Hyatt changed their loyalty program, Gold Passport to World of Hyatt, increasing their requirements for Globalists (top-tier elites) as much as 140%. They went too far and now their actions demonstrate that they know it. But is it a case of too little, too late?
First Instance: Hyatt Relents on Globalist Requirements
There was a great amount of confusion when Hyatt Gold Passport changed their program to World of Hyatt and introduced new elite tiers and requirements. Soon after the announcement, there were a series of conditional exceptions by which a guest could qualify for Globalist status after uproar from elites. I detailed those here, but suffice to say they relented from a hard and fast rule to five exceptions all but one of which honored their prior obligations. They have gone further since, which I will discuss below.
Second Instance: Offering Abbreviated Challenges
Last year, many elites that struggled to achieve 60 nights to receive their upgrades or 55 to maintain status bristled when Hyatt offered a Globalist challenge requiring just 20 nights over a 90-day period (standard for status challenges across the industry). Previously, Hyatt had offered 12 nights in a 60-day period so while the challenge required more nights on average for the period it wasn’t wildly far off from what they had done before. The problem was that the Hyatt had taken such a hardline stance on what would qualify that letting outsiders in for 1/3rd of the qualification terms in the same year that loyal customers were told to pay up or beat it – didn’t sit well.
If Hyatt had too many top-tier elites under the previous terms and the goal was to limit some guests while pushing others to stay just a little more every year with the brand, then you shouldn’t need to get new elites in the program.
Third Instance: Award Nights Count
This year Hyatt added a new feature, award nights count toward earning status. This wasn’t the case before (points plus cash stays counted, full point redemption didn’t). It shows that they know not only that their program lacked a key feature of most competitors but also that there were too few elites that would have re-qualified without their vacation award nights in the mix.
Fourth Instance: Double Elite Credit For Andaz Stays
Last week Hyatt announced that in July and August all stays at Andaz properties (think W hotel sass but a little classier) would earn double elite-qualifying nights. I suggested this would happen in some form during the year as elites continue to fall away and commit to other brands who didn’t increase their requirements by 140%. (Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond guests could qualify at 25 stays or 50 nights in the old program, the new program requires 60 nights to qualify for the same status now called Globalist.) Take for example Hilton, their Diamond level (comparable) requires 30 stays or 60 nights but has a footprint more than 700% larger than Hyatt’s.
Andaz has very few properties within the Hyatt brand, just 18 to be exact, two of which are in Manhattan and one of which is not yet open. If not traveling to New York City there are just 15 open hotels – in the world – in which you can earn double elite stays. When I predicted that they would lower the requirements for earning by offering double elite credit nights, I had assumed they would make an effort in earnest. This promotion, while a beggar can’t be a chooser, is not a legitimate option for most travelers. Have plans to travel to the Hawaiian islands? You have one choice. Want to try out Andaz on a business trip to Hyatt’s hometown of Chicago – nope. In true business markets, just NYC offers a realistic option, even LA has a just a single hotel in West Hollywood which is not likely a place business people will have meetings.
Nonetheless, the promotion, while useless for most, achieves yet another way for some to reduce their requirement to Globalist status from a level clearly out of reach for most.
Fifth Instance: Credit Card Elite Night Earning
In perhaps what is Hyatt’s most ambitious promotion targeted at reducing the requirements for their elites, their new credit card (we don’t sell them, we don’t pitch them) they allow cardholders to reduce their requirements by five nights just for having the card. A re-qualifying Globalist reduces their requirement from 60 to 50 nights (55 is the requirement for re-qualification, 60 for new entrants) with the five-night reduction. Is it a coincidence that the old requirement was 50 nights (though stay qualification remains elusive) and the new requirement for returning Globalists with the credit card is back to 50 nights? This writer doesn’t think so. Rather, this is a clear admission that their new requirements were met with less business, not more.
The credit card also allows guests to buy their way to status, $5,000 charged to the card at a time. Each time the cardholder crosses $5,000 spent, two more elite-qualifying nights are earned further reducing the requirement. While this isn’t a bad way to hit status at a lower level, I am not personally interested in moving the majority of my spend from earning 1-3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar to a single Hyatt point. For example, if all of my spend on my Chase Sapphire Reserve was either dining or travel (most of it is) I would earn 15,000 UR points which I could transfer to a handful of airlines or directly to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio or 15,000 points. With Hyatt’s credit card I would earn just 5,000 which I can only spend with them and two elite-qualifying nights credited to my account.
Yes, this is better than nothing, but it’s hardly innovative. Consider for a moment the reduction received for having the card when compared with peers and previous offerings.
- The American Express SPG card gave cardholders (2) stay credits and (5) nights against a requirement that matched Hyatt’s previous requirement of 25 stays or 50 nights for Platinum status with the chain. The card ostensibly offered 8% of the year’s requirements on stays or 10% on nights (I assume because one cannot split a night credit and more than 10% would have been too much). The annual fee was $95, no free night.
- The Chase Marriott card offers 15 nights against a requirement of 75 nights for top-tier Platinum status or 20% of the requirements, though they are much higher. The chain is also the largest in the world and offers a free night with the card comparable to Hyatt’s.
- The Chase IHG card comes with Platinum status (mid-tier) but no reduction of requirements.
- The Hilton American Express cards come with Gold status (mid-tier) with no reduction of requirements but a spending path to Diamond status.
- Then the Chase Hyatt card comes into play with an offer of 8-9% reduction of requirements depending on whether you are a new or re-qualifying Globalist.
- The Barclaycard Aviator earns $3,000 EQDs at $25k in annual spending or $6,000 EQDs at $50,000 to reduce top-tier spending qualifications by 25-50% of the requirements.
- The Citi American Airlines Executive credit card earns a paltry 10,000 EQMs (innovative at the time but dated now) in exchange for $40,000 in spend.
In essence… this offer may be new to Hyatt but is in no way special.
They Just Don’t Get It
LiveAndLetsFly covers Hyatt an awful lot. All the writers here, Matthew, Carly and myself have loved the brand for a long time. Their suite upgrade policy, generous breakfast and (mostly) very nice hotels have endeared us to the brand. So how do you take three diehards and make them passive towards the brand? Tell them they are valued and then that they are not.
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Visually represented, it’s a little clearer that the rest of the chains have similar or even higher requirements but more opportunity to stay in their properties. Hyatt has requirements of the big boys, just not the hotels required to make their top-tier obtainable.
Put simply (and visually) they have set the bar too high and are trying to walk it back without actually walking it back. Want to earn even faster? Spend 30 nights in any of our 17 Andaz properties! Want to buy your way to to-tier status, Hilton (with 5,000 properties) will do it for $100,000 spent on their credit card, Hyatt wants $140,000 on thier cards.
While Matthew has chosen to upgrade his card, Carly won’t – she’s not going to be close enough to status for it to make sense nor is the spend well incentivized. I may get the card to reduce my requirements and then again, maybe I won’t. I don’t have an opportunity coming up to earn faster at expensive Andaz properties and five fewer nights just doesn’t hold enough panache for me to grab another card.
Do you agree? Is Hyatt walking back their ramped up requirements piecemeal? Do you welcome it or loathe it?