Hyatt Awarding ‘Secret’ Free Nights as Part of New World of Hyatt Program

Hyatt’s new program offers a free night:

  • Category 1 – 4 after staying 30 nights during the year

  • Category 1 – 7 after staying 60 nights during the year

Crucially, these free nights do not count towards elite status (so I hate using them!) and more importantly expire after 120 days. You don’t merely have to make a booking within that time. Your stay has to occur within 120 days of earning the night.

Hyatt says that the program is all about you and understanding your needs. They’re telling you that you need to stay within 120 days, regardless of your work schedule or your kids’ school.

I hit 30 nights for the year over a week ago.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the threshold, until I noticed in my AwardWallet account that there was a free night deposited.

Though the free night has been there, and the clock is ticking on expiration, Hyatt didn’t tell me about it. They’re keeping it a secret.

I know you’re never supposed to “ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence” — and Hyatt certainly isn’t known for its IT — yet this is beyond frustrating. Hyatt claims the short expiration isn’t about breakage, a hope you won’t use the free night. But then they award it without telling you about it, it’s a secret free night, meaning that expiration is even closer than the terms suggest.

Jeff Zidell says that they want to celebrate the achievement, so have you use your free night close to when the achievement happens. But the 120 day expiration also has the effect not only of making it impossible for some members to use, but also of having other members suboptimally use it — since you’ve got to use it quickly, you’re more likely to use it at a cheaper property than if you had saved the night to deploy on the most advantageous stay.

Now I don’t actually think that keeping their awarding of the free night a secret is intentional. For instance, my 30th night was earned at the recently re-branded Hyatt Centric Arlington. Hyatt awards free nights for stays across multiple brands, and they’re still treating it as a ‘Hyatt’ rather than a ‘Centric’ (and so when they finally fix this, and I stay at the property again, it will likely count as a second brand — making it easier for me to earn the free night).

Hyatt Centric Arlington

Credits as a Hyatt Not a Centric

However not telling members about the free night has the effect of increasing breakage, reducing optimal use, and lowering costs. And reducing costs is a huge component of the World of Hyatt program.

It wouldn’t be a problem not to tell members about awarding them a free night for a couple of weeks if it expired after a year. But if they’re going to expire free nights if not used for travel within 120 days they darned well need to tell members immediately when one has been credited to an account.

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. Did the Globalist mileage run in Jan/Feb. Earnestly regretting it, mainly because of the opaqueness of all this.

  2. Finally a value added post. It’s been a while. I guess there weren’t any captivating “airplane lands at wrong airport” stories this morning.

  3. I forgot about the 30 night award altogether and found out about my free night exactly the same way. I will say that I was glad to see they counted nights prior to March 1st.

  4. How many years ago had we suggested that there be a small point redemption option for unused suite upgrades, so that at least you don’t feel like a loser after achieving a threshold? Same logic (or lack thereof ) applies here.

  5. Did he really actually say the reason for the 120 day period was to celebrate your achievement? I know we’re all getting accustomed to marketing bullshit. But that is so insulting. You just can’t treat customers like idiots.

  6. Who do you think rebelled at the high cost structure imposed by the long list of Diamonds in GP? Was it hotel properties (influential ones) or was it corporate bean counters?

  7. Sadly they have already lost me. Jeff Z and his bonhomie, continue to insult my intelligence with nonsensical corporate bs like “we want you to celebrate the achievement “. Just be up front and say you have 120 days to use it, the idea isn’t to bank a bunch of free cat 1-4 nights.

  8. I knew there was a problem with WOH when I heard Steve Bannon called Jared Kushner a “globalist.”

  9. That’s really odd. The free night I got for being a Diamond at the time of changeover to the new program got me a free night that appears to be good for a year. Why would Hyatt create two different award expirations for their elites? WoH really needs to be cleaned up, and by some “new blood.”

  10. Gary, I was speaking with a Hyatt representative this past week and lamenting the fact that these free nights had such a short expiration period. We were also discussing the free night awarded after staying at five of the different brands. During this conversation she indicated that members would have the option to keep the night OR accept points in lieu of the free night. She indicated this was a new feature and that it was supposed to appear on the email alerting you to the award of the free night. I’m not sure if perhaps she meant this only applied to the night awarded for the staying at the five different brands. So far I haven’t seen this happen to others and certainly not to you. Could you reach out to Hyatt and see if this is in fact correct? The person i spoke to seemed to be someone who had been there a while and fairly knowledgeable.

  11. I reached 30 nights 7 days ago still haven’t received award yet and no 1 can tell me y not I’m at 32 nights

  12. @Joseph N – the free night you got for 1-7 at time of WOH change over is good for a year. Moving forward, each new certificate you earn is only good for 120 days. And quite sadly for me, that is the main reason (along with check in points being gone) that I have decided to move on after 4 years of diamond status. That is a real kick in the nuts for me since I travel a lot for work and personal, and I’m not going to go out of my way to try and earn the free nights at a strategic time so that I can hopefully use them within 120 days, which in most cases I wouldn’t… Hyatt pushed away an 80 night last year guy.

  13. I just tried to use the new certificate at a Mlife hotel and found out you can’t use it there. WTH??? Yes

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