The One Thing I Hate the Most About The New “World of Hyatt” Program

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.

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. I think the answer is pretty simple: you are your rate. These companies have run the numbers and determined that incentivizing marginal loyalty decisions isn’t as valuable as incentivizing booking directly through the company. Adapting to this reality, not complaining/wishing it would change, is really the only recourse.

  2. The time has long past where we should be thinking of these as ‘loyalty’ programs. My hyatt gold passport membership card is functionally equivalent to the punch card I have at the local diner. Stay 10 times and you maybe get something free or discounted, if we feel like it, terms and conditions apply.

    The ones building real ‘loyalty’ programs these days are the banks. My ultimate rewards account is far more valuable to me than my Hyatt passport. In fact, with the new sapphire reserve card I’ve been redeeming points for hyatt stays through ultimate rewards directly for fewer points than transferring to Hyatt. A room at the Royal Palms scottsdale is roughly 20,000 UR points but 25,000 hyatt points on their own site.

    They’re going to charge me a resort fee for things like parking and wifi access which really should be part of my platinum package. So why should I even bother with Hyatt’s own loyalty program when I can get a better deal AND better benefits booking through someone else’s? They haven’t burnt their bridge yet, but they’re doing a pretty good job trying to set it on fire.

  3. I’m a marginal Hyatt Diamond currently. I earn based on stays so the new program already isn’t friendly to me. And that’s fair, if Hyatt decides I’m not rewarding enough to grant top status then that’s their decision. But I think that Hyatt hasn’t vetted all the numbers well enough. If they really looked at me they’d see what I really cost the chain in terms of benefits granted. My business trips aren’t close enough to use full service Hyatt properties, I mainly stay at House and Place hotels, so limited benefits there. Once in the past year I stayed at a Centric property, was upgraded to the one suite in the place (lucky upgrade, lots of pestering from me) and used the full service breakfast for 4 over 3 days. The only other benefit I’ve used is the Diamond Amenity at check-in, minimal impact for my stays. For those limited uses I’ve pushed all of my hotel stays to Hyatt but will now reevaluate how I should book my business trips. If Hyatt had really looked at the usage of elite benefits compared to cost they would probably have seen more customers like me.

  4. The main thing I want them to keep is the “award booking/diamond status for guests” – if I book a room for a family member using points, they are greeted as a Diamond with any associated perks. This is a fantastic benefit and I hope they didn’t get rid of this (yet).

  5. Agree that Hyatt’s rate match is a scam. It did not used to be, but I now often see the same room cheaper online. There us always an excuse that it does not qualify.

  6. I would like to share that after achieving Hilton Diamond and Marriott Platinum over the past few years, I became disillusioned quickly. Upgrades have been nearly non-existent or good for maybe a higher floor room or a marginally better view room, but not the kind of upgrades worth hustling for status for. And those marginally better rooms were after asking (which the first answer is always no) then having to show them the available rooms on my phone, then asking do I have to cancel my reservation and just rebook on the site now to get this room? Maybe some folks are fine with that, but it makes me feel dirty. Then when I redeem points I can only book a standard room for the 50,000 points or so and if I want to reserve a suite with points, they want 200,000 points, so instead I have to book the standard room with points, hope I can get upgraded once we check in, then be disappointed because the answer is always no.

    So for the past year I have been completely ignoring the pursuit of status and just price shopping for the suites I want and I feel liberated. I’ve been told one too many times that the breakfast isn’t available because the lounge is closed for the weekend, or they can’t upgrade t a suite because none are available when they are selling them online on check in day, or that the hotel I am staying at is excluded from the rules for some made up reason. For me, hotel loyalty programs are dead.

  7. Loyalty? What’s that? It’s not a term that currently appears in the lexicon for airline and hotel companies. So why not book the property that provides the best value? I expect that most who read this column have point accounts with all the major programs.

  8. @Rob S, that is what I am talking about. The people that complain about Hyatt go and try to get a suite upgrade with Marriot or Hilton and let me know….(I almost can feel DCS coming hahaha)

  9. @Mark @Borax Yup I completely agree. These companies clearly don’t subscribe to Warren Buffet’s philosophy to go beyond satisfying your customer and instead strive to “delight your customer.” It bewilders me that the gigantic marketing efforts of these huge companies would go through all of the trouble to create these programs, and then let them evolve into this thing that makes their best customers gradually hate them more and more.

  10. I agree almost 100% with everything you wrote. “…programs destroy the goodwill they create when a loyal customer walks into a property and is treated less well because of the rate they book.” That is the reason that I am not loyal to SPG or Hilton. I have a choice, and will not spend more if I am merely a rate to a loyalty program. This is a poor move. And perhaps one why SPG and Hilton hand out status like candy. As u say there are many times when you have to book with third party sites, as won’t show all availability. Or you need to book package deals.

    I do disagree with your statement “… and indeed those who do qualify still for top elite will be treated even better than before.” If you look at the changes, the MUST DO is certainly less now then it used to be. No Must 2500 points for closed lounges, no MUST amenity or 1000 points, no MUST breakfast for 4 (however fortunately they do offer breakfast for the 2 adults and 2 children registered in a room) . The new improved benefits could very likely be up to the hotels discression and not be offered such as suites (how hotels call standard suites), free parking (again there could easily be ways around offering this too) So I could see for many Diamonds, the new elite may not necessarily be treated better than before as you say.

    But other then that argument, you make a great point, on really one of the biggest disappointing change coming up to the new Hyatt elite program.

  11. @Mark — You cannot be as clueless as you sound. What more evidence do you need? The only top elites that are left standing are HH Diamonds and MR Platinums. You go on pretending that HGP was anything other than what it’s revealed itself to be, but it was always the least rewarding and stingiest loyalty “program” of all, and it has just doubled down, You could also say the same about SPG, except that in this case, they are turning out the lights because the party is over…

    I’d repeatedly warned about drinking too much of travel bloggers’ kool-aid about those two programs going back two years and was ridiculed for it like you just tried to. However, I am having the last laugh. Look at where the two programs are now. SPG (r.i.p) is dead and HGP, well, it’s like, WOH! Meanwhile, I am on pace yet again to hauling in such a YUGE number of redeemable HH points, I’ll break my personal record of 1M HH points in a year I set last year, thanks to HHonors’ promos that have only grown more numerous and lucrative at a time when the bloggers’ preferred programs have either been so lifeless their pulse hardly registers or are already dead and just waiting to be buried.

    You asked for it and you got it…damned straight.


  12. DCS, the Lying Liar that Never Stops Lying. How fitting on Election Day given your brother-in-spirit Trump going down finally.

    If I was your NYC-based Ivy employer and read these posts, I’d question the quality of your work as lying seems to come so easy to you…wouldn’t make for a trustworthy employee.

  13. @UA-NYC — Calling me a liar and getting personal ain’t gonna change the facts, which I laid out clearly for anyone to challenge, and you did not. Fortunately, facts are immune to both your unhinged tactics and increasingly shrill and desperate pronouncements. You want to be credible? Then back up your looney tunes with some facts, or you’re simply cementing your “village idiot” status

  14. Fact number one moron – SPG (and its superior program, by far, relative to HH) isn’t “dead”
    no matter how many times you insist it is. It will continue on for 16 months at a minimum, and the new program may end up looking more like SPG than MR for all we know, especially if Marriott doesn’t want the SPG loyals to flee in droves.

    So STFU with your intellectual dishonesty until something actually happens.

  15. SPG is dead. Get it through your head. Anyone who would doubt such a self-evident and obvious fact is clueless and unhinged.

    And have you not yet learned about not using words like “intellectual dishonesty” that you are even more clueless about than you are about loyalty programs?

  16. LOL – “Intellectual dishonesty is a failure to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion”. Sounds like your never-ending pro-HH, anti-ever-other-loyalty-program “logic” exactly. Quite interesting actually coming from someone who calls himself a scientist

    And BTW your laundry-list of “facts” about Hilton (i.e., “no guaranteed late check-out time = unlimited ability to check out as late as you want!”) are about as thin as your educational background.

  17. And BTW bragging about “earning over 1 million HH points annually” (the most devalued hotel currency out there) is about as compelling a claim as being a Zimbabwean Dollar multi-trillionaire.

  18. They have also made it harder to status match with MLife, you can no longer do the status match online.
    My Platinum status from the CC, matched to MLIfe GOLD which allowed some VIP status like VIP check-in which in Vegas can be a big perk.

    After March 2107 Platinum’s are now downgraded to Pearl so wanted to make sure my MLife status continued through to Oct 2017 when it expires/

    You now have to either call Hyatt and provide both the MLIfe and Hyatt Passport numbers or email the numbers to MLife and wait 7-10 days for the status match to link again.

  19. @UA-NYC — You are really stooopid if you are still talking about the purported 2003 HH “devaluation” that was to supposed to “kill” the program. There is simply no way around the easily demonstrable fact that you are truly stupid: your own comments. Even AFTER that HH devaluation” SPG awards were still an order of magnitude more expensive, and it is SPG that’s now dead.

    You are too stupid to address. Have a good life. I am done with you and this one sticks. I hope you won’t be shaking all from withdrawal symptoms of bring ignored by DCS for eternity.

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