There has been quite a bit of movement in the hotel space over the last couple of years, specifically with the Marriott acquisition of SPG. I think some would say that some of the ways Marriott has handled that has pushed them away to look at other hotels. Fortunately, there is a hotel program, World of Hyatt, that has been doing a lot of things right.
The Switch to World of Hyatt Program and the Negative Takes
A couple of years ago, Hyatt revealed that they were shaking up their elite program – not the least of which meant going from the normal names of elite status levels to names that they hoped would connect with the new generation of travelers (I’m still not a fan of them!).
In addition to name changes, they also really hiked up the requirements for top-tier status, the new Hyatt Globalist. Instead of being able to achieve it on 25 stays in a year, you needed to do it on 60 nights in a year. That created a big backlash from many loyal customers and caused some to change their loyalty to the brand. Others stayed but were not able to stay at top tier status (count me in that group – I only do about 30-35 nights at Hyatt properties in a year).
Part of the problem with the new requirements was the footprint of Hyatt brands – it was just too small. While Chicago and New York were well represented on the list of Hyatt cities, others like Los Angeles and foreign hot spots like Madrid, Athens, and others were not.
The Moves That Have Made World of Hyatt the Exciting Program It Is Now
However, since that time, Hyatt has made a lot of great moves that have really made the World of Hyatt program an exciting one. These moves have helped with one of the biggest negatives of Hyatt (their global footprint) as well as improving their credit card offer. Let’s get into it.
World of Hyatt’s Expansion Around the World with Small Luxury Hotels of the World
The global footprint of Hyatt was a problem but rather than just build a ton of new hotels for their various brands (which they are actually doing) or buying/merging with other hotel chains (like Marriott), Hyatt has gone in an interesting direction.
They formed a partnership with Small Luxury Hotels of the World that allows World of Hyatt members to redeem points at some truly unique properties while also getting some elite-like benefits that all Hyatt members can take advantage of. Not only that but it allowed Hyatt to expand into places that they had a very small presence or no presence at all – without having to build hotels.
For instance, practically overnight, Hyatt went from having just two properties in all of Greece to over 20 properties available to members. The same with Italy and Spain, countries that are very important for summer tourists.
Plus, these properties are not just cookie-cutter hotels. They have many unique properties – like castles, beautiful resorts, historical buildings, and more! Especially when it comes to visiting Europe, properties like that can help the tourists still get a feel for the culture and history of Europe while using Hyatt points to stay there.
Well done, Hyatt!
World of Hyatt’s Acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality
This move brought 4 new brands into the Hyatt family, again with some unique properties in many places where Hyatt was historically weak. It also opened up more vacation destination to Hyatt members for using their points.
Those 4 new brands are:
All the brands are now integrated though additional properties will be coming as time goes on. Each brand has its own particular “look” and “feel” as well so you will still be staying at a hotel but, again, it will be different from many of the cookie-cutter brands out there.
This was another nice move by Hyatt that integrated into the World of Hyatt program more choices for their members.
The New World of Hyatt Credit Card
Unlike other hotel chains, Hyatt had existed with a single, personal credit card for a long time. It was ok – it offered a free Category 1 – 4 night each year ($75 annual fee) and the ability to spend towards earning status as a whole. But, that changed last year.
Last year, Hyatt unveiled their new World of Hyatt credit card that bumped the annual fee up ($95) but offered a lot in return. For starters, there was the new bonus of 60,000 points which was the best ever.
Some of the great things about the card are the existence of the free night each year again but also the ability to earn another free night by spending $15,000 in a calendar year. In addition to the free nights, now you can earn elite night credit as well. That includes 5 nights each year just for holding the card and another 2 nights for every $5,000 spent.
That means that if you go for that second free night by spending, you will have earned a total of 11 nights toward status! To make it better, those 2 award nights also count towards elite status so you have 13 nights (or almost halfway to the Explorist status) without even paying for a room yet!
Also, Hyatt has run promos that allows cardholders to get a 10% rebate back on their award nights. This is something they did in the past and it has been good to see them continue to do it with this card.
The World of Hyatt Award Program
This is one area where I think Hyatt continues to do a good job. They did devalue one of my favorite redemption options last year (the Points+Cash) but they replaced that devaluation with some interesting ways to use points as well (like spending 9,000 points for a premium suite on a cash rate).
They had changed the program to allow for actual award nights and free nights on points to count towards elite status. They also give out free nights upon hitting milestones – hitting 30 nights earns a free Category 1 – 4 night and hitting 60 nights earns a Category 1 – 7 night.
They continue to run promos as well (like this one) that benefit members and help to earn more points or get some of their points back on stays. These are all things that are different from the usual hotel promos that are run by other companies.
They have even partnered with American Airlines to give status opportunities (I am back at AA Gold as a result and have 6 more 500 mile upgrades, thanks to Hyatt). This is another way to earn points as well.
While I still don’t like the new 60 night requirement for Globalist status (I miss having top tier status!), I think that Hyatt has done a net positive job for both customers and Hyatt with the way the current World of Hyatt award program exists.
While some hotel programs flounder or just are getting too big, Hyatt has been going in a different direction with properties. I think the moves Hyatt has made are pretty exciting and it has made booking with Hyatt a lot easier as a result – around the world.
Are there things I would like improved? Of course – what traveler wouldn’t! But, there are also more things going right with World of Hyatt than with other programs and these are the reasons the World of Hyatt program is the most exciting one of the year!
Featured image is the Aleenta Resort and Spa in Phuket, Thailand