Pros and Cons of Hyatt Gold Passport

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Here are the updated pros and cons of the Hyatt Gold Passport program. There has been some changes this year and some of the enhancements, although already announced, will take place in 2014.

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What are your opinions of the pros and cons of the Hyatt Gold Passport? Please leave your comments below.

You can access Hyatt’s webpage for Gold Passport here.

Pros of Hyatt Gold Passport

– Four suite upgrades to Diamond members

– Breakfast for Diamond members always

– Easy program to understand

– Relatively good coverage in the United States

– Ability to earn points for dining & spa when not staying

– Partnership with MGM’s Mlife (New)

– Using points for club & suite upgrades (Was negatively enhanced but still positive)

– Awards for rooms/club rooms/suites

– Diamond amenity of points in North America & Now Worldwide (Extended to worldwide)

– Uniform lower end properties

– Generally good Diamond treatment

– Benefits apply for ALL bookings even when not eligible for stay credit/points

– Club & Bed type guarantee for Diamonds

– Reasonably priced top & low awards

– Points + Cash awards that count towards elite status (New)

– No blackout dates

– Lifetime elite status

– Stay certificates

Cons of Hyatt Gold Passport

– No space available suite upgrades to Suites

– Really small chain

– International foot print very limited

– Limited award options no cash + points, no discount for multiple nights, no award savers etc (Cash & points introduced in 2014)

– Essentially only Diamond status worthwhile

– Diamond customer service not good

– International price point

– Diamond Amenity only in North America (Now worldwide)

– Rates which qualify for point based upgrades at non-resort and resort properties

– No Diamond amenity choice outside of North America (Now you can choose)

– No cash back (Cashback now available)

– Limited promotions

– Confusing brands Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt, Hyatt House & Hyatt Place

– Unstable website

– Lack of discount programs

– Problem resolution lacking

– Award stays don’t count toward status

– Lifetime elite status requirement

– No elite guarantees

– Points expire (New)

– No airline partnership (New)

hyatt-gold-passport-pros-cons-brands

Pros of Hyatt Gold Passport

Four suite upgrades to Diamond members

Diamond members get four suite upgrades yearly and upon qualifying for the first time. These can be used for stays up to 7 nights and don’t require you to book anything else than a qualifying rate.

Breakfast for Diamond members always

This is the only program that absolutely always guarantees a breakfast at all properties for Diamond members and you don’t have to choose it as an amenity.

Easy program to understand

The program is rather uncomplicated and thus easy to understand. There are not many earning options and burning points are limited as well.

Relatively good coverage in the United States

After buying Amerisuites and Summerfield suites, the Hyatt’s coverage in United States is acceptable.

Ability to earn points for dining & spa when not staying

You can earn points for dining & spa expenses when not staying at properties.

Partnership with MGM’s Mlife (New)

Hyatt and MGM announced partnership, where Gold Passport members get matching Mlife status and can earn stay/nights credits and points towards their Gold Passport membership. MGM Mlife members got matching benefits when staying at Hyatt properties. Read more about this partnership here.

Using points for club & suite upgrades (Negatively enhanced)

You can use points for club & suite upgrades. 3000 points for Club and 6000 points for suite upgrade per day for up to 4 days. Requires you to book a daily rate at non-resort properties and a view room and resort properties.

The point requirement for upgrades used to be up to four days at the base rate. Now it is PER DAY.

Awards for rooms/club rooms/suites

You can redeem for regular rooms and club rooms right on Hyatt.com. You need to call to book a suite using points. At lower tier properties, the number of points required between a room and a club room is only 2000 to 4000 points.

Diamond amenity in North America (Extended to worldwide)

The Diamond amenity choice in North America tends to be very good. You can choose between a food/beverage amenity like a bottle of red wine and a cheese plate or 1000 bonus points. These are in addition to club access, if one exists, or breakfast.

Uniform lower end properties

Hyatt entered the lower end market by purchasing Amerisuites and Summerfield suites brands. Especially all the former Amerisuites that are now called Hyatt Places are identical room wise.

Generally good Diamond treatment

Diamond members tend to be treated quite well at all Hyatt’s full service properties.

Benefits apply for ALL bookings even when not eligible for stay credit/points

Hyatt is one of the few chains, where all the benefits apply regardless of how the stay was booked. All the benefits apply even on Priceline or Hotwire stays.

Club & Bed type guarantee for Diamonds

You will get set amount of points if the Club lounge is close plus a full breakfast or if your bed type is not what you booked.

Reasonably priced top & low awards

The category 7 awards are capped at 30K points per night and the lower end 5K points per night at category 1. The lower end and the higher end tend to be rather reasonable. I do have a problem with some of the awards in the middle, however.

Note that the higher end awards went up from 22K to 30K per night, but I would still say that these are ok value.

Points + Cash awards that count towards elite status (New)

Hyatt has announced Points + Cash awards that are available in 2014. Unlike regular awards, this Points + Cash will count as a qualifying stay. Seems that Hyatt Gold Passport would rather have people redeeming for Points + Cash than points. Maybe the property gets just the cash amount and the Gold Passport gets to write down the points liability?

This award type is not going to be always available.

No blackout dates

If standard room is available for purchase, it is available using points as well. This is very clear and haven’t seen any problems.

Lifetime elite status

Hyatt has a lifetime Diamond status that is based on the number of membership years and number of base points earned.

Stay certificates

These are being didcontinued after devalued earlier in the year. (Read more here and here)

Hyatt offers stay certificates that you can use to save on accommodation cost.

hyatt-gold-passport-pros-cons-rooms

No space available suite upgrades to Suites per terms and conditions

The terms and conditions only mention best available room that Diamond members are entitled to. Quite a few properties do upgrade Diamond members beyond what is required by the terms and conditions, but there are hotels that are following the T&C’s to the letter.

Really small chain

Hyatt only has around 500 properties worldwide. This is less than half the number of Starwood properties. Marriott, Hilton and IHG has eight to ten times the number of properties compared to Hyatt.

International foot print very limited

Hyatt has less than 125 properties outside of North America. The chain is absent from many international markets.

Limited award options; no cash + points, no discount for multiple nights, no award savers etc

While at the same time the program is easy to understand, the award options are limited. There are no cash & points (Hilton, IHG & Starwood), no discount for multiple nights awards (Hilton, Starwood & Marriott) or award savers (IHG & Marriott).

Hyatt has now introduced Cash & Points awards that are available from 2014. Read more here.

Essentially only Diamond status worthwhile

Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum basically gives you a complimentary internet access and that’s it.

Diamond customer service not good

There used to be a dedicated Diamond customer service line that was manned with customer service agents that only handled Diamonds. This was dismantled couple of years ago. Now, there is a still Diamond customer service phone number and it might get you through faster, but there are no longer Diamond customer service representatives.

Hyatt has supposedly cross trained the reservations agents to be able to handle customer service and Diamond calls as well. For the most part, I think that this is ok as long as you don’t have any complicated issues.

International price point

Hyatt’s properties outside of the North America tend to be Grand and Park Hyatt’s at relatively high price point. Hyatt, for the most part, is missing the mid-priced options internationally.

Diamond Amenity only in North America

This is now available worldwide.

Internationally, the Diamond amenity points or selection is completely missing. You cannot choose between points or amenity, and there is no choice what the amenity is. My Diamond amenity has been as bad as three green apples.

Rates which qualify for point based upgrades at non-resort and resort properties

You can use points for upgrades, but you need to pay a Hyatt Daily Rate at non-resort properties or View/deluxe room at resort ones. You cannot use a discounted rate.

No cash back

Cashback is now available for Hyatt stays as well.

You cannot get cash back for booking Hyatt hotels using online cash back sites like Ebates or MrRebates.

Limited promotions

Hyatt used to have excellent promotions, but nowadays not so. Right now there is no Hyatt promotion going on and they haven’t even announced a next one.

Confusing brand structure Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Park Hyatt, Hyatt House & Hyatt Place etc.

Hyatt only uses other name than Hyatt for Andaz properties. All the other brands are tied to the Hyatt “mother” brand for the good or the bad. All the other major hotel chains have distinct brand identities like Sheraton vs St Regis.

Unstable website

Hyatt has the most unstable corporate website that I have ever come across. United’s website used to be bad, but even then it wasn’t down as often as Hyatt’s. It is not uncommon for the website for being down for hours on Monday afternoon US time for “scheduled maintenance”.

Lack of discount programs

There are quite a few ways to save on Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group and Starwood stays using number of discount problems that they offer. Hyatt is really missing on these.

Problem resolution

I have never had a very good outcome after contacting the “consumer affairs” for problem resolution. If your hotel fails to adhere to the standard or otherwise is unable to meet the guest’s need, the corporate should be able to resolve the issue expediently.

Award stays don’t count toward status

Hyatt’s main competitors Starwood, Hilton and now also IHG counts these, but Hyatt doesn’t. I would imagine that Hyatt will change this in 2014 or 2015.

Lifetime elite status requirement

Hyatt’s requirement of $200K Hyatt spend that is credited towards Hyatt points is onerous compared to Starwood or Marriott.

No elite guarantees

Hyatt is one of the few chains that doesn’t penalize properties for walking i.e. Diamond members. Both Marriott and Hilton have very clear procedures in case their higher status member is walked. Hyatt doesn’t.

Points expire (New)

Hyatt Gold Passport points didn’t used to expire at all. Hyatt has now introduced expiry after 24 months of inactivity. Read more here.

No airline partnership (New)

Both Starwood and Marriott has introduced partnerships with airline for some matched benefits. Starwood launched Crossover Rewards with Delta (read more here) and Marriott has RewardsPlus partnership with United (read more here).

Conclusion

I used to stay a lot at the Hyatt properties and have spent more than two years of my life sleeping in Hyatt beds. In 2012, I let my Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond status to lapse due to lackluster promotions compared to other loyalty programs. But I made it back to Diamond this fall, when the global promotion was combine-able with the bonus offer for Atlanta area properties.

There have been some positive and negative changes to the program in the past 12 months, but I would say that the positive ones slightly overweight the negatives.

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