Posted by Ric Garrido

Hyatt Gold Passport has officially announced through FlyerTalk it will no longer offer status matches to Gold Passport Platinum and Diamond elite membership based on elite membership in other hotel loyalty programs.  In select cases an individual may receive an elite status trial offer at the discretion of a property’s sales department.

The folks at Hyatt Gold Passport have apparently decided that requiring loyalty members to earn Diamond status with 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year is a better business model after more than a full year of instant elite and fast-track offers in 2009-2010 (May 1- Aug 31, 2009), (Stays Count Double Oct 2009 – Jan 2010), (Feb-May 2010) even to Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond, and retention of Diamond elite for just 15 nights within 180 days of membership.

Perhaps the recent Frequent Traveler Awards Loyalty Leadership recognition for its Diamond-level, loyalty program industry-exclusive benefit of four confirmed suite upgrades annually gave a little more publicity to the high value of Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond elite membership benefits. Hyatt Gold Passport press release.

Converting your Starwood Preferred Guest $1,200 in hotel spend for 13 nights at Four Points hotels to Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond membership with four complimentary confirmed suite upgrades was perhaps a bit too generous.

The Hilton HHonors Diamond member who could upgrade her next business trip to London with an Andaz Hotel suite for 4 days and then a suite at the Park Hyatt Tokyo for 7 nights on her first two Hyatt stays was perhaps leaving too much hotel spend unspent at Hyatt.

This change is not surprising for several reasons.

First is the comparable airline practice for status matching elites rarely applies to top tier matches. American Airlines Executive Platinum and United Mileage Plus 1K members receive complimentary international upgrade certificates annually. Airlines know these upgrade certificates are high value and are sometimes sold for cash. Airlines will status match you part way, but not all the way to top elite where you receive complimentary international upgrades to Business Class.

Secondly, Hyatt Gold Passport’s major competitor in the U.S. is likely Starwood Preferred Guest with a comparably major loyalty program and a bit more than twice as many hotel properties (around 1,050). Hyatt Gold Passport covers many major cities around the globe where SPG also has a presence.  Hyatt Gold Passport has blown away Starwood Preferred Guest over the past 18 months with generous benefits and high value promotions.

Personally, I know that the Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond benefit of complimentary breakfast has influenced my hotel choice in favor of a Hyatt rather than Starwood Hotel on a number of occasions since April 2009 when Gold Passport revamped its Diamond elite benefits.

I wonder how many frequent guests actually abandoned Starwood Hotels for Hyatt Hotels due to the generous Hyatt benefits?

The primary complaint about Hyatt Hotels is the small number of properties at fewer than 450 hotels worldwide. Business travelers want a major hotel loyalty program with widespread geographical properties. InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton and Marriott offer geographic flexibility. IHG has over 4,500 hotels, Hilton has over 3,600 and Marriott is close behind at around 3,400 hotels. Business travelers need a hotel loyalty program that will cover hotels in many places. 

The Hyatt Credit Card Effect

Another good reason to stop status matches is the current Hyatt credit card offer for two free nights with complimentary suite upgrade for Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members who become Hyatt Gold Passport Visa credit card members.

The Hyatt Crystal Ball

Hotels are predicting good increases in profits for 2011. Hotel stocks are on the rise. Analysts are currently saying BUY. Hyatt has big plans for New York City with several new properties scheduled to open in 2011 and 2012.

It will be interesting to see if Hyatt acquires another hotel brand before too long to bring its portfolio size in line with Starwood Hotels. High-end properties are in the works in many places like Amsterdam, Bermuda, and New York. Perhaps Hyatt’s strategy will be to remain focused on high-end hotels.

I do not lament the passing of Hyatt Gold Passport elite matches. Hyatt Gold Passport was overly generous since April 2009 in fast-tracking anyone who asked to join Gold Passport’s elite ranks.

Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum elite requires just 5 stays in a calendar year. Another unique feature of Hyatt Gold Passport are Platinum Extras certificates which provide additional benefit bonuses every 3rd hotel stay as you stay your way to Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond elite.  Other hotel loyalty programs do not offer little extras to reward your mid-tier loyalty as you earn your way to the top.

Hyatt Gold Passport has ran Stays Count Double promotions for part of the year for the past several years. Keep your eyes open for a 2011 offer.

Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond elite benefits link.

(Thanks to Lucky for posting about this change. I have looked over FlyerTalk many times this past week and the Hyatt thread title, “Hyatt Tier Matching Information” never caught my attention as having this significant program information.)

Presidential Suite, Hyatt Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco

3 Responses

  1. Let’s speculate: which brand – presumably unaffiliated right now – would you consider a take-over candidate? Everywhere I look I see the logos of one of the other big loyalty programs.

  2. I would expect an international hotel brand to be the most likely candidate. The U.S. hotel scene is not so great for investment.

    Really I do not have any brand in mind. There is just so much hotel investment money sitting around waiting for opportunities to buy.

    Europe seems like a prime market seeking cash. Are there any hotel chains for sale in Ireland, Portugal or Greece?

  3. All three countries are on my “to-do” list, so hopefully they’ll find something. In France and some other countries Accor seems to dominate at least the lower end market. I think overall Europe isn’t quite as “chainified” as the US (though it is clearly changing).

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