Hyatt Announcing a Change to Their Diamond Suite Upgrades Today

Hyatt Gold Passport has my absolute favorite hotel benefit: Diamond members get to confirm a suite at booking 4 times per year (up to 7 nights at a time). Instead of hoping for an upgrade close to arrival or at the check-in counter, you throw down one of your trump cards and your base-level room reservation confirms into a suite, provided that the hotel has base-level suites for sale.

Hyatt’s Jeff Zidell tells me that they’re going to be announcing a change to the way that Diamond Suite Upgrades work later today.

Diamond members enjoy many exclusive privileges including suite upgrades at the time of reservation four times annually on eligible paid nights. On March 1, 2016, Diamond members will receive four new Diamond Suite Upgrade Awards, and we want to provide clarity on an upcoming modification to the redemption period.

What’s Changing? Suite awards issued on or after March 1, 2016 must be redeemed for reservations with a checkout date prior to the expiration date of the award. Suite awards not redeemed prior to the expiration date of the award will be forfeited.

What’s not changing? Suite awards issued prior to March 1, 2016, must be redeemed by making a reservation no later than the last day of February 2016 for future reservations. In the event one of these Suite awards is redeemed for stay dates beyond the expiration date and the reservation is cancelled after the last day of February 2016, the Suite award will be forfeited.

These changes will be reflected on our website and within our Terms and Conditions on February 1, 2016.


Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

Members starting getting a whiff of this at the beginning of December because phone agents were having to perform a workaround to use existing suite upgrades on reservations after the expiration date on the upgrades. About six weeks ago Hyatt specifically said, however, that they were not making this change. That’s unfortunate.

I don’t see lack of notice of this change being a big deal, since it doesn’t affect hotel stays before March 2017. But I do see a real problem with the substance of the change.

  • Diamond Suite Upgrades aren’t awarded until March 1.
  • You can’t use prior year upgrades to upgrade a stay that extends into March.
  • The best availability for these upgrades tends to be booking in advance.

It pretty much means Diamonds won’t be able to upgrade to suites at a whole bunch of popular hotels, especially those with limited suites, during March, April, and May.


Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

The great thing about Diamond Suite Upgrades is that a member doesn’t value the upgrade the same on every trip. But they can choose the 4 times a year when they do. And those tend to be more on leisure trips than business trips. And leisure trips tend to be booked farther out than business trips (at least the important ones).

And Diamonds who plan their travel much in advance will have a difficult time using the benefit for a good chunk of the window in which they might travel. Many airline awards are booked 11 months out from travel. It now becomes impossible to book an airline award far in advance and confirm a suite for a hotel stay at the same time for much of the year. That’s why the details of this will matter to at least a significant subset of Diamond members.

What Hyatt needs to do, along with this change, is to award Diamond Suite Upgrades when a member requalifies for their status rather than depositing them into all Diamond member accounts March 1. That would let at least some Diamonds book suites earlier, and it would provide an incentive to requalify for Diamond status sooner. As it stands, with no elite benefit to staying more than 25 times or 50 nights in a year I may let my requalification go until December. In fact, since you only get 4 confirmed suite upgrades no matter how many times you stay my inclination is not to exceed 50 nights by very much. Hyatt could fix this.


View from my Deck at the Park Hyatt Dubai

For your upgrades expiring at the end of next month, start thinking about where you might use them, because you can still apply them to stays past February 28 if you book before then. For the current suite upgrades you do not have to actually stay by the end of February, you just need to apply these suite upgrades prior to expiration. They can be for any stay into the future where a suite can be confirmed. (If you cancel the reservation after the suite upgrades have expired, you’ll lose the suite upgrades.) It’s the suite upgrades being issued March 1 where this rule will change.

In the meantime, I wish they’d have prioritized getting hotels to make suite upgrades available to Diamonds on all rates as they’re supposed to while they were tinkering with the program.

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. […] Hyatt did change the Suite Upgrade Award terms for 2016 to exclude stays booked beyond the upgrade expiration date. But for Suite Upgrades earned prior to the change, you could apply them to future stays provided they were redeemed by XXXX. And that’s what I did. I was still a Diamond (earned not matched) and the upgrades were still valid when applied to my reservations. Nothing was said about having them taken away if I didn’t maintain Diamond Status. […]

Comments

  1. I wish I knew why they were making this change. Are they trying to make sure that suite occupancy in February 2017 is really, really full?

    And I definitely agree with you on your last point. Took three days and lots of calls and social media shaming to get Park Hyatt Tokyo to honor a DSU for a Points + Cash rate reservation.

  2. The most restricted/restrictive, limited/limiting top-tier elite suite upgrade just became even more so…

  3. The self-appointed “Thought Leader in Travel” just wrote: ” About six weeks ago Hyatt specifically said, however, that they were not making this change. That’s unfortunate.”

    About 6 weeks ago in the comments section of the same post I had made the following — now correct — prediction:

    “The [rumored change to DSU] suggests to me that it may be yet another fallout from the latest botched Diamond status match by HGP — the most unstable hotel loyalty program, which travel bloggers inexplicably keep touting as the “best in the business.”

    The HGP program managers may have just realized the insanity of giving away to new members 4 DSUs that would be good to Feb 2016 and then immediately giving to the same new members, who have yet to prove their loyalty, 4 more DSUs that would be good to Feb 2017. If the current policy of allowing DSUs to be applied for stays beyond their expiration date remains in place, then these new members would essentially have 8 DSUs to use for 2016-2017, which would flood the system with upgrade requests [already may have], thereby negatively affecting the availability for HGP Diamonds who earned their status the hard way…

    The rumored change about limiting the period of validity of DSUs to their expiration date is, therefore, almost certainly true because it is being considered as a preventive measure to limit or undo the potential damage of giving away so many DSUs.

    [Here’s the prediction]: If the past is any indication, I predict that DSUs — already the most restricted and restrictive elite suite upgrades in the business — will be changed to be valid only up their expiration date.”

    G’day!

  4. This isn’t really an issue for me because I’m never able to redeem my DSUs! Even when I book far in advance the properties never allow an upgrade, but they are available if I pay for it. What a sham.

  5. I had a feeling. Any time there’s a large IT upgrade of some system, it’s usually to tighten the screws. I called the Diamond line last night, and they told me that they don’t have a record of the prior year’s DSUs in their GP system. That now makes sense.

    This change sucks. I already have 43 nights reserved for 2016, and upgrades applied to properties where it’s available. I’m 100% recreational travel, so it’s not like I can just decide to take another 28 nights off work just to use my DSUs. Sigh.

  6. Yes Gary, I am disappointed with this change, but not overly and here is why.

    The Diamond suite upgrade perk is plagued with several problems. One of them is that availability is often pretty poor. I usually end the year only redeeming 1 or 2 of them anyhow. The are very restrictive in the type of suite that you can get. I would prefer it if they would let you standby for an upgrade into the lowest level suite available at check in. So you could get a grand suite, if only a standard suite was available.

    Another issue is what they call a suite? What is a suite. There are a few properties such as Aruba, where for some reason they call their suites a suite. For the life of me I couldn’t understand why they called the standard room a suite. The only thing I can think of is that beside the desk there is a love seat, instead of the usual chair.

    Finally the last issue as to why I rarely use the benefit is because a few times they buggered up my rate. So instead of paying the regular rate, I paid some sort of higher rate. At checkout I argued but without success. And, I stupidly had deleted my confirmation emails so I didn’t have a proper documentation. But on subsequent suite upgrades, I have noticed RATE changes, and have been more diligent with getting them corrected before the stay but it has really is a hassle to phone back and get them to check and change.

    But all that said, I don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. I appreciate the suite upgrades and hope they don’t take away that benefit. But really, the suite upgrades are to me the least valuable Hyatt Diamond benefit anyhow…..

  7. I hate to beat a dead horse but I just called trying to use a DSU on a points & cash reservation. The agent looked on her computer and said this…

    Agent: “Unfortunately, points and cash DSU space is not available right now. Let me check on the cash rate… looks like those are actually unavailable as well”

    So they have different buckets of DSU availability for both cash/points and cash?

  8. 2016 has to be off and running as Hyatt’s most disappointing kick off in years 🙁
    The closing of Hyatt Century Plaza leaving potential guests a horrendous selection of
    sub par LA area hotels
    The loss of AARP rates.
    The ongoing demise of the conformable upgrade benefit and availability issues
    and the allowing of hotels to erode the benefit by giving out fake suites 2 select hotels (rooms that aren’t suites or poorly located down graded )
    Club lounges some that are going the way of Hilton serving stingy cheap crap
    The flooding of fake Diamonds. The only hotel company without a promotion
    I booked 30 nights with SPG Hilton and IHG with double triple or free nights through April none at Hyatt
    They seem like they are close to giving up and hurting themselves after losing to Marriott’s purchase of Starwood and yes even Marriott has a promotion
    Hyatt what gives?
    They are really sucking wind like no new year I can remember. I wont be voting for them again this year for any award nor staying as much.They have really blown it this time

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