on his interview with Hyatt Gold Passport’s Jeff Zidell, in which he gets Jeff to concede that Faster Free Nights are no longer something to expect from Hyatt (it’s that tenacity which is why I subscribe to the newsletter..).

Zidell explains:

“Faster Free Nights doesn’t work anymore in light of the value we offer on an overall basis in Gold Passport now. And now we offer [points] promotions two or three times a year. Faster Free Nights was once a year, at best.”

Joe called Faster Free Nights “the greatest promotion in the 32-year history of frequent travel programs.”

Every year Hyatt would run an offer where you would stay two time and earn a free night valid at any Hyatt property in the world.

Sometimes the offer required you to pay with a Mastercard. And back in the day, Priceline stays would count and if there were any charges on your bill during your free night, those would often count as a stay towards the next one as well.

We haven’t seen this around in any form from Hyatt since the spring of 2010 (when they called it “Big Welcome Back” but the concept was the same).

Hyatt has grown in size 50% over the past five years, and 40% of properties are now limited-service or extended stay hotels.

Hotels have much higher occupancy than they did two and three years ago, that’s what I mostly attributed the demise of Faster Free Nights to.

I hadn’t considered the changing mix of properties that Hyatt offers, many more at lower price points than before, meaning the economics of the promotion have changed.

And of course points promotions — when they’re rich enough — can be more desirable than free nights which expire. Points promotions are usually my preference, since I would rather build a balance than have to direct my redemptions based on expiring nights (something that’s frustrated me about Marriott Rewards’ MegaBonus nights, which are capped at category 4 redemptions most of the time in contrast to the ability to redeem at any hotel that Hyatt’s Faster Free Nights offered). “FFNs” as they were known were about the only promotion that was so good as to buy me out of this preference.

It’s sad to see the offering go by the wayside. Other chains do continue to make similar, though less rewarding, offers — Marriott MegaBonus, Best Western’s regular stay twice for a free night (generally capped at one free night during the promotion rather than uncapped), last year’s Starwood offering of free resort nights for every three stays. Nothing though has ever been as generous.

Which is also why it shouldn’t be surprising that we don’t have it anymore, all of the best offers will eventually go away, which is why you should enjoy and take advantage of them while you can but not bank on their being around years into the future. That’s an approach to take with all loyalty programs and not just one promotion.

I do think that Gold Passport continues to add a lot of value. Hyatt’s fall promotion is probably a bit better than what competitor chains are offering, and I continue to view Hyatt’s Diamond level as being the most lucrative top elite tier of any major hotel chain.

But that won’t stop my mourning the loss of Faster Free Nights.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Priority Club had a promo a couple years ago where they gave a free night at any PC/IHG hotel for every 2 paid stays as well.

  2. Marriott MegaBonus is odd because the promotions are often targetted. As a Platinum, I usually get an offer for 50,000 points after 25 nights whereas those without status get the (restricted) free night after a lesser amount of nights/stays.

  3. So sad to see FFN gone. It was great in I believe either 2009 or 2010 was great when they offered it twice in one year!

  4. I enjoyed my Hyatt experience with the FFNs and suite upgrades (and also spent plenty in the process). Hyatt is my favorite chain, and the quality is consistent.

    But my measly gold status with Hilton gets me a free breakfast and usually lounge access, so it’s a much better value for me right now.

  5. Wasn’t there at least one year where Hyatt had two periods in which it was possible to earn one free night for two (even one-night) stays?

  6. Never got do the FFN thing, but what I’m most concerned now is Hyatt doing whatever they can to keep award levels where they are at. I *do* find value in GP, but I do all of my Hyatt points from UR transfers.

    As you said, free nights expire, and that kind of sucks. I generally plan my award travel two to three years out*, and FFN nights that expire within a year just don’t work. I like the points, and I like GP’s Category 6 offering at 22,000 points/night. I don’t want to see that change.

    I get all of my points from credit cards, and these days, the better offers require a substantial amount of spend (and a non-trivial period within which to earn it.) So I want a bit of lead time to build the points, yet still have a substantial amount of time prior to travel to grab award seats / rooms.

    Yes, award redemptions and what not can change, but I’d rather have more time than less to work on my redemptions.

  7. Starwood also offered “1 free weekend night (Fri/Sat/Sun) for 2 paid stays” 3 or 4 years ago, capped at Category 6. I recall that many Category 6’s sold out of standard rooms near the end of the redemption period.

  8. I’ve been Hyatt Diamond for 10 years, but won’t continue that status into 2013. Hyatt full-service properties are more expensive than Hiltons, and have offered far less lucrative rewards since 2010 (not just FFN elimination, but cancellation of “Stays Count Double” promos (my favorite) and property-specific G bonuses). With promotions, I get far more points value now at Hiltons, many of which have executive lounges just like Hyatt. And, free breakfast for mid-tier. But, I expect to re-establish Hilton Diamond status in 2013 for more bennies overseas.

  9. Hyatt Gold Passport has really become a shell of its former glory. Hyatt used to have Gx bonus offers which would award an additional 1000-2000 GP points per stay or night. Many GP members had to phone in to get the points to post, and Hyatt eventually removed the Gx offers.

    Instead, Hyatt occasionally offers a bonus points promo which are often equivalent to the Gx offers, but they are much less generous and infrequent. On top of this, the removal of Faster Free Nights removes one of the most loyalty inducing elements of Hyatt’s program: a true motivation to stay and spend money with them. On the negative side, Hyatt has a limited number of locations and often much higher prices relative to the competition. Compare the number of Hyatts in London to the number of Hilton branded hotels and their rates. Hilton wins in a landslide on both of these measures. Hyatt does have some excellent and spectacular hotels, but their limited locations and meager promotional offers make them less attractive as a loyalty program.

    I am glad to learn knowledge of the Gold Passport, as I will continue to reward my loyalty to Hilton HHonors which has run stay 4 nights earn a free night and double or triple points promotions the last few years. AXONs & GLONs for multi night stays represent a good value if you earn points and points in the HHonors program.

    This is truly disappointing that Hyatt has changed the Gold Passport program and removed its best aspects FFN & Gx offers. I have a lot of Hyatt Check certificates I would like to use, but they will likely just be returned.

  10. When the economy tanks again during the next economic cycle, I bet FFN comes back…hopefully that won’t happen anytime soon.

  11. @chitownflyer

    It’s funny, I pretty much don’t pay for revenue stays (all CC bonus/spend reward redemptions for me) so I very rarely pay attention to the earning side of things.

    But to beef up your argument a bit more, Hyatt is week across entire countries, regions, and even continents. Across Western Europe has a whole, they have what, less than one dozen properties? Nothing in Spain, three offerings in France, one hotel in the Netherlands… In SE Asia, they have what, two properties in Thailand (only one in BKK and another in Hua Hin, IIRC), and two in Bali.

    On the plus side, I like that Hyatt Place hotels are many times a Category 1 property. I find them good value for 5k points.

  12. Ah, FFN/BWB, you will be missed. FFNs are what first got me seriously into Hyatt years ago- I remember staying on the other side of town half the time on work trips just because every extra stay I could milk was 1/2 of the way to a night at the PHT. RIP.

  13. I miss FFN! I wonder if they gave thought to
    simply limiting the participating earning brands? Not allowing the bottom tier in the earning category might keep us riff-raff from earning free park Hyatt stays after staying twice on a 59 dollar Hyatt place weekend rate.

  14. While I appreciate bonus points, they pale in comparison to FFN/BWB. Surprisingly, HGP is the LAST program I renewed status in for 2012.

    Because of a failed business venture, I can not be one of the lucky ones with the Credit card. Depending on the timing of SPG and HH promos in 2013, I may not see HGP diamond next year.

  15. The bonus points offers made once or twice yearly are often equivalent to the Gx bonus offers Hyatt used to make available. So there is a reduced ability to earn points and no more Faster Free nights or 5000 bonus points offers after 2 stays. It is really disappointing to see Gold Passport remove so many of the offers that once made this program the best and most rewarding of any hotel loyalty program.

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