Is This What Our Hobby Has Come To?

Yesterday the Hyatt Gold Passport system was showing award redemption prices in error for some hotels.

Take the Park Hyatt Chicago, which normally runs 25,000 points per night as a category 6 hotel. It was showing up at 35,000 points:

Now, 35,000 points isn’t even a thing in Gold Passport. The top price for a standard room is category 7, which is 30,000 points per night.

The same thing was showing up for the New York hotels, by the way.

When I clicked through to the property, the number of points required for the hotel didn’t even appear.

Reserving the room the price showed up as ‘confidential’.

I made the booking just to see what would happen, and 25,000 points were deducted. As it should have been. (I then cancelled and got my points back.)

If there was ever an obvious glitch, this is it.

And it wasn’t even a glitch that:

  • Overcharged anyone
  • Charged 0 points, allowing folks to book rooms at no cost

It was an error in how the points prices were showing.

Yet I received several emails and a few tweets from folks who were scared that this was foreshadowing… that it meant Hyatt was in the process of loading new, higher award rates.

I didn’t think so at all, Hyatt had just recently made its award chart changes for the year. Like any given change they’ve made or not (and I’m of course not a fan of the introduction of rewards category 7, or increased points prices for suite upgrades, that went into effect in 2014), we’ve been given notice of changes.

Even before the current Hyatt era — which probably dates to 2009 — we always got advance notice of award chart changes.

I shot Jeff Zidell, who runs the program, a quick email to confirm that there were no new plans to introduce higher award pricing, that this hadn’t just slipped out. And got a quick reply:

Absolutely not!

I get why someone would expect and fear that a glitch means something if that something is negative coming from Delta or Hilton. They’ve developed a reputation for devaluing and for making changes without bothering to clearly communicate those in advance to members. That hasn’t been Hyatt’s M.O.

Something that really works to our detriment as members is that the world at large doesn’t always differentiate between the value and reputation of the various loyalty programs. That creates a tragedy of the commons, there’s a tendency to devalue because people won’t differentiate the value propositions of programs anyway. Either they’re all bad so it doesn’t matter, or there’ll be little awareness of the devaluation, allowing a program to free ride on the value driven by other chains or airlines.

That’s why it’s important for those of us who do follow these things closely to pay attention to the program we’re dealing with, to their reputation, and then shout it from the rooftops.

This was never going to be a stealth devaluation. Program reputation does still matter, at least a little.

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, 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. Good news but I agree with you that Hyatt is a program with a great reputation that would not do a stealth devaluation.

  2. Yes, but I’m almost certain that the AA fares are a clear indicator that ~$500 is going to be the new standard business class fare to Asia on American.

  3. When I logged on now, it appears no cat 7s are in a list, but if you edit the URL to 8 or 9, then others show up.

    I’m hoping they’re being honest with you and saying it’s a screwup, but I’d like to know what’s going on with this glitch.

  4. Editing the URL to show Cat 8 and 9 indeed shows hotels in those categories. In particular the Maldives jumps to Cat 9 and is no longer listed in any of the lower categories.

    I think we need a better explanation than simply “Absolutely not!”

    IT doesn’t just go around making changes like this without direction from someone, even if it’s just a test.

    See for yourself:

  5. Charlie M is right. I’m sorry but I’m not so trusting of these travel lolyalty programs. They lie without batting an eyelash and point to their ‘terms and conditions’ that say that they can do what they wannt, when they want. If one hasn’t learned the last few years not to trust these programs, well then.

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