Our Reader Question today is seeking an alternative to SPG and the target of our U.S. based reader is World of Hyatt so would this be a good choice?
According to the hundreds of messages and emails we received over the last few months there is a large customer base of current Starwood customers out there that became so disgusted by the way the Marriott-SPG merger that they seek to jump ship to another program.
Kenneth from Salt Lake City writes:
I’m a Lifetime SPG Gold member (310 lt nights) with Platinum status. On average I stay 50-60 nights a year at hotels. You think Hyatt would be a better choice for me? I’m willing to do Hilton too but Marriott is out after all this.
I think when it comes to top tier status with the big chains then they don’t differ much from each other in terms of requirements.
The easiest is still Hilton Honors with either 30 stays, 60 nights, or 120,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year. Hyatt and Marriott have now switched to full nights requirement even though SPG members can still re-qualify with 25 stays until the end of the year if they stay at Starwood legacy brands.
World of Hyatt requires 60 nights for first time Globalist qualification and 55 nights each year thereafter. That is no piece of cake especially with Hyatt’s limited global footprint which is however not so much of a problem if ones travel focuses on the U.S. and Asia.
The big downside is that Hyatt doesn’t outright match status at the moment even though there were isolated reports where people were offered Explorist status via Twitter. So without having top tier status and lounge access that’s a pretty long way to reach 60 nights unless you stay at low level properties such as Hyatt House or Hyatt Place that don’t offer much of a Globalist treatment to begin with. Likewise when staying at Park Hyatt and having a rate that includes breakfast where you would miss out of a suite upgrade but anything else would be pretty much the same.
There are a couple fast tracks to Hyatt status, one being if you work for a major corporation Hyatt recently ran a fast track Globalist promotion (I wrote about it here). Another tool that is helpful is the new Hyatt Credit Card which now comes with 5 elite qualifying nights and another 2 for each $5000 spent. This can add up fast especially as award nights are now elite qualifying as well.
Hilton offers permanent Diamond Status with the new American Express Hilton Aspire card for US$450 per year – the easiest and probably cheapest way to maintain permanent top tier hotel status. Hilton currently also offers a generous status match promotion.
It’s hard to recommend one single program as an alternative as each chain has different characteristics and footprint. Hyatt is also known as a more pricey alternative compared to Hilton so one has to include that in the considerations.
Whenever there are changes to a loyalty program many members are getting riled up without letting the changes sink in and then re-assess. I was guilty of this as well when Hyatt announced the changes to their program but in it’s current form the program works much better for me than before, especially with the changes made to the credit card.
As often documented here, the Starwood – Marriott merger has been undertaken in a rather unprofessional way and the problems are still ongoing. I wouldn’t let that discourage me to stay at certain SPG properties in the future and maybe pause for a while to see if they get their act together at some point.