Preliminary thoughts on World of Hyatt

By now you may have heard that in March, 2017, Hyatt Gold Passport is going away. Apparently, it will be replaced by a completely new program called "World of Hyatt." I first read about the change at a blog called Pen and Passport, but you can now find the details sprayed all over whichever blog is your favorite.

Here are my first few thoughts about the transition to the new program based on the information currently available.

World of Hyatt makes 2017 Diamond requalification a no-brainer

I've been dramatically hemming and hawing about whether to requalify for Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond status this year, and the new program makes the decision easy.

That's because of the way Hyatt Gold Passport Diamonds will be transitioned to World of Hyatt "Globalists," the new program's top tier:

  • 2017 Hyatt Gold Passport Diamonds will become 2017 World of Hyatt Globalists on March 1, 2017;
  • 2017 World of Hyatt Globalists will receive a free night at any Category 1-7 Hyatt property in the world;
  • 2017 World of Hyatt Globalists will receive 4 confirmed suite upgrades that can be applied to any stay, whether it has a cash component or not.

Additionally, starting on March 1, 2017, Globalists will be entitled to the best room available at check-in, including standard suites. That's better than the current "best standard room excluding suites" benefit, especially for leisure travelers who occupy hotels when Globalist business travelers are less likely to be there.

2017 is the year to take your Hyatt dream vacation(s)

If you're the kind of person who has mulled a trip to Paris, Sydney, Tokyo, or one of Hyatt's prestige resort properties even farther afield, but put it off figuring that there was always time next year — time's up!

Starting March 1, 2017, as a Globalist you'll be able to redeem points (plus your free Category 1-7 night certificate) for award stays at any Hyatt property without using a cash co-pay and redeem your 4 suite upgrade certificates. Since, as of now, Hyatt doesn't appear to be changing their award redemption costs, the cost of a suite-eligible room at Category 7 properties will drop from $450 in cash and transferred Ultimate Rewards points to just $300 in transferred Ultimate Rewards points. On a 7-night stay, that's $1,050 in savings — enough for 3 more nights at a Category 7 property!

Even at lower-category properties, if you are not attempting to requalify for Globalist status there's no reason to ever pay cash for a Hyatt stay, since award stays are eligible for both confirmed and complimentary suite upgrades.

One possible route to 2018 requalification

Since World of Hyatt is reported to go into effect March 1, 2017, Twitter user MJC asked the reasonable question, "couldn't you also squeeze 25 stays in Jan/Feb to get 2018 qualification done under the old system?"

In other words, MJC is asking whether it's possible to be "transitioned" twice: once from Hyatt Gold Passport 2017 Diamond membership to World of Hyatt 2017 Globalist membership, then a second time from Hyatt Gold Passport 2018 Diamond membership to World of Hyatt 2018 Globalist membership (good until February 28, 2019).

This would only apply to the small number of Gold Passport members who meet Gold Passport Diamond membership requirements between January 1 and February 28, 2017. While undoubtedly a small group, it's not utterly implausible for someone who has the Hyatt Gold Passport credit card who's able to spend $40,000 on the card and also earn 20 elite-qualifying stays or 40 elite-qualifying nights in those 59 days.

Whether or not that strategy will be allowed is something that won't be known until World of Hyatt is officially announced and additional details are announced, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on if you're interested in making a big play for 2018 Globalist status.

Conclusion

World of Hyatt means the end of top-tier Hyatt elite status for most travel hackers without substantial reimbursed business travel. Earning 60 elite-qualifying nights is simply too expensive compared to the benefits Globalist status will offer.

Meanwhile, reimbursed business travelers who have their choice of hotel property and who spend a huge number of nights in markets served by Hyatt will have to decide whether the new suite upgrade benefits and Category 1-7 certificates earned by Globalist status are enough to attract their hotel dollar.

Updated Hyatt Point Density Charts

Part of the purpose of this website is to serve as a resource for analysis of loyalty programs so my readers can easily compare the value offered by credit card signup bonuses, seasonal promotions, and manufactured spending. To that end, one of the first projects I undertook here was my analysis of hotel "point density," comparing earning rates under different circumstances to the points needed for actual hotel night redemptions. Since Hyatt recently announced a devaluation to their program, increasing the cost of some awards and introducing a new award category, it's time to update my analysis of their point density.

As a reminder, here's Hyatt's current award chart, valid for bookings made through January 6, 2014:

And here's the new award chart, for award redemptions made beginning January 7, 2014:

As you can see, the devaluation hits properties in Categories 5 and 6, as well as those in the new Category 7 (for now these are some of the premier Park Hyatt properties, including Paris, Milan, Sydney, and Tokyo). For redemptions at those specific properties, Hyatt points just got much less valuable: 30,000 points will be needed where only 22,000 are required today, a 27% devaluation in the value of Hyatt points.

The purpose of a point density chart is to show the rebate value of various activities. This chart shows the pre-devaluation spending required to generate free nights at each Hyatt category:

So a Hyatt Diamond elite putting their Hyatt stays on a Hyatt co-branded credit card today needs to spend $2,316 at Hyatt properties to generate a free night at a top-tier Hyatt property. As you'd expect, post-devaluation that number goes way up:

This clearly shows the extent of the devaluation: the same amount of Hyatt spend that previously earned a free night at a top-tier Hyatt now only earns a night at a Category 5 property!

If you liked this post, you can find a similar analysis of a number of other competing loyalty programs at my page dedicated to Chapter 6 of my ebook, The Free-quent Flyer's Manifesto.

Hilton HHonors devaluation now in effect

As I reported last month, the Hilton HHonors program underwent a serious devaluation on March 28.  I've updated the website with an updated award redemption chart and point density analysis.  In summary, redemptions for top-tier hotels have become about twice as difficult to earn through spending on paid Hilton hotel stays.  While still easier to earn than Starwood top-tier redemptions, the difference in point density between the two programs' top-tier points redemptions has definitely narrowed, to Hilton's disadvantage.

One side benefit of the Hilton devaluation is that their introduction of seasonal pricing at some properties has caused them to develop an extremely useful tool for viewing year-round pricing at their properties worldwide.  The Points Pricing tool allows to you search by city and view all the Hilton properties in that city, and each properties standard room award price by month.  This makes it easy to see how the award pricing at different properties varies throughout the year.  Here a search for Portland, Oregon, shows how some properties jump in price between June and July: