World of Hyatt made a huge announcement today: Beginning in 2018, award stays will count towards elite status. This is a big improvement in the program that will surely sit well with many miles and points aficionados.
When the new World of Hyatt program was announced last fall, Greg summed up his feelings about the program in two posts that covered all of key facets of the new program:
Those posts really highlight the main things to love and hate about the program. I’ve experienced a love-hate relationship with Hyatt that mostly mirrors Greg’s points. This year, I’ve saved a ton of money on parking fees on award stays and enjoyed some great suite upgrades (both with and without using a suite upgrade award) and I’ve been able to share Globalist benefits with friends by booking award stays for them. But on the other hand, despite the fact that I’ve cumulatively spent several weeks at Hyatt hotels this year, I’ve only earned a few nights toward elite status due to Hyatt’s previous policy not to count award stays.
But that’s about to change
Today Hyatt announced that beginning in 2018, all free night stays will count towards elite status. Note the wording — not just award stays will count, but also:
- The annual free Category 1-4 night that comes with the Hyatt Credit Card
- The free Cat 1-4 free night earned after 30 elite qualifying nights
- The Cat 1-7 certificate earned after 60 elite qualifying nights
- The free Cat 1-4 certs earned after staying at 5 and then 10 brands (note that you only earn these once).
This is a welcome and awesome change!
Previously, only cash stays or cash & points stays counted toward elite status. Because of this and Hyatt’s 60-night qualification threshold for top-tier Globalist status, many people made more frequent use of cash & points stays rather than completely free night awards. The problem with that is that, at the high end of the spectrum, a cash & points stay would still cost you $300 cash for the night. That’s a sum that might be attractive compared to the cash cost and perceived value of the points, but still a big chunk of change. Now those who prefer full award stays with no cash co-pay will earn elite credit.
That’s not all – free night certs will have an extended shelf life
Hyatt didn’t stop the good news at award stays counting toward status: they have additionally announced that World of Hyatt is extending the validity of some of those free night certificates noted above. Currently, free night certificates earned after 30 and 60 elite qualifying nights expire after 120 days. That’s a pain — many people have vacations planned farther in advance or won’t necessarily get a chance to use the earned certificates within the period of validity. Furthermore, Gary Leff at View from the Wing reported that he didn’t even receive notification when he had earned one of them — increasing the chance of missing out on the ability to use one before it expired. The good news is that those certificates will enjoy an expanded expiration policy started next year, moving from 120 days to 180 days of validity next year.
How exciting are these developments?
I think it’s easy to see that these are net positive developments for World of Hyatt members. Hilton, SPG, and Marriott already count award stays toward status requirements. Hyatt was behind on this front and I’m glad to see that they have finally caught up. Furthermore, I think that the inclusion of award stays makes it a lot easier for many members to reach Explorist status. While Explorist status certainly won’t feel generous compared to Gloablist status, the 4 annual Club Lounge upgrades can be quite valuable, especially for those traveling with kids. Four upgrades per year will likely cover leisure travel for most members. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either.
On the other hand, I think that Hyatt is still demanding far too much in terms of top-tier qualification requirements for a program with such a small footprint. Hyatt simply isn’t everywhere I need them to be. Beyond that, while Hyatt’s top-tier properties can be amazing, the vast majority of the chain consists Hyatt Place and Hyatt House locations where elite benefits don’t mean much. This quarter’s promo for credit card holders to earn Gloablist status with just 20 nights indicates that Hyatt probably isn’t keeping quite as many 60-night guests as they thought. It’s good to see Hyatt is responding to that with some improvements to the program.
Hyatt’s move to award elite credit for award stays in 2018 is a change that is good to see. I still don’t imagine I’ll be spending sixty nights at Hyatt hotels — but I imagine that quite a few folks will be close enough to consider mattress running a few award nights to re-qualify. Furthermore, it’ll become theoretically possible to manufacture spend for elite status — even if it makes about as much sense as MSing for a month in New York City.
H/T: One Mile at a Time