Last night Milepoint member chanp posted an email from his Private Line Representative saying that 43 hotels would be changing award categories on August 4 — 25 will require more points, and 18 will require fewer points.
So this is how it works…
If you currently have a reservation at a hotel that is going up in points, it will not change how you have booked it, even if your stay is after 8/4.
If you currently have a reservation at a hotel that is going down, and your stay is after 8/4, GP will be refunding you the difference in points.
If you need to change your dates, you will get the better option of the two, however anything changed after 9/3 (30 days later) will have to adhere to the new point chart.
We don’t know which hotels are going up and which are going down yet. Best strategy is, if you’re considering a reward booking, make it now. If the price goes down, you get points back. If the price goes up, you protect yourself against the increase. And for all properties that I know of except the Park Hyatt Maldives, the reservation is cancellable so consider making your booking speculatively (check cancellation rules, of course).
Within three hours of this posting, at about 11:30pm Eastern, Jeff Zidell the Vice President of Hyatt for the Gold Passport program posted that there would be changes coming to the Gold Passport program but they weren’t prepared to share them yet. These changes would be announced “this week and next.” The Private Line rep wasn’t supposed to email the members that that they are responsible for taking care of, apparently, I hope they don’t get in trouble for doing so.
(High value Gold Passport members can have a dedicated reservations representative assigned to them, a person they can call or email with for all of the reservation needs, to have someone follow up on missing points, to talk to a hotel for you for specific needs, etc. At least in the past Diamond members could request one, I don’t know if the program is still open to any Diamond member who asks.)
My pet peeve, perhaps more than anything else with loyalty programs, is changes without significant advance notice to members. Especially to elite benefits. Members spend a year earning status, making their decision based on benefits being offered by a program. After putting in the effort, the stays, nights, segments or butt-in-seat miles, the program says “sorry, just kidding, we’re actually giving you what’s behind door number 2.”
I’ve long wished for a year‘s notice of changes to elite programs, so members could make informed decisions about the benefits that make sense to them to shoot for. And at least several months’ notice for changes to award charts, so that members could ramp up their earning to reach their reward goals. Playing Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football, increasing reward chart requirements right as members are about to have enough points for a booking isn’t cool.
So what changes are coming to the program, besides re-categorizing certain properties? I don’t know. But:
- I expect a third-quarterish promotion to be announced.
Could they be adding a new, higher reward category? I’d hate to think so, it’s only been about a year since they increased point requirements across the board in advance of introducing a points-earning credit card. So I certainly hope it’s not wholesale increases or a new, higher category for their exceptional and exceptionally expensive properties like the Park Hyatts in Paris and the Maldives.
- Some sort of replacement for “G bonuses.” There used to be property-specific bonuses, a few thousand points per stay, and those were pulled after March 31. Jeff Zidell explained at the Randy Petersen Travel Executive Summit in April that the bonuses were a manual process, they frequently didn’t post, it angered members and created significant work to correct — so they needed to replace it. To me, those certainly sounded true and fair, but having no bonuses was certainly not better than having manual bonuses. Presumably some replacement will be coming.
- My pipedream? Confirmed suite upgrades used on award nights, not just on paid stays.
- Late checkout. Hyatt has been working on the late checkout benefit, trying to get properties to apply it more consistently. I’ve had my own problems getting it honored — as a Diamond at a hotel I’ve stayed at regularly and where I’ve had correspondence with the property’s General Manager even. Supposedly properties should honor early check-in if they have rooms, and late checkout isn’t supposed to be optional. But the benefit is unclear and isn’t applied consistently enough. A stronger, clearer, more forceful benefit would be great here. It’s one of the things that Starwood Preferred Guest does exceptionally well, even for Gold members.
What changes do you expect to Hyatt Gold Passport? What changes would you like to see?