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The world of hotel loyalty programs looks to be entering a time of radical change over the coming 12/18 months. Already we’ve begun to see the effect of Marriott buying Starwood with the ability to link Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts, automatic status matches, and as of last week, reciprocal earning across Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, and, Starwood properties on co-branded credit cards. Well, get ready for more big changes!

As of March 1, 2017, Hyatt Gold Passport will be no more! Hyatt has unveiled plans in a press release outlining an end to Hyatt Gold Passport, and a move to a new loyalty program called World of Hyatt.

New elite tiers, including the addition of a third tier, the removal of the 25 stays option and a change to the number of qualifying nights required to reach top-tier status, and other changes we’ll dig into in more detail below.

World of Hyatt

New ‘World of Hyatt' Loyalty Program for Hyatt Hotels & Resorts

The first change to catch our eye was the changes affecting elite qualification, particularly with Hyatt adding a third elite tier. Hyatt is removing the ability to qualify for elite status on stays (previously members could qualify for Hyatt Diamond after 25 stays or 50 nights), instead, moving to a system that allows qualification based on nights, base points, or the number of meetings.

The change will have the largest impact on members who previously qualified by notching up 25 or more overnight stays and signals a shift of focus for Hyatt to reward guests for longer stays and higher spend.

World of Hyatt Elite Qualification

There will now be three tiers that sit above the base Hyatt loyalty membership.

  • Discoverist – Requires 10 nights, or 25,000 base points (equal to $5K spend), or 3 meetings
  • Explorist – Requires 30 nights, or 50,000 base points (equal to $10K spend), or 10 meetings
  • Globalist – Requires 60 nights, 100,000 base points (equal to $20K spend), or 20 meetings

The exception is for members that are re-qualifying for Globalist, which will only require 55 nights, although the spend requirement doesn’t change.

Hyatt did note that any stays made at the start of 2017, before the program starts, will count towards the new elite tiers after the transition to World of Hyatt, which naturally leads us into how the old elite tiers will transfer into the new.

  • Members that have qualified for Diamond for 2017 receive Globalist status
  • If members were Diamond for 2016 but didn’t re-qualify for 2017, you will automatically receive Explorist (even if they didn’t qualify under the new rules)
  • Platinum members for 2017 will be moved onto Discoverist

One thing to note is that Hyatt will be retroactively going through members accounts to determine qualification based on the new requirements, so if you qualified as Platinum based on the old standards, but would have qualified as Explorist under the new rules, you would receive the later.

This will be worth following up at the time to make sure your account is looked at correctly. The token mid-tier status for current Diamonds is a nice touch.

You can catch the promo video for the new program.

More Free Nights with World of Hyatt

Members will receive more free nights under the new program, particularly over the first year, with the possibility of scoring four free nights over 2017.

  • Earn one free night in a Category 1-4 property when trying 5 different Hyatt brands
  • Earn a second free night in a Category 1-4 property when trying 5 more unique Hyatt brands
  • Members that qualify for Explorist status in 2017 receive a free night in a Category 1-4 property – must be consumed (not just booked) within 120 days
  • Members that qualify for Globalist status in 2017 receive a free night in a Category 1-7 property – must be consumed (not just booked) within 120 days

Hyatt Is Adding More Free Suite Upgrades

There are some significant changes to suite upgrades under the new program, in addition to changing the upgrade benefits across the new elite tiers.

  • Globalist members will receive the same four confirmed suite upgrades, but they will now be available on paid stays, cash + points stays, and award stays
  • After reaching 60 nights and Globalist status, top-tier members will have the choice of 10K points or an additional confirmed suite upgrade at 70, 80, 90, and 100 nights
  • As a Globalist, you’ll also receive unlimited suite upgrades at check-in if they are available, this is outside of the four confirmed upgrades

Another change is when members receive the upgrades. Rather than receiving them at the start of the new elite calendar year, suite upgrades will be awarded when a member re-qualifies for Globalist. The caveat here is that suite upgrades must be used within 12 months.

  • Discoverist – Best available room within type booked
  • Explorist – Best available room, excluding club floor and suites
  • Globalist – Best available room including standard suites

Changes to Hyatt Breakfast and Lounge Access Benefits

While top-tier members will continue to receive breakfast, the rules will change slightly.

  • Explorists will receive club access four times per year for up to 7 nights each stay across paid and award stays
  • Globalists will receive lounge access, and when there’s no lounge, will instead get a restaurant breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children
  • Hyatt is removing the 2,500 points awarded to top-tier elites when a club lounge is closed for breakfast

Other Changes to Hyatt's Loyalty Program

There are some other changes to the program, and also a few things worth noting that haven’t changed at all.

  • Top-tier elites will no longer receive a welcome amenity of 1,000 points
  • Nor will they receive a turndown service
  • Hyatt is retaining the Guest of Honor benefits
  • Globalists will also receive free hotel parking on award stays
  • A free bottle of water per day stays across all elite tiers
  • Globalist members will no longer pay Resort Fees on paid stays
  • Discoverist and Explorist receive 2pm checkout (unchanged)
  • Globalist keep 4pm checkout

Final Thoughts

It’s a huge amount of information to digest in one sitting, so this is more just initial thoughts.

First, what to like about the changes. If you’re top-tier elite, and you qualify on nights or spend, you’re in good shape. Re-qualifying on 55 nights is not that much of a jump from 50, and Hyatt has added tangible benefits to its top-tier status.

The addition of award stays to confirmed suite upgrades, suite upgrades for road warriors clocking up over 60 qualifying nights, and unlimited suite upgrades (when available) for Globalist members, plus the two free nights members will earn as they jump through Explorist to Globalist are huge additions. If you are a Globalist, these are positive changes.

Where do the changes fall short? There is the potential for Hyatt to lose business in the middle sector of the hotel market here, the leisure market mainly. The requirement for nights and spend to earn status will marginalize members who were earning status on stays, receiving Diamond on 25 nights as opposed to earning Explorist after 30? No thanks. But then in Hyatt’s defense, that is most likely the purpose, to reward the guests who add the most value.

What will be interesting is to see how other programs respond to this, will it affect how Marriott incorporates SPG into the fold when combining the two programs?

If you are a Hyatt Gold Passport member, we’d love to hear from you in the comments. How do you see these changes affecting your Hyatt strategies over the coming months?

Details of Hyatt’s New ‘World of Hyatt’ Loyalty Program
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