Hyatt Introduces Earn and Burn for Experiences. But Only For 3.5 Months?

Starwood and Marriott have Moments. Marriott doubled down on experiences by investing in PlacePass. IHG Rewards Club has auctions and so does Hilton.

United has Exclusives and Chase has Experiences while Citi has PrivatePass.

Hyatt hasn’t offered experiential rewards until now. They’ve just started to dip their toe in though, with a limited-time tie-up. Through January 31, 2018 you can earn and redeem Hyatt points with IfOnly.com.

These Travel-worthy Experiences, located across several destinations in the U.S. and Europe, are carefully curated by IfOnly to “wow” and be memorable, and are another key step in Hyatt’s strategy to engage with high-end travelers in more ways beyond traditional hotel stays.

Book a private helicopter tour of Chicago, paired with dinner at an iconic Italian Restaurant; an afternoon with a zookeeper for behind-the-scenes access at the San Francisco Zoo; or backstage passes to the Broadway play Kinky Boots to meet the star of the show, in New York City.


World of Hyatt Culinary Event.. a First Experiential Offer But Not Through IfOnly.com

Here’s what they’re offering:

  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on experiences
  • Or pay with points instead of cash

These are the program terms and the program FAQ.

Since I value Hyatt points at 1.4 cents apiece they’re giving you a 4.2% rebate on buying experiences for cash.

You can spend points instead of cash for experiences but apparently at a value of just 4/5ths of a cent per point. In other words, don’t do this. Use points to pay for hotels and save the cash you’d spend. Use points to pay for hotels for other people and save the cash they’d spend. Save the cash, buy the experiences and earn more points (or buy your own experiences somewhere else, or just put the cash into savings).

To be sure, this isn’t a worse redemption rate than you get using points to cover spa or restaurant charges in a hotel. But you shouldn’t do that either.

To be clear some of the experiences on sale are very cool though. For example,

  • Dine in the kitchen at Chez Panisse
  • Photography lessons from a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer
  • Meet the host of “Dancing with the Stars” at the show’s season finale
  • Private training session for Jillian Michaels (proceeds benefit ACLU of Southern California)

As I write this there appear to be only 10 ‘Travelworthy’ experiences that are linked to the Hyatt partnership and where you can spend Hyatt points, at least the other 2800 packages on the site don’t appear to display prices in points.

Here’s where Hyatt fails.

  • What other travel providers and banks have done is leveraged their relationships to provide access to experiences that you frequently couldn’t really buy yourself. Sometimes they go for plenty of points, but they’re once in a lifetime kinds of things and worth it. Or they go as auctions cheap because there aren’t that many bidders. Either way they’re driving exceptional value.

  • IfOnly.com is a pre-existing platform where you can spend money for experiences. These aren’t things ‘money can’t buy’ they’re explicitly things money can buy. Each one has a price.

  • Hyatt is renting someone else’s experiences platform on the one hand (use your points to pay the cash price for the experiences they sell) and getting paid for driving business to that site (some of which gets rebated to customers in the form of points).

In other words, Hyatt has managed to turn an emphasis on experiences into something entirely transactional. They’re only offering it temporarily. And it’s not super high value, either.

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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Comments

  1. Slightly off-topic, but I’ll likely fall just short of the ridiculous 60 night requirement to requalify for Globalist status. That will be the end of my loyalty and I’ll use up my 500k points and be done with them.

    But yesterday really sealed the deal. I tried to use my free night award for a last minute death in family stay. But the certificate would expire ONE DAY too soon. Nobody with any common sense would step in on behalf of one of their most loyal customers to waive the rule for a day. “I’m sorry sir but the rules are the rules…”

    Done with these boneheads – they’ve destroyed what was a great program.

    Ron

  2. You can get about 10,000 Hyatt points if not able to use. Call back and get someone competent to help you.

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