World of Hyatt’s First Experiential Redemption Option is Now Live – and Why I’m Too Scared to Redeem

When Hyatt changed Gold Passport into World of Hyatt a month ago they unveiled a new TV commercial and announced that they’d be partnering on experiential rewards with AFAR Experiences.

In a sense they’re last to the party with his. Starwood’s SPG Moments was a pioneer and Marriott has largely copied it, and Hilton offers a similar program as well.

This is exactly the sort of non-travel option I like to see from a loyalty program. As I explained in The Craziest Things You Can Do With Your Miles, and Why You Don’t Want to Do Them travel redemptions are far better than getting your loyalty program to buy you ‘stuff’ because programs have to go out and buy the stuff, their costs to do it are high, and so you’ll always get a poor value for your points.

There are very few exceptions to using airline, hotel, and credit card loyalty points for something other than travel. Most of those exceptions come under the rubric of ‘life experiences’ — the idea that you can leverage the relationships of a big company to gain access to things you probably couldn’t do on your own.

Don’t use your points for a new LCD toaster. Do consider using your points (when it won’t break the bank) for an up close performance, with just a few other folks, by a world-renowned artist if that’s the kind of thing that interests you. Or go to the Oscars, because without the contacts your bank has when in the world would you ever get to otherwise?

Hyatt’s First Experiential Award is Now Available for Booking

Hyatt is live with their first experiential offering: AFAR EXPERIENCES TOKYO November 10-13, 2017.

Through this exclusive opportunity, you’ll get to dine with innovative chefs, discuss art with its curators, and learn from local experts who are engrained in the fabric of Tokyo.

Price options (not including airfare):

  • 200,000 points for one person including four nights at the Andaz Tokyo
  • 300,000 points for two people including four nights at the Andaz Tokyo
  • $3900 per ticket for the experience, not including hotel

The better value here is redeeming points if you have them (or transferring Chase points to Hyatt).

Booking isn’t instant. You fill out an online application, then hear back within 48 hours to complete the redemption.

You’d Better Book Now, But You Don’t Know What You’ll Get and If You Change Your Mind You’re On the Hook Big Time

There are 75 spots available. There’s no itinerary yet on the website. And cancellation charges are steep: $585 per person for cancellations prior to October 11; the full $3900 per person after October 11; plus the current rate for the Andaz Tokyo for cancellation within four days of expected arrival.

Still, it’s likely a fantastic event because there are certainly amazing experiences you can put together in such a wonderful city.

However one of the less-discussed downsides of the Hyatt program is that they charge you real cash, not points forfeiture, if you cancel an award inside the deadline for doing so. Starwood used to do this exclusively, now they allow you to substitute forfeiture of points. Most people assume that’s what happens, if you don’t meet a cancellation deadline you lose your points. But that’s not how Hyatt works, you get your points back and are charged real cash in an amount that hasn’t historically been well-disclosed in the booking path.

Hyatt’s Version of Experiential Rewards = Profit?

You can’t use your Gold Passport World of Hyatt points to go to the Oscars. You can use your points to buy experience packages from an existing package provider. So presumably — or at least if they’ve been reasonably savvy about it — Hyatt has entered into a marketing partnership that’s only tangentially related to the loyalty program.

  • AFAR gets to market to Hyatt’s member list

  • AFAR gets a new stream of customers who can also pay with points instead of just cash

  • Hyatt should be getting fees and/or commissions for the bookings.

AFAR sells packages, Hyatt provides the customers and a new payment mechanism.

AFAR Experiences Tokyo Award Terms and Conditions:

World of Hyatt Members in good standing may redeem their World of Hyatt Base Points for an AFAR Experiences Tokyo Award.

AFAR Experiences Tokyo Award is valid for a four (4) night stay at Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills beginning on November 10, 2017, with departure on November 14, 2017. Not valid at any other property or on any other date(s). Award Reservations are subject to availability and must be made in advance between April 1, 2017 and October 27, 2017 by calling toll-free 888.524.9288 or 402.593.6305, or contacting your nearest Global Contact Center.

Four (4) night minimum length of stay required. Members may redeem points in one of two increments for this Award: (i) 200,000 point Award is valid for single occupancy with standard room accommodations and includes one (1) AFAR Experiences Tokyo registration; or (ii) 300,000 point Award is valid for double occupancy with standard room accommodations and includes two (2) AFAR Experiences Tokyo registrations. Maximum double occupancy per room.

Limited number of rooms allocated to this Award offer and normal arrival/departure restrictions apply. Name on Award Reservation must match name assigned to AFAR Experiences Tokyo registration. When a Member makes an Award Reservation, the corresponding number of Base Points for the Award will be automatically deducted from Member’s account within approximately three (3) days of booking. A credit card guarantee is required when making the Award Reservation.

Award Reservations must be cancelled by October 11, 2017 to avoid hotel cancellation fees and AFAR Experiences registration fees. If a Member makes a cancellation, the Member’s credit card that was provided with the Award Reservation will be charged: (i) a 15% administration fee of $585 USD (single AFAR registration) or $1,170 USD (double AFAR registration) if cancelled on or before October 11, 2017, (ii) the entire registration fee of $3,900 USD (single AFAR registration) or $7,800 USD (double AFAR registration) if cancelled on or after October 12, 2017, and (iii) the then-current rate for four nights at Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills (“then-current rate” refers to the nightly rate being charged by the hotel on or within four days of November 10, 2017) if a Member does not check into the hotel when scheduled, and the Member’s AFAR Experiences Tokyo registration will be canceled.

In the event of cancellation, any corresponding points that have been deducted from the Member’s account will be returned to the account within approximately three (3) days of the cancellation. No credit will be issued for any portion of an Award that is not fully used. If a Member has an Award Reservation, checks in, and departs earlier than the confirmed checkout date, the Member forfeits any unused portion of the award and corresponding points. Award excludes applicable taxes, service or incidental charges and gratuity.

No World of Hyatt Base Points or Tier-Qualifying Nights will be awarded for these Award nights. Not redeemable for cash or other substitutions. Any unauthorized transfer, sale, distribution or reproduction of this Award constitutes fraud. Hyatt reserves the right to request a form of security deposit in advance for expenses not covered by this Award. Hyatt reserves the right to alter or withdraw this Award offer at any time without notice, where required, Hyatt will offer an alternative Award offer of similar value. Void where prohibited by law.

(Line breaks mine.)

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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