Hyatt will be making a couple of important changes to its loyalty program in 2018 and announced those changes earlier this morning. As of January 1, award redemptions will count toward the number of qualifying nights required for earning Word of Hyatt elite status. Hyatt will also be extending the expiration date of certain free night awards that are earned during the year.
Award Nights Count for Status
Originally it was only paid rates booked directly with Hyatt or certain travel providers that would count toward your elite status each year. When Gold Passport, the predecessor to Word of Hyatt, created points and cash awards a couple of years ago, those also counted. But it was clear that you had to pay something or your stay wouldn’t matter.
Now the range of qualifying nights is even greater. You book with just points, points and cash, or just cash and still earn qualifying nights toward World of Hyatt status.
This is important for two reasons. First, World of Hyatt made a couple of changes to the qualification criteria for status, raising the threshold to 60 nights from 50 for top-tier status and eliminating the opportunity to earn status based on stays. Only nights, base points, or meeting credits are considered. If award nights didn’t qualify, people wouldn’t be motivated to redeem their points and they’d lose value. Who wants to stay 60 qualifying nights AND still spend a few more nights away from home to put those points to use.
The other important reason is competitive. Nearly every other major loyalty program counts paid and award stays toward status. Hyatt is a smaller chain and doesn’t need to match everything, but this is an area where it often fell behind with critics.
Free Night Awards Last Longer
Another change coming next year is that the free nights you earn for hitting key thresholds will last longer. Already you can earn one free night at a Category 1-4 hotel when you stay 30 qualifying nights or earn 50,000 base points. You can earn another free night–this time good for Category 1-7–when you stay 60 qualifying nights or earn 100,000 base points.
Those nights currently expire 120 days after they were earned, which hasn’t been enough time for many people. Imagine I travel for work all winter and spring, avoid travel during the summer to spend time with my kids, and then travel again in the fall. There’s a good chance I could earn some nights in spring that are already gone by the time September rolls around.
Now free nights earned this way will expire after 180 days, giving you almost six months to use them.
I would still prefer to see them last a whole year. Many people have had similar complaints with upgrades and similar awards. So many of the rewards offered by World of Hyatt are expiring early, and it’s not clear why awards can’t persist as long as one’s elite status is valid.