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A Tale of Two Loyalty Programs: Gold Passport vs World of Hyatt

The Scoop

World of Hyatt is just days away from launching. These days, changes to loyalty programs usually means a decrease in benefits, so consumers usually lose out. Hyatt has typically been known to be consumer-centric, plus, they have a great portfolio of properties.

With the revamp just around the corner – let’s take a look and see what Gold Passport Members are gaining (or losing) in the change.

One of the most notable changes (other than the program title and the marketing, which just about everyone seems to hate or love to make fun of), is the opportunity to earn status based on other factors other than just qualifying nights. With the new World of Hyatt program, members will be able to qualify for status with base points earned and qualifying meetings booked with Hyatt.

 

 

Gold vs Base Members

Unlike the Gold Passport program, which automatically gave you “Gold” status as a member with no minimum nights or stays requirements (though no actual elite benefits of any sort, the naming convention was nice), the World of Hyatt program calls their non-elite qualifying members just Members. Gold members won’t lose out on any benefits with the World of Hyatt – in fact, they’ll be picking up a few.

Gold Passport – Gold

  • Base membership (no qualifying nights or stays)
  • 5 base points per dollar spent
  • Use points on free nights with no blackout dates
  • Share points with any Hyatt member

World of Hyatt – Member

  • Base membership (no qualifying nights or stays)
  • 5 base points per dollar spent
  • Use points on free nights with no blackout dates
  • Share points with any Hyatt member
  • Waived resort fees on award stays
  • Sapphire Status with M life Rewards for stays at MGM Resorts International

The waived resort fee is a nice bonus (anyone who’s ever stayed at one surely dreads this unusual fee that covers benefits typically provided with most elite status), as is the status reciprocation with the MGM resorts. I am keen to see how many people actually use this benefit (at any status level), since I don’t see myself staying at MGM resorts (just a personal preference though).

Discoverist

I thought about bucketing this with the Gold Member, but then again, it doesn’t really align with any of the old elite tiers, given the nights requirement. Discoverists will earn all the benefits that Base Members earn, and a few extras:

World of Hyatt – Discoverist

  • 10 Qualifying Nights or 25k base points or 3 qualifying meetings
  • Free bottled water
  • Preferred Room Upgrade
  • Late Check Out 2pm
  • Pearl Status with M life Rewards for stays at MGM Resorts International

With the 10 qualifying night requirement, this falls a step below the minimum nights requirement for the legacy Platinum tier. With this status, members will receive free bottled water, which, though is not explicitly offered with any of the current Gold Passport tiers, I’m a little disappointed to see isn’t offered at the base member level.

Platinum vs Explorist

Here we’ll see the first difference in nights earning requirements between the old and the new program – but do the additional required nights equate to more benefits?

Gold Passport – Platinum

  • 5 Stays or 15 nights
  • Preferred Room Upgrade
  • Late Check Out 2pm
  • 72 Hour Room Guarantee
  • 15% point bonus

World of Hyatt – Explorist

  • 30 Qualifying Nights or 50k base points or 10 qualifying meetings
  • Preferred Room Upgrade
  • Late Check Out 2pm
  • 20% Point Bonus
  • 72 Hour Room Guarantee (Blackout Dates Apply)
  • 4 Club Lounge access passes

Explorists will be earning an extra 5% bonus on base points when compared to their Platinum counterparts, plus Club Lounge passes, but I’m not sure that the perks Explorists receive justify having to earn twice as many nights as Plats used to. While there is a bit of a bump in benefits (including the Club Lounge passes), earning this level of status has become much harder to achieve than before. It’s also worth noting that with the Gold Passport program, the 72 hour room guarantee was not valid at resorts or “during extraordinary room demand”, but with the World of Hyatt program, it specifically calls out that blackout dates apply. It’s tough to tell if these two exceptions mean the same thing, though the World of Hyatt wording does sound a bit more stringent and restrictive.

Diamond vs Globalist

The top tier is where we usually hear the most noise about any changes – and rightfully so. Frequent guests like business travelers spend the most time staying in properties and expect their loyalty to come back in terms of perks.

Gold Passport – Diamond

  • 25 eligible stays 50 eligible nights
  • 20% point bonus
  • Best room available upgrade
  • 48 Hour Room Guarantee
  • 4 suite upgrade certificates – upgrade confirmed at reservation
  • 4pm late check out
  • 2 United Club Passes
  • Access to Club Lounge or Complimentary Breakfast (up to 4 people per room)
  • Welcome amenity
  • In-Hotel Benefits for Guest of Honor when transferring an eligible award

World of Hyatt – Globalist

  • 60 Qualifying Nights or 100k base points or 20 qualifying meetings
  • 30% point bonus
  • 48 Hour Room Guarantee (Blackout Dates Apply)
  • Upgrade to best room available at check in
  • In-Hotel Benefits for Guest of Honor when transferring an eligible award
  • 2 United Club Passes
  • Gold Status with M life Rewards for stays at MGM Resorts International
  • Access to Club Lounge or Complimentary Breakfast (up to 2 adults and 2 children)
  • Complimentary on-property parking (when applicable) when staying on an award night

If we’re seeing the bonuses trimmed anywhere, it’s here at the top level. While Globalists receive an extra 10% point earning bonus on base points, they also need to earn more than double the nights than they did as Diamond guests. Globalists will also earn an extra suite night but will lose the welcome amenity at check in. Plus – stricter complimentary breakfast rules (hope Globalists don’t travel in groups larger than 2 adults and 2 kids).

Ouch.

Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort
Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort. Credit: Hyatt

The Takeaway

At the lowest tier, Hyatt is offering more to their least loyal guests. At the Explorist and Globalist levels (the two highest tiers), we are seeing minimal increase in benefits (or in the case of Globalist, a decrease), at a much higher cost – a higher qualifying night requirement. It’s disappointing to see Hyatt go the direction of just about every loyalty program, cutting the trim at the top and making it more difficult to earn status or benefits. Considering Hyatt has the smallest footprint in terms of global properties when it comes to the multinational hotel chains, earning status will become even more difficult, and may drive customers away to other loyalty programs, where at the very least properties are easier to come by wherever they travel. Now that Marriott has acquired Starwood and has the largest hotel portfolio, it’s tough to make a case to stay loyal to the much smaller Hyatt. Also worth mentioning – SPG Platinum (the highest elite tier) only requires 50 nights to attain and offers much richer benefits (not to mention automatic status match to Marriott Platinum, which requires 75 qualifying nights – until the two programs fully merge, that is).

 

Hyatt loyalists – are you sticking to the World of Hyatt come March 1? 

Grand Hyatt Goa
Grand Hyatt Goa. Credit: Hyatt
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