If you own Hyatt’s cobranded credit card, you may have heard about an exciting, albeit controversial, promotion valid from September through to the end of 2017: you now only need 20 nights to qualify for the program’s highest elite status, Globalist level. You previously needed 60! Similarly, the requisite for the second highest tier, Explorist, has been cut by two-thirds too, down from 30 nights to 10. Click here if you want to register. The details are simple, and are as follows:
Depending on where you stand with Hyatt, you’ll either be thrilled by this development or rather angry about it. For those of you who don’t have a lot of credited nights this year, this offer comes as a godsend, as it will allow you to catch up and have a better chance at earning elite status for 2018. It’s quite a generous proposition!
Meanwhile, a lot of travel bloggers have expressed their dismay following this development, calling the deal a “slap in the face,” “disappointing,” and “desperate.” I can’t say that I blame them; these are people who spend several weeks per year on the road, and often go to great lengths to stay at Hyatt locations. Considering that the brand’s global footprint is tiny — for every seventh Starwood property (or Marriott, or Hilton, or IHG), there’s just one Hyatt on average. It’s clear that these frequent travelers have invested a lot in company loyalty.
As per World of Hyatt’s conditions, those who meet pre-established conditions are entitled to special perks, like complimentary breakfast and lounge access, suite upgrades, and late check-outs. These are incentives that Hyatt should, and do, offer customers in order to encourage them to stay again; all of the other major chains have their own variations of this practice. So when the most loyal guests satisfy the qualifying criteria during the first half of the year, and spend a lot to do so, they’re going to be rightfully miffed when the company says, “actually, you don’t need to spend that much.”
There are a lot of analytical pieces out there about the business aspect of this promotion. The general consensus seems to be that Hyatt is failing to meet its projections for new elite members, while also struggling to retain current ones.
So in short, such an initiative was motivated by purely business reasons, specifically, customer retention. Hotels, and airlines and banks and really any other kind of enterprise, all need to focus on maintaining profitability. Otherwise, they’ll fail. Hyatt is no exception here, and it’s a shame that corporate management is trying to resolve its issues by implementing measures that hurt regularly returning guests.
There are three important lessons to be learned from this situation though, all of which higher flyers should keep in their minds when strategizing for future travels:
- Corporations are not your friends, and…
- You do not owe them anything, and…
- They do not owe you anything.
Perhaps that may seem harsh, but it’s true. As private firms, they have to make money, and loyalty programs are hugely profitable assets for their parent companies. Maybe you’ll get a free room every now and then, plus an upgrade to a suite every few stays, but all of those decisions factor in to a carefully calculated equation: how can we get the greatest amount of money from this guest? Receptionists aren’t thanking you for your loyalty because you’re a nice and kind person who exclusively stays at Hyatts (or Marriotts or Hiltons); no, they’re appreciative of how much money you routinely invest into the corporation.
There’s nothing wrong with that business practice… in theory. It’s frustrating when devaluations occur. It sucks even more when you’re treated like the hardcore Hyatt fans who accrued Globalist status the hard way, and now will be grossly overpaying for what some will be getting at a third of the originally stated cost. That’s not fair, but because loyalty programs are privately regulated, you don’t have a lot of say and your opinion won’t hold much sway. You’re held to the terms and conditions you agreed to, but the companies are not — who’s to punish them? Nobody’s going to jail over devaluations.
But as informed consumers, you don’t have to be pushed around by the games hotels play. You can play too! That’s what higher flying is all about. Find the loopholes to make your dollars go further. Maximize the purchasing power of your points. Be sure to fight for every last thing that you’re entitled to, and never, ever settle for less than what it is you want. And if push comes to shove, take your business elsewhere. Starwood and Hilton have good programs too!
In other words,
And for those who can take advantage of this fast track promotion at Hyatt, by all means, do so! It’s one of the most compelling opportunities of the year, and you’ll get access to some of the best elite perks. Good luck!