Yesterday the Hyatt Gold Passport system was showing award redemption prices in error for some hotels.
Take the Park Hyatt Chicago, which normally runs 25,000 points per night as a category 6 hotel. It was showing up at 35,000 points:
Now, 35,000 points isn’t even a thing in Gold Passport. The top price for a standard room is category 7, which is 30,000 points per night.
The same thing was showing up for the New York hotels, by the way.
When I clicked through to the property, the number of points required for the hotel didn’t even appear.
Reserving the room the price showed up as ‘confidential’.
I made the booking just to see what would happen, and 25,000 points were deducted. As it should have been. (I then cancelled and got my points back.)
If there was ever an obvious glitch, this is it.
And it wasn’t even a glitch that:
- Overcharged anyone
- Charged 0 points, allowing folks to book rooms at no cost
It was an error in how the points prices were showing.
Yet I received several emails and a few tweets from folks who were scared that this was foreshadowing… that it meant Hyatt was in the process of loading new, higher award rates.
I didn’t think so at all, Hyatt had just recently made its award chart changes for the year. Like any given change they’ve made or not (and I’m of course not a fan of the introduction of rewards category 7, or increased points prices for suite upgrades, that went into effect in 2014), we’ve been given notice of changes.
I shot Jeff Zidell, who runs the program, a quick email to confirm that there were no new plans to introduce higher award pricing, that this hadn’t just slipped out. And got a quick reply:
I get why someone would expect and fear that a glitch means something if that something is negative coming from Delta or Hilton. They’ve developed a reputation for devaluing and for making changes without bothering to clearly communicate those in advance to members. That hasn’t been Hyatt’s M.O.
Something that really works to our detriment as members is that the world at large doesn’t always differentiate between the value and reputation of the various loyalty programs. That creates a tragedy of the commons, there’s a tendency to devalue because people won’t differentiate the value propositions of programs anyway. Either they’re all bad so it doesn’t matter, or there’ll be little awareness of the devaluation, allowing a program to free ride on the value driven by other chains or airlines.
That’s why it’s important for those of us who do follow these things closely to pay attention to the program we’re dealing with, to their reputation, and then shout it from the rooftops.
This was never going to be a stealth devaluation. Program reputation does still matter, at least a little.