American Airlines and Hyatt Hotels announced a partnership that will allow elites from each program to earn while flying or staying with the other. But some aspects of the partnership are one-sided, leaving Hyatt members upset, but maybe they shouldn’t be upset.
American Airlines and Hyatt members will each earn points in the other program, allowing them to double dip and earn on both programs for a single transaction. Hyatt Discoverists, Explorists and Globalists will earn 1 bonus World of Hyatt point for every dollar spent on American Airlines flights in addition to American Advantage miles. All American Airlines elites will earn one bonus point per dollar spent on Hyatt stays.
How Does This Compare to Similar Partnerships?
Delta had a similar reciprocal program with SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) prior to their merger with Marriott. Marriott had their own relationship with United Airlines and they matched nearly exactly the (groundbreaking at the time) Delta/SPG Crossover. Elites in either program got the lowest level status on the other.
For what it’s worth, I attempted to use my Crossover benefits (as an SPG Platinum) to get something as simple as priority checkin and while I qualified for the benefit (Crossover printed on my boarding pass), I was denied flatly at the airport.
Where this diverges from similar programs is that the benefits really come into play for American’s (unpublished requirements) Concierge Key customers who have been gifted a highly valuable, highly coveted status with tangible benefits from day one. Hyatt has an equally double secret top-tier unpublished status as well but their “Courtesy Card” holders) receive no status with American whatsoever or at least none was reported. This is frustrating for Globalists who feel they should have gotten something, even Gold status (lowest tier) with American.
Hyatt elites will have the opportunity to challenge for American status, presumably with no cost, eliminating the $200 fee American currently charges to anyone who pursues status via truncated requirements. Full details coming, the cost waiver is conjecture on my part.
What Has Globalists Upset?
Getting to 60 nights with Hyatt can be really tough. Traveling professionals spending 16.4% of their entire year with the brand deserve more than Globalist status, they deserve a medal. Plenty of ink has been spilled decrying the tragedy that is Hyatt’s footprint in the past, however, through partnerships, expansion, and acquisitions the chain has increased from 700+ properties to more than 1,000 in the last 12 months.
Nevertheless, pick a medium to small market in the US and count Hyatt properties (if any) compared to Hilton, IHG or Marriott and you will see why Hyatt’s 60-night requirement is so tough to achieve. For those that climb the mountain and make the commitment, it’s precious, not something to be given away.
Some estimate the quantity of Globalists to mirror Concierge Key at about 11-15,000/year; neither American nor Hyatt will disclose the actual number so assumptions and estimations are the best we have.
Globalists get nothing while Concierge Key flyers with American get the very best published status available. That has a lot of Globalists upset, especially those concerned that their chances of securing upgrades diluted by half as a result of the partnership. Matthew suggested Globalists would have gotten entry-level Gold status with American in exchange for their loyalty to Hyatt. It’s as if Hyatt values the potential for new customers more than their own current customers and American looks at even the most elite Hyatt customers no different than any other member off the street.
The reciprocal earning bonuses are appreciated, but not a major motivating factor for Globalists I know. After all, they could just pay for their American flights with an American Airlines credit card and get more benefits than they do through this relationship and then some.
Globalists Shouldn’t Be Too Upset
While Globalists take the number of purported CKs to mean that their ranks of Globalists have doubled, the reality is that math probably doesn’t work. For example, assuming the number of Concierge Key members is 11,300, identical to Hyatt Globalists some of those CKs are already Globalists as both elites are serious travelers and likely road warriors. Pure duplication of members will reduce the saturation significantly.
Of those that are not already Concierge Key and Globalists, those CKs are likely already entrenched in other hotel loyalty programs like Hilton, IHG, or Bonvoyed. If they hadn’t committed to Hyatt before this partnership there was either a good reason or lack of desire to switch programs – giving them free status won’t necessarily move the needle for them. I previously described how useless I found Crossover benefits from SPG to Delta to be, and I never used my United Silver status through Marriott. I was committed to my experience elsewhere, others will be the same.
The threat to Globalists has to be further reduced when split over even more properties in more markets and the fact that unlike competition among other Globalists, Concierge Key holders will not have to maintain 55-60 nights and therefore, likely won’t.
In total, I would estimate that no more than 2,000-3,000 Concierge Key customers utilize their Hyatt Globalist status at an elevated rate with a measurable effect on current Globalist elite experience.
Hyatt frustrated me by separating benefits from earning status, now that decision is their saving grace. While CKs will have “Globalist” lite status, they won’t have the (4) confirmable suite upgrades, free 1-4/1-7 category free night certificates – those are all earned via qualified stays.
Hyatt didn’t have any such tie-ups with airlines before so in this case, something really should be considered better than nothing. Further, I would rather have the option to challenge for higher status levels than to be gifted a status that adds little value to my life as the other programs have done.
It’s a Matter of Scale
The American Airlines Advantage program is the largest loyalty program in the world. Hyatt is dramatically smaller. Globalists would be a rounding error in the Advantage program, and the reality is that American is connecting their best customers with Hyatt which could dramatically change their business. Hyatt doesn’t have as much to offer in the same way and needs to make up ground accordingly in order for a deal to be mutually beneficial.
What do you think? Did Globalists get a bad deal? Will the new Concierge Key members have a measurable effect on Globalist’s experience? Is something better than nothing?