I am finally getting around to writing about The Big Welcome Back from Hyatt Gold Passport when I see Gary Leff is giving away free Hyatt nights at View from the Wing blog. The only thing better than a free night after two hotel stays is two free nights with no hotel stays requirement. Simply leave a comment, by noon eastern time, Sunday, April 25 on Gary’s Hyatt Free Nights post and cross your fingers for good luck.
One thing to point out about Hyatt’s free internet for Platinum and Diamond elites is the hotel may only offer one access mode for free, wired or wireless access, and you have to pay to use the other one. I found this to be the case at a couple of hotels where I wanted wireless, but only wired was free. Fortunately at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco my room location was sufficiently close to access the Regency Club wireless internet from my room.
Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) launched free internet access for top elite Platinummembers as an in-hotel benefit. Simply accept internet charges when logging on at the hotel and they will be removed from the bill for Platinum elites. This benefit is available worldwide at all SPG hotels offering internet. Public space and meeting room internet is not covered in this benefit and terms vary by hotel for these spaces.
Reaching SPG platinum elite membership requires 50 nights or 25 stays in a calendar year. SPG typically offers an 8 to 12 week window each year with a stays count double promotion making Platinum status available in as few as 13 stays which can be as few as 13 hotel nights.
The Big Welcome Back from Hyatt Gold Passport
“We want to welcome you back before you readjust to your time zone.”
I picked up the 6”x11” card from Hyatt Gold Passport at my mailbox yesterday.
Choose to earn a free night or 5,000 Hyatt Gold passport bonus points after every two stays through June 30, 2010.
Now just decide where you want to go. Start earning. Then, enjoy your reward. Because the only thing better than welcoming you, is welcoming you back.
- Register today at goldpassport.com for the reward you want – free nights or bonus points
- Stay at any Hyatt worldwide through June 30, 2010
- Provide your Hyatt Gold Passport account number
Earn as many rewards as you can and then redeem them at any Hyatt worldwide. Enjoy your free night awards with no blackout dates between April 1 and August 31, 2010. Or, enjoy your bonus points anytime toward free nights, upgrades, or miles, with no expiration.
Why is Hyatt working so hard to attract members with giveaways?
I am not actually referring to Gary Leff’s free nights promotion; rather, why is Hyatt giving instant elite membership for the asking and top-elite diamond for just 15 nights? Why is Hyatt Gold Passport offering a free night at a Hyatt brand hotel anywhere to a member with two stays at any Hyatt hotel anywhere? These are high value giveaways.
Recently, several articles have passed by me and together they kind of paint a picture of the high stakes game for hotel revenue management combined with brand name recognition and high value customers.
Max Starkov is chief e-business strategist at Hospitality e-Business Strategies, a business which focuses on hotel direct online channel strategies. Direct online channels are the hotel brand websites. For Hyatt hotels this means the company booking site at Hyatt.com, the loyalty program booking site at goldpassport.com, and individual hotel booking sites like highlandsinn.hyatt.com.
Max Starkov’s recent article, “Not All Internet Bookings are Created Equal,” analyzed the proportion of hotel chain bookings made via direct online channels vs. indirect channels like online travel agencies – Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline. Overall for the hotel industry the proportion of room bookings made via the internet is estimated to be around 45% of all hotel bookings in 2010.
That means fewer than 50% of hotel rooms booked are via the internet. The top 30 hotel brands actually have a higher proportion of bookings made via the internet with 54.2%. In 2009 about 71% of internet bookings are direct channels and 29% indirect channels. In 2007 about 76% of internet bookings were direct channel bookings. Basically, the hotels are losing ground to the online travel agencies for room bookings.
Why do direct bookings matter, and, what does this have to do with Hyatt’s promotion giveaways?
GDS systems used by travel agents book about 23.6% of hotel rooms in 2009 compared to 31.3% in for the top 30 hotel brands. The number of hotel rooms booked by GDS dropped by 25% in four years. Over the same time period the number of phone bookings also dropped from 31.3% in 2006 to 22.2% for 2009.
Basically there is a smaller share of room bookings happening via GDS systems and the phone. Internet bookings are growing and the hotel brands are losing share in the booking channels used by customers for buying hotel rooms.
The truly remarkable part to me is the large number of guests staying at the top 30 hotel brands who are not receiving any hotel chain loyalty benefits due to booking via Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, etc. Even more amazing perhaps is the fact these guests probably did not pay any less than the rates available on the hotel’s own websites when not booking on an opaque site like Priceline or Hotewire where the hotel is not known in advance.
There certainly are some lower rates to be found through online travel agencies like Orbitz and Expedia. I book about 20% of my hotel stays through successful Best Rate Guarantee claims on the hotel’s website when I find a lower room rate at an online travel agency. I receive the low rate plus additional rate discounts or bonuses and I still receive all my hotel loyalty program benefits.
Starkov’s article goes on to show indirect bookings of hotel stays cost the hotel about 8 times more money. As the travel recession is now in the middle of its second year, hoteliers have pushed more inventory over to online travel agencies and the OTAs have gained share in the reservations market.
In my opinion I think Hyatt is pulling in a higher proportion of customers by giving elite status and free nights. You only earn these benefits through direct bookings. I do not have any data, but I assume Hyatt has seen a proportional shift to direct bookings after a solid year of high value promotions and complimentary elite status. Hyatt has loads of capital to invest. Hyatt has a credit card partner in the works to launch the hotel chain’s first cobranded credit card. Hyatt is maintaining high prices at its full service hotels.
I just hope after the Hyatt credit card comes around, the elite ranks have grown, direct bookings have grown, and the chain expands, perhaps with a new brand acquisition or two, that the program still offers free nights. I have a hunch though.
Faster Free Nights is what many of us who have been around Hyatt Gold Passport for much of the past decade refer to the free night after every two stays periodic promotion. In past years this promotion was commonly tied to using a MasterCard when paying for the hotel stays. I wonder is Hyatt really promoting the two stays for a free night concept heavily over the past year to tie in their new credit card with future free night promotion offers?
I would not be at all surprised to see 2011 require the Hyatt card be used for the free night after two stays promotion. Wait and see.
Back to the Big Welcome Back.
Seriously, this is a great promotion from Hyatt Gold Passport. Two stays anywhere and earn one free night anywhere and all summer to use it. Huge leverage potential makes booking unnecessary hotel stays totally worthwhile.
In the San Francisco Bay Area there are several Hyatt Place and Summerfield Suites hotels with weekend rates $80 or less. Eight miles down the road from me is the Hyatt Highlands Inn with summer room rates typically $400+ per night. You do the math. I have.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my hotel stays at the Hyatt Highlands Inn.