At What Point Is Award Night Blocking No Longer A Glitch?

I’m a big fan of Hyatt Gold Passport. Along with Starwood Preferred Guest, it’s one of my two preferred hotel chains. So when I notice negatives with Hyatt or Starwood, it’s often simply a function of me dealing with them most, so also being most likely to notice their shortcomings, at times.

One of my favorite things about Hyatt Gold Passport is that I find that they’re the best at managing expectations — they under promise and over deliver, in my experience. Hyatt is one of the smallest “major” hotel chains, so in many ways their loyalty program is what keeps me loyal to their hotels, since they don’t have anywhere close to the global footprint of Hilton, IHG, or Marriott.

But there’s no denying that over the past several months we’ve seen some inconsistencies in the Hyatt Gold Passport experience. I genuinely don’t think these inconsistencies are intentionally being done on a program level, but rather individual hotels are getting “creative” on an individual level, and perhaps there’s not enough being done to ensure they’re cooperating.

So what kind of “questionable” activities have we seen from individual hotels?

Anyway, these are isolated incidents, in particular the last two. Though I’ve noticed basic rooms only being offered in packages at least a handful of times, and have been denied a Diamond Suite Upgrade on a Points + Cash rate more times than I can count (though after pushing back a bit I’ve always been able to make it work).

But here’s an interesting situation at one of the most popular properties that savvy Gold Passport members redeem points at — the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome. And what’s going on here is clear as day… it’s not really a grey area.

Simply put, on many days the Park Hyatt Paris isn’t showing any free night availability, even though basic rooms are available for sale. This isn’t just a few dates, and this isn’t just a website glitch.

Park-Hyatt-Paris

The standard rooms at this hotel are the Park Twin and Park Queen. However, on many dates (particularly in October) those rooms are available, yet the website doesn’t show award space.

Park-Hyatt-Paris-Blocking

I assumed this was a website glitch, so called the Diamond line to inquire about space. The agent said “hmm, it looks like a standard room isn’t available. Let me see how much a Park Queen would cost.” I responded with “oh, I thought the Park Queen was the standard room at this hotel.”

After being placed on hold she confirmed that the Park Queen was in fact the standard room, and put me on a further hold to see if she could open up the space. After about five minutes she came back and said she was able to “force” me into the room.

This isn’t a big deal for those in the know, who are aware that they can redeem their points as long as a standard room is available for sale. But presumably:

  • Most people assume that the website is accurate when it comes to displaying award space, so would assume there’s no award availability when that’s what the website says.
  • Most agents probably wouldn’t proactively offer to open space unless prompted to do so.

Bottom line

Ultimately these are still isolated incidents, though they certainly seem to become more and more common with Hyatt. Historically Hyatt has hands down done the best job of any hotel chain when it comes to getting individual properties to “buy into” the loyalty program and comply with published benefits. And while I think that’s still the case, situations like these are disappointing.

I’ll reach out to Gold Passport and see if they can clarify what’s going on here.

Have you experienced instances where Hyatt hasn’t offered award availability despite standard rooms being available?

Comments

  1. I’ve been noticing that A LOT lately with Hyatt. Properties like the PH Vendome and Andaz Maui show no award availability on my dates, even though regular rooms are available. Reading your article just pisses me off. I didn’t think of calling them directly… I’ll be sure to do so on the future.

  2. Don’t stay there. People there treats “free night” redemption customers AND those who booked on 3rd party websites really badly.

  3. I had a similar but slightly different experience at PH New York. Suite was not available to book on points but was open for points+cash.

  4. Ben,

    Hyatt Newport RI. We have the best time there but if you try to book X months out nothing is available on points. But, if you try and book a week out you find tons of availability. I can only imagine as the date draws closer they realize the rooms won’t sell and offer them for points.

  5. I called Hyatt today, expecting to use the wisdom I’ve gleaned reading your blog, and found out that there weren’t even any revenue rates available for my dates! Think they’d bump a paying customer for someone with Chase nights? 😀

  6. I just forced the agent on the phone to allow me to use points for Miami Centric the other day. It was not shown online other than Daily Rate available but no points available. At first she said it wasn’t available for that date and I had to invoke that Gold Passport program allows award bookings as long as Hyatt Daily Rate available. She put me on hold and came back with a change of tone and allowed me the award booking.

  7. I had this happen with the PH Vendome a couple months back. I reached out via social media and they were able to book me… not quite sure why they have this “feature” but it is quite annoying… maybe it’s to cut down on speculative bookings by making them harder?

    FDW

  8. @Lucky – Is it true that the resort properties in Las Vegas can have black out dates because they are not Hyatt properties but are instead just loosely affiliated? I tried booking at Aria and MGM Grand over NYE and they said they are able to black them out because they are a resort property.

  9. HYatt corporate team should do a permanent fix. Just talking to one individual o r 5 or 10 won’t work.

    They should reach out to all hyatt properties anywhere in the world and tell them they can’t play this game and make it a rule. Only than this will be taken cared of

  10. Hyatt Place New Orleans does this. No standard rooms. They sell them with “free parking” included at a more expensive rate, so no free nigths (for a 2016 stay!) I was able to get an agent to contact the property and tell them to knock it off and so they forced me into the reservation.

    It’s getting a bit out of hand with this stuff. Also hotels playing games with the points awarded on base rates. Seen it happen in at least 4 properties the past 3-4 months.

  11. I hate having to do the workaround.

    Try to book a single night (Friday or Saturday) for a weekend trip to the beach at the Hyatt Place Dewey Beach – no availability on points, yes with cash. Try to book two nights and rooms for points shows up. Sneaky-ass two night minimum! Fine; I’ll book two nights and call in to have the check out date adjusted.

  12. Hyatt no longer has a loyalty program: they have a points program. Since they started with a credit card, points have been devalued, and almost all of the benefits at the platinum level have vanished. This might be great if you play the points game, but the effect on my partners and I has simply become “no loyalty program = no loyalty.” The spreadsheet ahows that it makes more sense for us to book the room we want at the hotel we want, and disregard any promises. We’re staying in better hotels and spending less money. The effect on Hyatt? FY2013 165 nights. FY2014 0 nights.

  13. The same shenanigans with the Hyatt in Baltimore in the off-season when it was nearly empty (according to the front desk when I checked in). When I called in, the agent acted surprised. With all of the above people all having the same issue, it can’t be a surprise to anyone.

  14. I had this problem as far back as last December. Tried booking 2 free nights at the Vendome or PH Milan, stymied December all the way through January.

  15. The problem, of course, with this approach (i.e. calling HGP to have the mother ship castigate the child) is that it’s nothing more than a Pyrrhic victory. At some point, if the hotel wants to play these games–and perpetuate it’s apparent dislike for award bookings–all they have to do is reclassify the room type. Reporting the hotel to HGP only furthers this inevitable outcome.

    Between you and Gary, though, neither of you has answered the more important question:

    Assuming occupancy of below 90-95%, the hotel doesn’t lose anything by offering rooms as their costs and then some are covered by the loyalty program. Now, assuming occupancy above 90-95%, the hotel gets reimbursed at the ADR or some such other metric, so there they also lose nothing. In fact, they gain considerably.

    So what’s the motivation to play these games? Fill up enough of your hotel with awards and all of the sudden each booking is reimbursed at ADR! And even if you don’t succeed, it’s not like the hotel loses.

    Makes no sense.

  16. I wrote about this very thing for TPG back in February: http://thepointsguy.com/2015/02/what-to-do-when-your-hotel-doesnt-follow-its-own-rules/.

    This has NOTHING to do with Diamond vs. no status. The Terms & Conditions of HGP indicate that this is not allowed. If the first rep does not budge (like mine), escalate! I quoted the T&C and the manager with whom I spoke contacted the hotel on my behalf. Within 24 hours, I had a five-night award stay booked.

    Great post Lucky!

  17. Had a similar experience at the Park Hyatt Tokyo a few weeks ago. Basic Park Twin rooms were showing up online but the website to use the credit card nights was showing no availability for those dates. Called up HGP and the operator was able to quickly book them on the spot, no further questions or prompting required.

  18. Website at PH Vendome showed no availability yesterday, called and two minutes later got room. Kind of a hassle, usually business wants to force customers to websites to cut costs. Apparently not here.

  19. Ben –

    Headed for a 4 night stay in mid-Feb to Paris. I plan to absolutely spend a few nights at the PH Vendome.

    If this property is bookable with cash + points do you think that’s a better deal than straight out points?

    Second question…is it worth staying at any of the other Paris Hyatt hotels for different character, service, and/or location benefits?

    Thanks!

  20. @ Nate — If Points + Cash is available it’s absolutely worth it, in my opinion. I think this is by far the best Hyatt option in Paris, personally.

  21. Wanted to thank you so much for all this great info you post. Thanks to all your tips I’ve been able to use HGP points + cash to book 4 nights at the Hyatt Hotel du Louvre for the same price as a bnb in Paris ( did have to call 800 customer service to book) and was able to book business class/ first class RT on KLM from West Coast using Alaska Airlines miles. Very excited to be getting a better travel experience since finding your blog. Love learning something new every day & following you now on Instagram. Thanks again! 🙂

  22. Lucky,

    BTW…. Meant to say I was able to book this travel just this month for height of summer season June – July 2016 – feeling pretty lucky myself ! 🙂

  23. It seems like sometimes hotel is playing room type gamesmanship – for lack of a better word.

    I just tried to book at Hyatt Regency Vancouver for Labor Day weekend, and on Saturday, there are no ‘standard’ rooms. One of the available room types are ‘Balcony rooms’ which are the exact same room as standard room, with a token balcony. Same size, same layout, same amenities. I called the Gold Passport concierge, attempting to get help for them to open the rooms, but no dice.

    I should point out though, that generally Hyatt has been really good. I use their program a lot, and it’s been really good. There was one bad experience at a Hyatt House, and I left a note for the manager. He ended up refunding 100% of my points back, with a personalized letter of apology.

  24. I just tried to book a 6 night stay using points and 2 award nights at the Andaz Maui and even though it shows online that the garden king and garden queen rooms are available for points stays all 6 nights, the reps on the phone told me that (as I understood it) the points category is different than the award night category there. One of the reps I was talking to even said “it shouldn’t [be that way]” but while I was on hold and he was looking into it I was disconnected 🙁

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