Hyatt Speaks Out on Hotels Playing Games With Reward Space and Confirmed Upgrades

This week I wrote about two significant challenges with the Hyatt Gold Passport program.

I spoke with Jeff Zidell, Hyatt’s Senior Vice President for the Gold Passport program, about these issues.

He began by acknowledging the issue with awards at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, where the hotel was making standard rooms available only as part of ‘packages’ (such as with breakfast or parking included) and not at the Hyatt Daily Rate — and thus not for points stays.

This isn’t the way it’s supposed to work, Jeff had already researched this issue and reached out to the person responsible for revenue at the hotel. In fact, he reached that individual in Dubai at 11pm local time there. He was committed to getting things fixed right away.

I noted that there have been several other hotels where similar issues have surfaced recently. I mentioned the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort and the Hyatt Olive 8. Jeff acknowledged these but pointed out the issues at these had already been fixed.

Readers have pointed to other hotels, like the Hyatt Regency Austin and Atlanta Midtown, but I wasn’t able to confirm those myself (I saw plenty of award space and no discrepancies between standard rooms and award nights at each).

Jeff wasn’t ready to say there’s a pattern, and suggested that when something like this happens it isn’t always intentional on the hotel’s part either — there are mistakes at the hotel level and also IT problems that creep up. And while he’d much rather discover the issues internally and fix them right away, he appreciates learning about them whenever they do happen because these issues don’t reflect how the program is supposed to work and he wants to get them fixed right away.

I also raised the issue that Diamond Suite Upgrades were being made available at some hotels only on certain rates. This is something that some hotel General Managers have stated, and it’s something that Hyatt has appeared to suggest to several readers on Twitter and also reportedly seemed to suggest on Flyertalk as well.

But as I wrote, that’s not the way it’s supposed to work. Diamond Suite Upgrades are valid on any paid rate, cash and points are considered paid rates for this purpose, and these upgrades aren’t capacity controlled. There certainly aren’t supposed to be different inventory buckets for different rates.

I would add, though, that a hotel might not have standard suites available that Diamond upgrades are eligible to be used for — but a hotel has the discretion to go above and beyond and make better suites available. I’ve seen them do this even on award nights (where Diamond Suite Upgrades aren’t supposed to be valid at all.) My point though is that this can look like inconsistency or capacity controls — no standard suites available, but a hotel offering to book a higher suite category on a paid night but not a cash and points hotel night. That doesn’t appear to me to be what’s happening in most cases, but it’s something that does happen.

The bottom line is that Hyatt is interested in knowing if a hotel appears to have standard rooms available, but not reward nights, so that it can resolve the matter. If a standard room is available for booking with cash it should be available on points.

And Diamond Suite Upgrades are supposed to be valid on any paid rate, including cash and points, and we’ll be hearing more soon to clarify this issue.

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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  1. Did Jeff tell you if ordinary customers can do anything about this? e.g. will travelers be able to call up Gold Passport and get a rep to override or contact the hotel to fix?

    Without such a commitment, it’s not a useful statement in the short term.

  2. Great advocacy for your readers, Gary! Thank you.

    Now if only the same thing happens with American! Even if it’s only a public confirmation of the truth we suspect.

  3. I think Andaz Napa is doing this as well. Base loft room is available, for example, 8/15, but points option is not available.

  4. Good article and thank you. Interesting that the Olive 8 was mentioned I have had numerous incidents where checking in no nada and more nada with any type of upgrade, in fact one time my room as so bad I had to go back down and complain. Now in all fairness if this was either my first time here or for one night ok, but I use to stay here at least once a month. I will not stay there anymore as I have told my ” My Concierge” in Omaha !

    Some properties are wonderful at taking care of Diamonds, in fact the GH in Dubai is as good as some PH “s

  5. I’ve seen more subtle holding back of standard rooms in Green Bay, where a King bed room is available for points, but a two bedded standard room is bundled with the “Breakfast package” and not available for points. In the end, you have to decide whether to continue to reward properties with your patronage or move on.

  6. Hello Gary,
    Can you clarify about the Suite upgrades? I tried to use a DSU at a property where I used P+C to book a room and they said there was no suite to upgrade. However, there are other available ones besides the one they use for DSU and I can pay extra to get into those. Do you have any advice?

  7. This is very helpful. Maybe you can help me. I know using DSU at PH Chicago is difficult. I’ve been trying for months. I have a P+C booking, but can’t seem to use my DSU at all. There are plenty of other suites available for my date, just not the one the hotel designated.

  8. i call bs on your hyatt contact’s words. the diamond desk does not echo his words at all. further, the ‘ole ‘it’s maybe an accident due to IT/whatever’ is a super convenient cover story for all properties to use IF caught and IF Zidell/whoever decides to ‘intervene’. if it were really policy to enforce policy, there would be penalties to properties AND it would be something that HGP would overturn on the spot when called to their attention by a call to the diamond desk- or any level CSR. instead, it’s ‘sorry, no standard rooms available’ bs. bottom line- they HAVE blackout dates- just not in compliance with their own T&C…

  9. HR Austin seems to do this during special events. For example, Oct 23-26 2015, standard rooms available only as “F1 package” (INCLUDES: – Evening turndown service each night of your stay – High-speed Internet – Newspaper – In-room water included) , so no HDR and no awards.

  10. Jeff’s good at throwing out horseshit….that’s his job, that’s why he got hired. Now, having said that, thanks for “bringing it to his attention” cause lord knows one of us peons has no chance in hell of even getting that. Cheers!

  11. No luck at PH Vendome.
    HGP Diamond line said “you should be able to use DSU on a P&C rate” but the system won’t allow them. IT will allow DSU on other rates, but It should be possible if I call between 9A and 5P Paris time.”

    I’ll try that, but I think even when I jump through that hoop there will be some other B.S. rule that crops up.

  12. What about point and cash? If they have standard rooms and they also have point booking available are they supposed to offer point and cash? I’m having this problem currently with Hyatt Le Louvre Paris where they just offer me standard rooms paid rates or the full point but not point and cash. Please advise if I should take it up with Hyatt Diamond desk

  13. Hyatt New Orleans convention center does this with a “parking package” during big events like Mardi Gras.

  14. People expecting changes in less than 24 hours or whatever hours since Jeff Z. told Gary about this… sheesh.

  15. The HR Cincinnati was playing this game by continuing to sell standard rooms on their site as well as 3rd party sites, but not making any available for booking with points. The actual T&C state that the standard room must be available at the HDR, which wasn’t always the case. I had to go back and forth with them and they eventually opened the rooms.

  16. I just booked Grand Hyatt Tokyo for two nights on points + Cash. When I asked for diamond suite upgrade, the customer service rep told me that the property is not allowing DSU on P+C as this is not an eligible rate for DSU for this property. Am I missing something as I thought that as long as a standard suite is available I can use one of my Diamond suite upgrade certificates.

  17. @Sarwar that is how it is supposed to work. And this is the problem that Jeff Zidell agreed to look into. Do they have availability for standard suites, where you could book it with additional points or a Diamond Suite Upgrade when booking the Hyatt Daily Rate?

  18. @Sarwar: I had a similar experience at GH Tokyo, though not with DSU. Have Diamond but got bottom of barrel room at checkin. Didnt want to be a princess, but at least wanted room not by stairwell so that I could sleep. Asked for even a single-class upgrade (and surely was the first Diamond member ever to ask for something).

    They apologised bc “no upgrades are available.” I showed them that they appeared to be selling rooms at every level up to suite, then proceeded to book on the iPhone app while speaking to them, and then asked if I could just get the room I booked a second ago. This was a king room, not even a suite.

    “That’s an IT error. We are unfortunately sold out.”

  19. Funny he said that because I called the gold member number (Platinum member) to see if the was a Computer glitch with August 8 at the Grand Hyatt Seattle because rooms were available on third-party sites as well as their own ($349) but not available for points or Visa award night. They told me that the brokers buy up the standard rooms and so they have limited ones available. The hotel is now sold out for 8/8/15. So while I have reservations there on 8/7/15 on points I have to change hotels for the night of 8/8. Same thing happened when I checked Vancouver. Disappointed because I already transferred my Chase member points to use at Hyatt & this is my last summer doing two week ballpark tours (try to use points as much as possible to offset trip cost).

  20. @Al – no, they don’t have to let you book a room for P&C–those are capacity controlled. BUT, as Gary said, if you have a room that is either cash or P&C (but not 100% points), and have a DSU, and they have a suite, you are supposed to get it, regardless.

  21. Swag-
    Special events usually require hotels to require minimum night stays, for instance when a town hosts the Final Four, a percentage of hotels require 3-night minimums. I’ve planned events in Austin and pretty sure that was a requirement when we did the first F1 event. The event thinks that minimum means more rooms are available for their ticket holders, with >100k at F1, more rooms blocked out.

  22. To bad you didn’t discuss horrid bit allowing suite upgrades on paid rates too. 3.5 years if being diamond and only 1 mattress run night has been approved. All others have gone to waste.

    How about the silent devaluation at Andaz Maui where they changed the room for the upgrade to the extremely limited pool side rooms.

  23. Looking in to Andaz maui looks like mountain view is there basic room but when you click points No room can be booked. looks like this all jan feb mar and April i tried looking at a hawaii trip for next year

  24. Gary, I’m having the same issue as Michael. I’ve looked up a ton of different weekday and weekend dates at the Andaz Maui from Jan to June 2016 with ZERO award availability. I did see some reward inventory in November, but that isn’t going to work for me. And like all other incidences, standard rooms are available, but they’re being sold under the “Andaz Rate” and not the “Hyatt Daily Rate”

  25. Yeah, same with Hyatt French Quarter New Orleans. My most recent issue with them is I try to book October 30 – November 1 – no space available. BUT if I try to book October 30 – November 2, rooms magically appear at $499/night. Now that’s not right! I can book 3 nights but not 2.

  26. Is there any recourse in situations like this? Hyatt Newport RI is apt to play these games. For example, is showing standard room available for the date (July 11) but would not allow booking of the standard room by phone or online. The rep on the phone said that they block off some rooms for Platinum/Diamond members but these standard rooms cannot be booked using points. How does that work in the context of their own T&C, she could not explain. Frankly, my enthusiasm at staying in Hyatts has been significantly dampened since it is so incredibly hard to book an award stay in the few properties I have the most realistic chance of traveling to…

  27. @Julie (1) the agent can contact the hotel and get them to open space, (2) hyatt gold passport can follow up, on a holiday weekend it’s unlikely much can be done as the people who can fix problems aren’t likely around

  28. Gary, thank you. I will try that on Monday. The agent I spoke with on Sunday had no interest in additional help other than stating that I can’t book the standard room on points for that date (despite availability), but I might get lucky with another agent.

  29. @Gary, I’ve reached out to Hyatt via phone & Twitter regarding this occurrence at the Andaz Maui and all the reps weren’t willing to open up space. I’ve checked a variety of dates through 2016, but am planning on traveling in mid-February. Standard Mountain View Rooms are available at the “Andaz Rate or “Bed & Breakfast Rate” but My Hyatt Rates aren’t available. Period. Any suggestions?

  30. Identical games being played by Hyatt Boston Harbor for summer stays. Any advice on how to break through the B.S.

    They’ve got plenty of hypo allergenic rooms available. And what’s the difference between hypo allergenic room and a standard room. A little air freshener and a $20 pillow. Geez.

  31. Additional comments re: Hyatt Boston Harbor. They also are selling rooms with complimentary internet and breakfast for an extra $10 over standard rooms. And those “Business Plan” rooms are not available for points.

  32. Second to the issue for Andaz Maui. I am planning a vacation next summer, about 10 months away from now, but cannot find any space available for points. I checked different dates throughout next 10 months, none is available.

  33. I am trying to book Hyatt Escala Lodge in Park City and every holiday weekend is blacked out for point redemption. Similar to some of the other posts, what is the process that I need to go through with Hyatt. Their Gold Passport call center reps are no help. Do I ask for a supervisor? Do I call hotel directly and make a stink?

  34. Gary, similar to what Danielle posted last December the Hyatt Centric Park City seems like it might be playing games. I have been doing searches for Sep 2016 around the 16-18 weekend as well as the 23-25 weekend. The only time I can find a room available with points is when they have an ADA King room available. This doesn’t seem right to me as there are plenty of other days where a regular Deluxe King room is available and there is no points availability. Any thoughts on this or who to contact? Gold Passport agents seem to just defer saying the hotels control their points availability but it doesn’t seem like this falls within the rules they have set.

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