Elimination of the ‘stay’ method of qualifying for Hyatt Diamond status has ruffled a lot of guest feathers, there will be many people who lose status because they can’t meet the new criteria for top elite status with Hyatt under changes going into effect next year.
That’s not the feature of the new program I dislike the most, and indeed those who do qualify still for top elite will be treated even better than before.
I’ve always said that a program decides who they consider to be a customer they want to reward, but once they do they should provide those rewards consistently every time they interact with that customer. And that’s going to change.
Hyatt Currently Honors Elite Benefits Even on Third Party Bookings — That Ends March 1
Hyatt and Marriott have long stood apart for their treatment of guests regardless of how you booked your room.
In order to earn credit for elite status and earn points you have to book an ‘eligible rate’ which means anything booked through Hyatt directly, or through certain third parties like American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts or Visa Signature Hotels.
But even if you booked through a third party, if you were an elite guest you’d be well-treated whenever you walked into one of their hotels. Elite benefits would apply even on Priceline stays. Because you had become an important customers. Not your rate.
Hyatt’s new World of Hyatt program launching March 1 changes that. Per the terms and conditions:
In-hotel Benefits are provided only where, for the applicable night, the elite Member (a) has paid an Eligible Rate or (b) has redeemed a Free Night Award, Room Upgrade Award, or Points + Cash Award. In the event that an elite Member is staying under an Ineligible Rate (other than as part of redeeming a Free Night Award), (s)he will not be provided any In-hotel Benefits for that stay.
This makes the list of 5 things Frequent Miler hates about the new program as well.
Park Hyatt Dubai
Sometimes a Top Elite Has to Book an ‘Ineligible Rate’ — Because They’re a Loyal Customer
Hyatt has made it harder to qualify for status — spending 60 nights for top tier instead of as few as 25 nights (by eliminating the ‘stay’ method of qualifying) or spending $20,000 a year. And once someone has done that, whether or not they matter on a given stay depends on how they book it.
Sometimes third party sites are the only way to book the Hyatt hotel you want to stay at, and you’re going out of your way to make that booking because you’re loyal to Hyatt. And sometimes those third party sites have cheaper rates, and Hyatt won’t match their prices despite marketing promises to the contrary.
Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee is, in my opinion, bogus.
- If you find a better rate on another website for a basic room type that doesn’t show available on Hyatt’s website, Hyatt won’t match the rate. You want to stay at Hyatt, and you book through a third party because they’re the one offering the room while Hyatt shows sold out, no benefits.
- If the price offered by another website is lower and includes extras that the Hyatt rate doesn’t (breakfast, late checkout, even things you get anyway as a top elite) then they won’t match because the rates aren’t for ‘the same thing’. Never mind that the third party rate offering more is lower.
- Some sites they match against and others they don’t. Other than reading recent reports from other travelers, there’s not a clear way to know ex ante which sites will fly and which won’t, it’s not just a function of whether the website requires (free) ‘membership’.
- And if the third party rate is prepaid, you now have to book a prepaid rate on Hyatt’s site first to even ask them to match the lower rate. And if the don’t match the lower rate, you’re stuck paying Hyatt’s more expensive price. You’re completely at Hyatt’s mercey.
The best rate guarantee isn’t actually a promise you’ll get the best rate, it’s a marketing gimmick to make you think you’ll get the best rate through Hyatt and therefore not shop around elsewhere in the first place to learn about better prices.
Diamond Room Service Breakfast at the Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris
Treating Elites Poorly on a Given Stay Based on Where They Booked Their Room Isn’t Loyalty
The best expression of what’s wrong with denying benefits to elites who have earned their status but are staying on ‘ineligible rates’ came from Flyertalk member PremEx in 2003, when Starwood announced that they would no longer honor elite benefits when booking stays through third party websites like Expedia.
Welcome to the Starwood Preferred Rate® Program. You are no longer a Preferred Guest.
Forget about the 25 or 50 or 75 stays you had on normal rates, that earned you Platinum. Walk in the door on Jan 1, 2004 on an occasional Priceline or other third party booking…and magically and mystically you’ve somehow become a Non-Preferred Guest!
And now that that fundamental change in the program has kicked-off and that wall has been shattered to pieces, where will it end?
Only property elite benefits when staying on Rack Rates? That also would certainly improve elite benefits too…on only those times that you were staying on Rack Rates!
Slippery slope, my friend.
I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be a Preferred Guest. As long as I’m at a Starwood property, I prefer and expect to get the recognition I earned. And I earned that status all on qualifying rates.
Because I’m a Platinum Preferred Guest. I am not my rate.
Programs destroy the goodwill they create when a loyal member walks into a property and is treated less well because of how they booked their stay. They no longer feel like an honored guest. Either the person is important to the chain or they aren’t.