Hyatt sent an email to all members of its Gold Passport program last night announcing what they called an “award chart update”, but what amounts to a large scale devaluation of its reward program.
Hyatt used to offer an extraordinary value in top-tier redemptions, so much so that a room in its best Park Hyatt and Andaz hotels could be had for 22,000 points. Unfortunately, the categories and point requirements are now set to change in January 2014.
According to the new program rules, the exclusive Park Hyatt hotels in Beaver Creek, Milan, Paris, Sydney, Tokyo and Zurich will now be Category 7 hotels (a new category) and will require 30,000 points for a room per night. The point requirements for Category 5 and 6 hotels are increasing as well, as are the requirements for upgrading to Regency Club rooms or Suites. Additionally, some hotels are shifting between categories (with more moving up a category than down).
This entire change has many of the blogs that tell readers how to scam the point earning process abuzz. Many of them are telling their readers to contact Hyatt and Chase to voice their displeasure. I personally find it disingenuous and troubling that people who have been taking advantage of the point earning process are complaining about the decline in value of something that they have not earned. They are essentially asking for more and more for free, instead of understanding that their manipulation of the system is forcing Hyatt to follow the path of other hotel and airline chains and to devalue their programs.
In reality, the people who are truly losing value as a result of the devaluation are those loyal Hyatt customers who have earned their points through their patronage. Hyatt, like its peers, is increasingly moving towards rewarding status to its most active patrons, and towards devaluing what it provided for past patronage.
There is, however, one bright spot here - even though the current devaluation is disappointing, the Hyatt rewards program still provides the best value, together with Starwood, in the hotel sector. Their hotel product, especially at the top-tier hotels, remains in a class above its peers.
Most will therefore find that not only staying in Hyatt hotels, but continuing to use the Hyatt card, and Chase Sapphire and Chase Ink cards (transferring the points to Hyatt), remains one of the most valuable opportunities in the credit card travel and reward space.