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Airlines have an easier time delivering consistent benefits than hotel chains do. Occasionally gate agents do not do their jobs correctly but for the most part airlines are able to follow their own rules for delivering elite benefits.
- Upgrades process automatically and in the correct order
- Access to premium seats happens for eligible elites
- Airport lounges admit the people that they should
Humans make mistakes, but those mistakes are less frequent than airlines perhaps because there’s a greater degree of automation but perhaps because the same company which promises the benefits is responsible for delivering them.
Hotel chains rarely own the hotels themselves any longer. And in some cases they do not even manage the hotels. There’s a set of benefits and expectations, and potentially the chain fines the individual hotel for not following guidelines. But there’s a much greater distance from the folks at corporate headquarters outlining what benefits should be and the employees on property (who may be responding to the preferences of a different ownership) responsible for delivering benefits.
- Are you really getting assigned the best room available at check-in?
- Are you entitled to late check-out?
- Does breakfast include the buffet, does it include tip, what about for members of your traveling party?
While some hotels have their inventory managed centrally, each hotel property (or sometimes group of properties) may manage the inventory themselves. So it’s no surprise that it can be like playing a game of whack-a-mole to get them to honor what programs.
- Some don’t want to make standard rooms available as awards, especially during peak times
- Others don’t want to deliver on upgrades, preferring to see only full price paying customers in the best rooms
Whether it’s the Hyatt Regency San Francisco, the Hyatt Regency Aruba, the Waldorf=Astoria Grand Wailea, or the Waldorf=Astoria Jerusalem sometimes it’s necessary to flag a property’s rogue behavior in order to get them to follow chain rules making award space available.
Unfortunately front line customer service doesn’t always give out accurate information. They may see what’s in their system, or hear what a hotel property is telling them, and assume that’s correct and offer well-meaning but wrong explanations to customers.
A reader wrote to me about the Andaz Papagayo, a hotel I stayed at last year and enjoyed very much. I booked a cash and points award there, and used one of my Globalist confirmed suite upgrades.
He told me that standard suites were available at the property for his dates, but Hyatt wouldn’t let him confirm an upgrade. I confirmed that a standard suite was, indeed, available for his dates.
This is the response he shared with me from Hyatt’s twitter team:
I am sorry. I am told by the hotel that they are not allowing suite upgrade awards during the dates from 22Dec. to 4Jan. Since your stay falls during these dates, we are not able to apply the suite upgrade award. As a Globalist, you are still eligible for an upgrade based on availability when you arrive so I have added this request to your reservation. -KS
The hotel wasn’t allowing confirmed suite upgrades to be used during the Christmas and New Year’s period. However that’s simply not how these benefits are supposed to work.
I checked in with Hyatt. They let me know this was wrong, and that it’s been corrected.
Appreciate the flag…it has been confirmed that this was a hotel error. There are no blackout dates for these confirmed suite upgrade awards. If the suite is available and the member has an eligible or redemption rate, then the hotel must honor the upgrade award. The issue has been raised to the hotel’s leadership team and the suite upgrade should now be bookable…
Hyatt has the absolute most generous suite upgrade benefit for its top tier elites of any major hotel chain.
- If a standard suite is available at check-in a Globalist member should be upgraded to that suite.
- 4 times per year Globalists can confirm a suite at booking, or at a minimum prior to check-in for a period of up to 7 nights if the hotel has a standard suite available.
- Globalists who stay 70, 80, 90, and 100 times per year can choose either 10,000 points or an additional confirmed suite upgrade at each of those levels.
The upgrade benefit is to suites. It is not optional for the hotel. And those suites can even be confirmed in advance. Marriott, Hilton, Accor and IHG Rewards Club do not match this.
However sometimes hotels do need reminding, and unfortunately front line customer service isn’t best-positioned to do the reminding. That’s true with all hotel chains, including Hyatt. I appreciate their very quick turnaround getting this one sorted, and I know that members appreciate it too.