Hyatt Announces Free Internet for All Guests: Leaves Hilton in the Cold, and Calls Attention to Sparse Gold Passport Platinum Status

Last Wednesday I wrote that Starwood is introducing free internet for all guests and that this follows Marriott and also IHG.

At the time I wrote,

It will be interesting to see how long Hyatt (which just extended its room type guarantee to all members) and Hilton can buck the trend, or whether they’ll lose business to Marriott, Starwood, and IHG.

Now we know, at least for Hyatt.

Starting in February, all Hyatts will offer complimentary wireless internet in guest rooms and social spaces (presumably this excludes conference rooms) to all guests.

  • They won’t require a loyalty program account to get the internet.
  • They won’t require booking through their own booking channels, excluding online travel agencies (as Marriott and Starwood policies require), either.

Hyatt’s Platinum and Diamond members will receive premium speed at hotels where there’s a differentiation. (Hotels throttle speeds because a small number of guests use the majority of bandwidth.)

Clearly internet connectivity has become a ‘basic utility’ like running water when staying somewhere. It’s expected, not something that can be charged extra for any longer. Bundling makes sense when marginal costs to provide a service are low (and contra airlines charging checked bag fees, there’s no distortionary tax effects).

Presently there are really two benefits to Hyatt Platinum: free internet and 2pm checkout. Come February Platinum will mean getting upgraded internet in some hotels and 2pm checkout. While this move doesn’t take anything at all away from the Platinum level, it means there’s less to distinguish that level from a basic member. Strictly speaking there’s also a 72 hour availability guarantee (paying an override rate) and a 15% bonus on points-earning for spend with Hyatt hotels. But those aren’t really top line benefits.

As Hyatt improves the guest experience for all guests I think they’ll also need to improve the marginal experience for Platinum guests specifically as well. Diamond strikes me as sufficiently rewarding to not need special attention here as a result of this change — breakfast or club access and confirmed suites remain meaningful benefits to Gold Passport’s top published tier.

Meanwhile, Hilton now stands alone as the major chain that hasn’t announced free internet for all guests. Tick, tock.


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 InsideFlyer.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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Comments

  1. Per Starwood- It should be noted that more than likely the “FREE” internet is what they call super slow internet for email. The “PREMIUM” internet will be at a cost of more than likely $9.95 a day or more. SPG usually waives that for Plats, I am not sure about Golds. The point about Internet being a basic utility is true. What has been funny is upscale hotels have been charging some crazy fees for years while more inexpensive hotels had free internet. Of course the ability to use some of this can vary. In Vegas internet is usalyl part of the scam resort fees.

  2. I’m still prepared to be bombed by blogs trying to shove FTU tickets down your throat with “Free Hyatt Platinum”.

  3. “(Hotels throttle speeds because a small number of guests use the majority of bandwidth.)”

    Or they do it to upsell you to “business class” broadband.

    IOW, the same reason a bottle of water from the mini bar is like $5 or more, as an opportunity to increase your bill. Or what they charge for phone calls.

    Give you free slow wifi to goad you into paying for faster wifi.

    Fortunately there is LTE so you don’t have to put up with that nonsense.

    Unless they’re blocking cellular hotspot signals, as one hotel did recently.

  4. Good point. I have to say, at some places, PLTs are still treated pretty well. We were the only PLTs checking in at the key west resort last year and got a jr. suite.

    I was a diamond for many years, but Seattle is not a place to look for cheap stays, so we just gave up trying when biz travel was reduced.

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