CONFIRMED: Full Details on Hyatt’s New Elite Status Program (A LOT More Than Previously Reported)

This morning I wrote about leaked changes to Hyatt’s new elite program that starts in March.

Most of the information was accurate but there’s a lot more here than previously reported. I spoke with Hyatt about the changes this morning and there’s more benefits and also information on the transition. (And another way to qualify for status, too.)

There’s even the long awaited opportunity for confirmed suite upgrades to be valid on award stays, as well as more free nights for all members.

Bottom-line is that there are real benefit improvements for folks staying 60 nights but that people who were qualifying on stays alone, or who aren’t able to get from 50 up to 60 nights with Hyatt — will see fewer benefits starting in 2018.

And with Hyatt’s foot print of around 600 hotels, versus 4000 or more for the global chains, it can be tough for many members to stay with Hyatt 60 nights. I don’t think I’d want to be a Diamond member based outside the U.S. for instance.


Roof top infinity pool at the Park Hyatt Chennai

Qualifying for Elite Status

As previously reported, Hyatt is introducing 3 elite tiers in place of the current 2 (and giving them rather silly names):

  • Discoverist: 10 nights, 25k base points ($5000 spend), or 3 meetings
  • Explorist: 30 nights, 50k base points ($10,000 spend), or 10 meetings
  • Globalist: 60 nights (but only 55 nights to requalify), 100k base points ($20,000 spend), or 20 meetings

Hyatt’s Jeff Zidell explains that they chose ‘active verb names for their tier status, reflecting the adventure of travel’ and ‘the reason why [their members] travel’. They wanted to “speak to the aspirations of members.”

In my view these names are un-serious as IHG’s new top tier ‘Spire Elite’ although certainly not worse than American’s new 75,000 mile tier ‘Platinum Pro’.

It seems that signing contracts for meeting rooms at a Hyatt Place in a developing country could be the new way to top tier now that qualifying on stays alone is out. Note that meetings, and not catered events, are what count here for status.


Sky lobby of the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

How Your Current Status Maps to the New Program

When the program launches in March, everyone that qualified as a Diamond in 2016 for the 2017 calendar year (anyone with Diamond through February 2018) gets full ‘Globalist’ benefits. So if you stayed 25 times or 50 nights in 2016, even though that wouldn’t be enough for the top tier in the new program you’ll still get top tier through February 2018.

Anyone who stays 50 nights in January and February 2017 becomes a Diamond under the old program and therefore is given Globalist status.

Anyone who was a Diamond in 2016 but didn’t requalify will be given Explorer status regardless of whether their activity qualified them for it.

Anyone who has Platinum status for 2017 gets at least Discoverist status.

However if your qualifying activity is enough for a higher tier, you’ll get that — so if you were a Platinum with 30 nights you’d receive Explorer status in the new program.

In other words, no one gets hurt in the transition year, your status will only fall in February 2018 which is more than a year away. That’s exactly how I wish all programs handled elite benefits changes.

What’s more, anyone with Globalist status in the new program will be given a free night on March 1 upon launch of the new program with no category cap (up to category 7). That’s a great way to get top tier elites excited about the new offerings.


Park Hyatt Dubai

More Suite Upgrades, Now Valid on Award Stays

The big change for top elites is that they aren’t just entitled to four confirmed suite upgrades each year.

  • They are entitled to suite upgrades if they do not use a confirmed upgrade instrument but there’s a suite available at check-in.

  • They can earn additional confirmed suite upgrades beyond the four they receive qualifying for status. At each of 70, 80, 90, and 100 nights they will receive a choice benefit of an additional confirmed suite upgrade or 10,000 points.

  • Confirmed suite upgrades will be valid on award nights and not just paid stays. (Everyone earning top tier, please let out a collective “Woo hoo!”)

At the beginning of 2016 Hyatt changed the way they awarded suite upgrades to Diamonds. They gave them at the start of the new elite year, but began requiring that they be used for stays only through the end of the elite year.

They will again award suite upgrades in March 2017. However going forward they will award suite upgrades when a member re-qualifies instead of making them wait until the new program year. Unfortunately suite upgrades, once awarded, will expire after 12 months.

Some ‘Globalists’ will want to put off requalification, booking away from Hyatt, as a result if they have a vacation they’re planning more than 12 months into the future. This may be mitigated somewhat though by the ability to earn extra suite upgrades for each additional 10 nights.


Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

Upgrade benefits in the new program are:

  • Discoverist: upgrade to best available room within type booked, which may mean a better view or higher floor.
  • Explorist: best available room excluding club floor and suites
  • Globalist: best available room up to standard suites

60 Nights Gets You an Ambassador

Hyatt is introducing My Hyatt Concierge as a Globalist benefit. A member will be assigned to a dedicated reservations agent to take care of Hyatt needs.

Here’s how Hyatt described the program when trialing it in 2014:

I’ve been a member of Hyatt’s Private Line program since around 2010, back when any Diamond member could be added to it if they knew to ask. (You could simply ping Hyatt’s social media representative on an online forum and they’d get you added.)

They closed that option several years ago. Fortunately they didn’t kick out those that were already in it.

I’ve been through several dedicated agents since I was added to the program. I’ve found some to be excellent and others to be awful (when I had an awful agent, I asked to switch and the request was always granted, I had heard through the grapevine of other frequent flyers which agents were good and made specific requests).

In general I’ve found the program to be useful:

  • I love being able to e-mail an agent for reservation requests (combining different rate types into a single reservation, querying whether cash and points rates are available) and confirmed suite upgrade requests instead of having to call for things that cannot be accomplished on the website.

  • The better agents have done followup work for me — perhaps award nights weren’t available when I asked but they kept checking and made bookings for me without further prompting when the space did open up. The same goes for suite uppgrades. I wouldn’t have to place new calls constantly, they would check and even reach out to hotels about non-standard room types.

  • I’ve even had agents proactively check for lower room rates, and re-book reservations for me.

  • I have someone to query when I have questions like an email address for a reservations manager at a property.

Some were less proactive than others. Some have consistently made mistakes with my reservations. And one – my first one – was simply non-responsive.

So we’ll see how the program works in practice.

Breakfast Benefit is Changing

Explorists – mid-tier elites – will get club lounge access 4 times a year up to 7 nights each stay. This will be valid on paid or award nights. It’s sort of the return of the ‘Platinum Extras’ certificate program.


View from the Club Lounge, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Top tier Globalist members will receive club access, and where there’s no club lounge available will receive restaurant breakfast for up to 2 adults and 2 children. This is a change from the previous ‘up to 4 registered guests’ in the room.

Unfortunately they are eliminating the 2500 point bonus given to Diamonds staying at a hotel with a club lounge where that lounge is closed.


Diamond Room Service Breakfast at the Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris

Annual Free Nights for Elites

Explorists and Globalists will receive a free night upon reaching the tier.

In 2017, a member hitting 30 nights (or qualifying based on spend or meetings) will receive a free night valid up to category 4. That night must be for stays within 120 days.

Then upon reaching Globalist status they’ll receive another free night, this time without a category limit, although again it must be consumed (not reserved) within 120 days.

The four month timeframe to actually stay on the free night will, I predict, limit Hyatt’s costs through breakage.


View from the Park Hyatt Sydney

Early Check-in, Late Check-out

Discoverists and Explorists keep the current 2pm guaranteed late checkout benefit (that doesn’t apply at resorts or casinos).

Globalists keep the current Diamond 4pm late check-out benefit.

Globalists also receive priority for early check-in. This is a new published benefit, but it’s not actually a change in practice. I learned in spring 2012 that hotels actually receive guidance to accommodate Diamond early check-in requests when possible, and that continues.

This isn’t like Intercontinental Royal Ambassador’s “guaranteed 8am check-in” or even Starwood’s “Your24” which confirms whether off-hours checkin will be possible in advance, unfortunately.

Parking, Resort Fees, and Water Oh My!

Hyatt already does not collect resort fees on reward nights. They’re extending that to paid nights for Globalist members as well.

Globalists will also receive free hotel parking on award stays (whenever parking can be put on the member’s folio) but not on cash and points or paid stays.

All elites will receive a bottle of water daily in all hotels, though properties may fulfill that in different ways — it may be available for pickup, for instance, rather than offered in-room.

Hyatt’s Guest of Honor benefit to gift elite status to friends or family when giving them an award stay continues, as does Hyatt’s sending out 2 United club passes each year to top tier elites.

MGM M life Rewards Benefits are Being Downgraded

M life’s resorts are mostly casino focused and mostly in Las Vegas. Until now Platinum status received M life Gold which is good for room upgrades, free self parking, priority check-in and restaurant reservations, and VIP Line Access for nightclubs and pool day clubs. Hyatt’s Diamond got M life Platinum which let you skip the valet and taxi queues.

It was somewhat awkward that Hyatt Platinum came with Hyatt’s credit card, and got M life Gold while M life’s new credit card came with lesser status.

I asked for and was given a chart that shows how the new elite tiers will map with MGM M life elite tiers.

World of Hyatt Membership Tier Reciprocal M life Rewards Membership Tier
Globalist Gold Membership
Explorist Gold Membership
Discoverist Pearl Membership
Membership Sapphire Membership
M life Rewards Membership Tier Reciprocal World of Hyatt Membership Tier
NOIR Membership Explorist
Platinum Membership Explorist
Gold Membership Explorist
Pearl Membership Discoverist
Sapphire Membership Membership

Hyatt’s Credit Card Will No Longer Help Towards Top Tier Elite Status

I was sort of counting on spending $40,000 on my credit card for 10 elite nights now that it’s going to take 10 more nights to earn top tier status. That benefit is going away.

Instead, I’m told that:

  • The card will come with Discoverist status (the ‘lower’ Platinum tier).

  • $50,000 in spend on the card each calendar year will earn Explorist status through the following year.

  • There’s a benefit for existing cardmembers and those who sign up before March 1, though: those who become cardmembers by March 1 will receive an additional 5% bonus on base points earned for in-hotel spend with Hyatt and MGM M life Resorts through February 28, 2018 — but this benefit goes away for Explorist and Globalist members whose in-hotel earn bonus is higher already.

No More Check-in Amenity and No More Guaranteed Turndown Service

The program will no longer offer a food and beverage amenity or 1000 points for top tier elites.

And the nightly turndown service that Hyatt introduced 5 years ago for Diamonds, even in hotels that don’t otherwise offer it, is being ended.

So Globalists will have a real answer to the question, “Turn down for what?”

Lifetime Elite Status Qualification is Changing

Hyatt will announce changes to lifetime elite status qualification on March 1. Existing Lifetime Diamond members will receive Lifetime Globalist status.

Currently it takes $200,000 in spend (1 million base points) and 10 years in the program to earn lifetime Diamond. They aren’t telling us what the changes are, but I expect some form of lifetime status to be easier to achieve, though since Globalist is harder to achieve I wonder whether lifetime Globalist will be as well.

Sadly I won’t hit lifetime Diamond before then. If you’re close, you might want to push on the accelerator. And if you just miss it, and they do move the goal posts, I’d make a personal appeal.

An Updated Benefits Chart

Qualification MEMBER DISCOVERIST EXPLORIST GLOBALIST
Nights Required, or 0 10 30 60 (55 to re-qualify)
Based Points Required, or 0 25000 50000 100000
Meetings 0 3 10 20
Benefits
Point Bonus 0 10% 20% 30%
No Resort Fee On Award Nights On Award Nights On Award Nights On Award Nights & Eligible Paid Rates
Upgrade at Check-in N/A Best Room in Category Reserved (higher floor, better view) Best Room Excluding Club, Suites Best Room Including Standard Suites
Confirmed Suite Upgrades N/A N/A N/A Up to 8: 4 on qualifying + choice of 1 or 10k points at 70/80/90/100 nights
Free Night on Qualifying N/A N/A Cat 1-4, Travel Within 120 Days Cat 1-7, Travel Within 120 Days
Lounge Access N/A N/A Confirmed 4 Times Annually, Up to 7 Nights Each Yes
Breakfast N/A N/A N/A When no club lounge, up to 2 adults and 2 children
Complimentary Parking on Award Nights (Not Cash/Points) N/A N/A N/A Yes
Dedicated My Hyatt Concierge Reservation Agent N/A N/A N/A Yes
Guest of Honor Benefit Gifting Award Stays N/A N/A N/A Yes
Two annual United Club passes N/A N/A N/A Yes
Late check-out N/A 2pm 2pm 4pm
Priority Early Check-in N/A N/A N/A Yes
Guaranteed Room Availability N/A N/A 72 hours 48 hours
Free Daily Bottle of Water N/A Yes Yes Yes

A New Opportunity for Everyone to Earn Free Nights

Hyatt will give a free night (category 1 through 4, valid for a year) after trying 5 different brands.

They’ll give a second free night when you hit your 10th brand. There’s no time limit for reaching these milestones. As long as the benefit remains you’ll receive a free night even if it takes you several years to hit the goal. Historical stays don’t count, though, they’ll track your activity March 1 onward.

What it All Means

Hyatt shared a video promoting the launch of their new program, which is sort of just people doing things and I guess Hyatt wants to be a part of that.

Hyatt’s new top tier elite tier great with more suite upgrades, upgrades without using confirmed instruments, more free nights, and a dedicated concierge.

It’s those marginal Diamonds making just 25 stays or who given Hyatt’s limited footprint can’t stretch beyond 50 nights that lose out.

Unlike airlines, who have been revamping their programs supposedly with their best customers in mind but who are really just devaluing for those customers less than everyone else, Hyatt is genuinely doing more for their most frequent customers here.

The loss is wallet share from leisure travelers who went out of their way to stay with Hyatt because of the Gold Passport program, and elites ‘on the bubble’. And I don’t love their taking away the 2500 point bonus for closed club lounges and getting a bit chintzier on breakfast (no more inviting all your friends at the Hyatt Olive 8).

So it’s a net positive for the road warrior with the option to focus on Hyatt. I’ve long said that they need to continually up their game to woo these customers. It takes work to stay loyal to Hyatt, while everyone can merely stumble into a Marriott or a Hilton if they wish.

And with Marriott Rewards getting better and Hilton considering a new top tier this is a pretty aggressive move to satisfy top members even at the expense of some in the middle.

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. […] Although I had been to Paris many times before, I have usually stayed with friends and have not opted for a posh luxury hotel near Opera. I called down to the concierge and organized a ride to Versailles because I was tired and couldn’t be bothered with the RER metro. But to be economical, I hitched a ride with a tour group that was already heading in that direction: it was called an “unguided” tour. The staff and service was truly something to write home about. I would stay at this hotel again in a heartbeat and without hesitation–but the pricetag should always give sane people a moment of pause. Most bloggers view the cash & points option for Category 7 (15,000 points and $300 copay) hotels stacked with a diamond suite upgrade as the best value for this hotel. However, for those few diamond, I mean globalist, members who survive the great culling of 2016, award nights will now be eligible to stack diamond suite upgrades starting March 1, 2016 when Hyatt Gold Passport ceases to exist and the World of Hyatt loyalty program takes effect. […]

Comments

  1. Explorist, Discoverist and Globalist are “active verb” names? Really? Actually these names are weak and lack plain meaning. The roots of Explorist and Discoverist are at least verbs. although addind ist to the verb is incredibly confusing. The root of Globalist is a noun not a verb. Naming the top tier Globalist runs contra to the anti globalization mood of the country and the world.

    It would be fascinating if we could be flies on the wall in the meeting where someone came up with these names and the others said “Brilliant.”

    Absurd names like that make me question the reasoning behind the rest of the program.

  2. Suite upgrades on award nights? Awesome.

    Four months to use the free nights? So I hit 55 nights late-ish in the year, like September-December and I have to use that Cat 1-7 night between Sept and the end of the year. Ish? Meh. Like you say, *breakage*. Even if I could come up with a trip to use a free night on within that kind of time-frame, the idea that there would be a suite left with four months notice? Not at the places I want to use them at…

    No more free food or wine at check-in? Crap. One of my favorite benefits actually.

    Qualifying on points? At 100,000 base points you’d have to spend more than $333 per night to earn before 60 nights, and > $363 per night to earn before 55. Probably not normal prices for most people on corporate rates I’d think.

  3. So it very much looks like most of the Globalist benefit improvements over Diamond are lip service. “Best available room including Suite” is pointless as we already more often than not DON’T get upgraded to the best-available non-suite room. As soon as you leave this up to the property they will ignore it. I doubt I will see any more at-check-in suite upgrades in the new program than in the old, regardless of availability.

  4. With all of 27 (?) hotels in Europe – all usually in the >$200 a night category – it’s going to be quite difficult to get 60 nights in.
    The new changes are a real kick in the nuts for European based members if you ask me.

  5. Downgrade for Hyatt Credit Card holders. Probably going to re-consider staying with the brand. Especially since Marriott and Hilton programs offer a wider range of benefits with more chains of hotels.

  6. I did the Diamond status match and really enjoyed it. I did not use any of my DSUs, either, as I’m typically at either a Place or House. But because of the status match I swung my nights to Hyatt and was working to find a way to hit 25 stays. There’s no way I can hit 60 nights so it makes no sense for me to stay with Hyatt. Not to mention that many of my stays were inconvenient due to hotel locations. I’m excited to try SPG in 2017 now.

  7. So am I understanding correctly that we can now cc spend our way to Hyatt status? if I choose to put $100K spend on my Hyatt credit card via any type of spend that I would get top-tier Hyatt status for that calendar year and the full following year, along with the applicable free award night?

  8. So does this mean that anyone who has a Hyatt CC will get a free night cert from the CC yearly in addition to the Discoverist free night?

  9. Still haven’t seen the answer to what is a qualified night. I book a non-profit group every year and book somewhere near 150 room nights. Is this now a qualifier or will I no longer go out of my way to try and book at a Hyatt? I am not a paid travel agent, just a committee chairperson with decision making responsibilities regarding where we stay.

  10. Hi Gary,

    You write “Anyone who stays 50 nights in January and February 2017 becomes a Diamond under the old program and therefore is given Globalist status.” So just to be sure, if I have 25 stays Jan to Feb 2017, I will be given Globalist status through end of Feb 2019? Thanks.

  11. @Angie — I asked @HyattConcierge on Twitter this morning. They asked me to DM them and since only radio silence. Not sure why they would ask to go private — surely this isn’t some kind of “secret”?

    Purely speculation on my part but I am guessing 25/50 in Jan/Feb 2017 will **NOT** extend status to 2019…

  12. Wow. That sucks. I barely make 50 nights / year, because all my travel is recreational, and it’s hard to take that many days off per year. Or, “marginal diamond”, as it’s put in this article.

    Oh hey, a couple competitors with a better footprint offer free breakfast every day:
    * With just a credit card @ $95: Hilton Gold
    * With a credit card @ $450 + $10k spend per year: Marriott Gold

    I guess they have too many customers.

  13. @GaryLeff

    Very nice writeup. You noted a bunch of things that I missed on the official site.

    A small error in your chart: Guaranteed room availability for Explorist is 72h, and Globalist is 48h (you have it reversed).

    Also, have you heard if meetings/events can be combined with qualifying nights/base points? Or are they being kept completely separate?

  14. @Andrew
    My wife loved Hyatt as a 25 stay diamond status member. Now she feels swept under the rug. So buh-bye. We have some great memories though (Vienna, Aruba, Curacao).
    I passed along the Hilton $95 annual fee, gold status w/ free breakfast tip. Is that at most of their properties?

  15. Well it’s here that I get off the Hyatt train….I am a Diamond since 2006, and it did take work to get 25 stays as there were not always Hyatts available… so I averaged about 50 nights and I am not going to work harder to get to 60. The change on the Bfest, reduced points on corporate stays, loss of bonus points just don’t make me feel appreciated. So on the surface they may say “so what he was a marginal Diamond only qualifying on 25 stays”.What they will miss is all the nights I brought other colleagues with me. In fact I just came back rom the Grand Hyatt in Seattle where I booked 33 rooms and two suites at full price for a week, plus booking a meeting room and a reception for 50 people for an additional 5k. All told over 50k spent that I only received 1 stay for…I am sure Marriott will appreciate that because I do it every year! Maybe I don’t stay 60 nights myself but i am responsible 100’s. So as an unworthy marginal diamond, under the new program I wouldn’t even always qualify for bfest… Well then they can keep it and I will take my business across the street and the dozens and dozens of rooms of my colleagues bookings that I don’t get credit for ( because I choose the locations for my team) and the tens of thousands of dollars I control…and I hope every other Diamond does the same! Hello Marriott my old friend!

  16. Hmm… M Life Gold -> Hyatt Explorist seems lopsided, and probably how I will now do my Hyatt qualification for the near future. Explorist requires $10k spend, M Life Gold only requires $3k spend at MGM properties. Less if you do any amount of gambling. I’m currently M Life Platinum (matched from Hyatt Diamond in early 2015 before that expired after completing the Diamond Challenge in 2013) through 9/2017, so I can probably match that back to Explorist for next year, at least.

  17. “Anyone who was a Diamond in 2016 but didn’t requalify will be given Explorer status regardless of whether their activity qualified them for it.”

    I was a Diamond until Feb 2016. Since then, Platinum. Will I be given Explorist or Discoverist status next March? Thank you!

  18. For those that qualify for Globalist in 3/2017, will the free night (no rate cat) be given on 3/1? and expire 120 days after 3/1?

    Thank you!

  19. I am with Scott (above). Now I know I have been a minimalist Diamond for OVER 20 years. And not even a “so long, it was nice knowing’ ya” I get to start over to earn Globalist (try saying that three times!)….and IF I do that for a year, then they will reduce the requirement to only 55 nights. They should at the very least, give long-time Diamonds the reduced requirement as a continuation. And this no welcome amenity is an insult. Especially since they are closing the club lounges….. slowly but surely. SPG is much better at this point.
    I don’t know if anyone at Hyatt is looking at this dumb decision….the re-branding is seriously dumb and for no apparent reason, other than someone was likely hired and had to prove their worth. Hyatt needs to re-think this whole mess.

  20. . I feel they ruined the category situation. I’m from California Southern California I noticed they took away category 1 and Category 2 from the California option to stay for free. The only place you can stay is a category 3 which uses up more of your points. I used to go down to San Diego a lot and I could stay at a category 1 or Category 2 but no more. No where in California can you stay at Aquatica one or category to like you used to be able to. What good is it for me a California to benefit from this.

  21. Another unfortunate thing…no longer does mere possession of the card mean comp parking at MGM Vegas locations. As a Los Angeles resident this was a key reason for me to keep the card. I know that may sound silly to some, but in a time when the Vegas properties are starting to nickel and dime, this small token benefit made a big difference in travel plans. I’m very disappointed Hyatt is making this decision….

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