Despite my bitterness toward Hyatt, reviewing my actual results for the year I decided to return to the brand full force and double down. Oh, the hypocrisy.
“Do As I Say, Not As I Do”
My parents tried to live out lives that walked the walk and not just talked the talk, but more than once I heard, “do as I say, not as I do”. This frequently comes up when I advise others on their travel questions. “If I fly 100,000 miles/year, should I stick with one carrier or just fly whoever is convenient?” Stick to one carrier I would say. Then I look at my own habits and find I have been splitting a lot of my loyalty. What can I say? I’m human.
In my post two weeks ago I stated I would not seek out Hyatt the rest of the year for re-qualification of my Diamond Globalist status. I lied. Not intentionally of course, but my actions speak louder than my words. That doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you, in fact, for most travelers (even business travelers) Hyatt is the wrong choice due to their limited footprint and high requirements. But following some analysis and reflection, my tune changed.
Mid-Year Status Evaluation… Surprised Me
I’m happy to admit my own hypocrisy when applicable. In this case, I am being hypocritical in that just two weeks ago I discussed how Hyatt went too far with Globalist requirements and that I wouldn’t focus on the program. Then this last week I doubled down. What changed? Metrics.
I looked at my upgrade numbers from Hyatt compared to Marriott, SPG, and IHG and they simply put me in a nicer room without arm wrestling any time I’m in a full-service hotel. I have also split loyalty this year in some markets where I have decided I won’t next year. The great Marriott/SPG experiment is over for me, and putting 26 nights back in markets where I had a Hyatt option (New Orleans, Houston, Los Angeles, etc.) has run its course. Following an awkward conversation at the Freddies, I don’t trust those people as far as I can throw them – and I haven’t been pumping much iron lately.
The choice to double down and really focus on Hyatt through the end of the year and for 2019 was based on the numbers and the value I am receiving from the chain. It is also coupled with the fact that looking forward, I am choosing as much who my partners are by determining who they aren’t.
Hyatt’s Changes In Aggregate
A lot of really confusing changes came out with the switch from Hyatt Gold Passport (as it was, and is, and forever will be – for me) to World of Hyatt (blech). It was such a dramatic series of overnight changes and the only ones that seemed tangible were the negatives. Breakfast for up to four in your party just became two adults and two kids, but what if you’re a family of four with two in high school? Moving from as few as 25 stays (could have been 25 single night stays) to 60 nights minimum – potentially 240% increase. All of the new benefits seemed intangible, like free upgrades subject to availability at checkin. How well would that be executed? The brand was very vague in communicating that they granted status top-tier guests that had already earned in the previous year as now a benevolent gift and not something earned after all. They also separated the benefits from the status and made qualified guests re-earn their status in order to receive their suite night benefit.
However, as Hyatt began to realize the program had gone too far in pushing elites away from the program, they started to make little changes one at a time.
- Award nights count toward status.
- Double-elite qualifying stays at Andaz properties (17) for July-August.
- New Hyatt credit card with an automatic reduction of 5 nights toward elite status.
Initially, all of the bad news delivered at once left such a terrible taste in my mouth that I soured on the brand and moved them from #1 to #4 in terms of priority in qualification. That seems like an arbitrary thing, but consider that I spent at least 60 nights in Hilton, 25 in SPG and 75 in IHG before putting Hyatt in line and that’s despite the fact that IHG hates their elites.
If Hyatt’s positive changes that arrived one-by-one had instead come along with the bad news when they first rolled out the program, I might have never shuffled the deck. In aggregate, the changes have been good and my suite upgrades better than I realized but taken one at a time were never enough to tip me back to being a fan of Hyatt until I crunched the numbers.
Thinking About 2019 Already
I know, I know, it’s still 2018 and I haven’t re-qualified for this year, next year isn’t what you should focus on. You’re absolutely right, but just indulge me for a moment. I am 34 years old now and on the road an awful lot. I am starting to feel my age, salt and pepper have found their way to my hair. I want to travel comfortably pretty much all the time now and if I should have to qualify for status in a program next year I don’t want to have to rough it in the process.
Next year I anticipate a reduced travel schedule and when I choose where to struggle (like with Hyatt’s limited footprint). At least when I arrive I can stay in comfort. If I focus on SPG/Marriott – whatever they are going to call the new program – I will probably have to battle for an upgrade (even SPG properties made me argue or lied to my face about upgrades this year as a Platinum). If I got the Marriott/SPG whatever card to shortcut my stay requirement from 75 to 60 nights, I am sure it would be a battle every stay and I just don’t have it in me. IHG doesn’t have that fifth gear to make me want to stay in their properties with my family (outside of Kimptons and some Intercontinental Hotels). Hilton, due to carry-over nights is already re-qualified for 2019 – those folks are just awesome.
You’re always going to have a pile of … stuff… to deal with. Whether you’re Justin Bieber that can’t buy a pack of gum in public without someone snapping their photo or a blue collar guy that hates his boss, everyone has their own pile of …stuff… to deal with. The important thing is to find the …stuff… you want to deal with and not focus on a …stuff-free… life. It’s not going to happen.
Applying such a lesson here, while Marriott/SPG have a ton of hotels, I don’t want to have to fight for upgrades at checkin. Their program is too complex with which hotels offer which benefits, and their properties are often more expensive.
I’d just rather deal with Hyatt’s stuff than Marriott/SPG’s and that was my realization following the surprising results of my mid-year status numbers.
I Still Think Hyatt Went Too Far With Globalist Requirements
For most business travelers, my assessment that Hyatt went too far with Globalist requirements hasn’t changed. Requiring 60 nights without a reduction for stays given the limited opportunity to stay in their hotels remains too steep. They require the same amount of nights as Hilton with a footprint 85% smaller and that’s crazy. But, following the publication of the aforementioned two posts I have reconsidered my position a little. They have added some worthy shortcuts to reduce the number back down to a reasonable target, even if it’s still on the high side.
Have you been hypocritical in your loyalty choices? Should I have left Hyatt behind and never went back even after looking at the metrics? How has your experience with Hyatt been?