C’mon Hyatt Gold Passport, You’re Better Than This…

I’ve long been a fan of Hyatt Gold Passport. Historically I think they’ve offered the most rewarding hotel loyalty program, and most importantly, they’ve under promised and over delivered. That’s something that’s important to me, since I don’t remember the last time I’ve been disappointed in elite recognition as a Hyatt Diamond member.

Now, Hyatt Gold Passport will be going away in a few months time, as “World of Hyatt” takes over as Hyatt’s new loyalty program. The new program has drawn mixed reactions, and perhaps in the miles & points community the reaction has been especially negative.

Personally I see why Hyatt is changing their program, but I do have some concerns. The biggest new benefit that Hyatt is adding is unlimited suite upgrades, subject to availability. It’s a big benefit, and also a big point of concern for many, as we don’t yet know what that will look like in practice. Will all standard suites be available for upgrade? If it’s available at check-in, is the Diamond member entitled to it, or is it at the hotel’s discretion? How will hotels be trained on this new benefit?

The point is, Hyatt Gold Passport has long been great, and that’s largely thanks to the stellar job they’ve done delivering on their promised benefits. With World of Hyatt there are more concerns in that regard.

However, unfortunately even pre-World of Hyatt, Gold Passport is having a hard time delivering on their promised benefits, as I learned today. This specific issue is minor, but is reflective of an overall trend I’ve noticed with the program.

Park-Hyatt-Vienna - 15
Park Suite at Park Hyatt Vienna

Applying Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrades on Points + Cash bookings

One of the best perks of being a Hyatt Diamond member are the four confirmed Diamond Suite Upgrades you get each year, each of which can be used to confirm a suite at the time of booking for up to seven nights. These are valid on revenue stays as well as Points + Cash stays. The best part is that they can be used as long as a standard suite is available for sale, so there are no capacity controls.

However, for a long time I genuinely thought that Points + Cash bookings only had access to a subset of the suite inventory, since I had so many phone agents tell me that there wasn’t Diamond Suite Upgrade availability if using Points + Cash, but that the inventory was only available with revenue stays. Many readers reported similar problems.

View from the Wing corrected me, and followed up with Hyatt, and they said that’s not the case:

To clarify, Diamond Suite Upgrade inventory (standard suites) is not capacity controlled. The same Diamond Suite inventory is available whether a Hyatt Gold Passport member is booking a Hyatt rate or points + cash.

I’m usually pretty good at this whole loyalty program thing, so the fact that so many agents were misinformed that I thought it reflected a policy should say a lot.

Andaz-West-Hollywood-Hotel-11
Suite at Andaz West Hollywood

My experience redeeming a Diamond Suite Upgrade Award today

I’ve only redeemed one Diamond Suite Upgrade Award so far this year, and that was for a revenue booking. Today I tried to apply one to a Points + Cash booking. The hotel had standard suites available.

I called up Hyatt Gold Passport, and the associate informed me that there wasn’t suite upgrade availability if using Points + Cash, but if I wanted to switch to a paid stay she could confirm it.

I hung up and called back, and had an associate who told me the same thing. This time around I didn’t hang up, but rather wanted to get more information, not because I wanted to be rude or argumentative, but rather because I genuinely wanted to find out what the issue was. I assumed she wasn’t actually to blame, but rather that it reflected a lack of training.

I specifically asked her if she was suggesting that Points + Cash stays had access to different suite inventory than revenue stays. She said yes. I told her that specifically contradicts what we had recently been told in writing by Gold Passport management, and that I’m sure she could understand my frustration in how inconsistently this benefit is being delivered.

She said she’d call the hotel and ask if they could make an exception and override it. Here’s the thing — I don’t want an exception, and I don’t want to feel like they’re doing me a favor. I’m loyal to a hotel group in exchange for a set of benefits, and I just want them to deliver on those.

I told her that wasn’t necessary, but asked if she could transfer me to a supervisor. She transferred me over, and that agent confirmed the upgrade without batting an eyelash.

I asked her to clarify whether the previous agent was just misinformed, or what caused the inconsistency in information. She said she wasn’t sure.

Grand-Hyatt-Hong-Kong-Grand-Suite - 12
Grand Suite at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

Bottom line

My intent here isn’t to rag on individual agents, but rather to share how frustrating it is that Hyatt Gold Passport is delivering on some of their promises so poorly. This problem was so widespread last year that many Diamond members (myself included) were convinced there was actually a subset of inventory for Points + Cash bookings, which wasn’t the case.

A Gold Passport representative said they’d follow up with phone agents on this to make sure everyone was properly trained. Yet somehow I just tried to apply a Diamond Suite Upgrade Award for the first time this year on a Points + Cash booking, and two agents in a row told me it wasn’t possible.

I’m not sure what to believe here. I think Gold Passport management is being honest with their intentions, and I don’t believe any of the phone representatives are being malicious. Instead it just seems like there’s a lack of communication that’s causing this problem. The fact that this hasn’t been addressed after the issue has been around for so long is really disappointing.

Fortunately I knew it was possible, and was persistent. But how many Diamond members are trying to redeem their Diamond Suite Upgrade Awards in such a way, are told they can’t do so, and then give up? I’m guessing that represents a vast majority of Diamond members.

If Hyatt can’t train their relatively few Diamond phone agents on the basic rules of their confirmable suite upgrades, how are we supposed to have any faith in the complimentary suite upgrades working as promised across hundreds of hotels around the world?

Has anyone else received similar misinformation from Gold Passport phone agents lately?

Comments

  1. I just ran into this exact issue a few days ago trying to apply DSU to a points + cash stay at PH Beijing. The agent told me the DSU is only available for revenue stay but not p+c. It seems to me this is more like agents being trained to handle things this way than mis-informed.

  2. This is happening to me with the Park Hyatt Dubai currently. This time the agents have even contacted the hotel and the hotel is the one saying they will not allow it unless if it is a paid rate not p+c.

  3. i too dealt with a couple of diamond agents who had no idea what they was doing. having said that, i think hyatt customer service is, by far, the best in the industry.
    too bad, i can’t make the cut after next year.

  4. As someone that’s works in the hotel business I can tell you this is a training issue. Reservation agents are normally poorly trained and give the directive that if problems arise to shift blame to the property or managment. This is not to discount this problem but it’s sometime hard to justify training for such a low level employee.

  5. The Hyatt Regency Aruba pulled this nonsense with me earlier this year. After being denied DSU, I called Gold Passport and requested the agent call the property directly which they did and property also denied the upgrade citing separate inventory. Eventually got it resolved by contacting twitter team and having them inform property of HGP program guidelines.

  6. This happens to me so frequently that I now contact the hotel directly and ask them to apply the Diamond Suite Upgrade for me.

  7. I think this is part of a larger issue with Hyatt loyalty program. It shouldn’t be this difficult. You shouldn’t need to know all the fine print, and have to ask to speak to a supervisor to get what is promised. Loyalty is about being rewarded – things made easy, and you made feel special – not having to steel yourself to do battle.

    I have been a loyal Hyatt customer for about 12 years – but since the last changes, I’ve become more of a hotel brand whore – I take whatever is the best deal – and in most cases for me that’s been as a paid IHG ambassador member. The application of upgrades is variable (I’m talking about you Grand Stanford Hong Kong ) but sometimes is exceptional: http://www.2paxfly.com/2016/10/not-all-hotels-are-same.html

  8. @Lucky, I am currently dealing with this issue myself. I’m trying to add the DSU to my booking at the PH Dubai and all agents I have spoken to have stated that it is not available to book with C+P. The Twitter concierge told me that they emailed the hotel directly stating the T&C and that they need to honor it. The hotel has not done anything and right now I just spoke with another agent who spoke with the hotel. The hotel this time said that there is a minimum 5 night stay and unless if I book using cash for the 5 nights they are not allowing it even though the room pulls up online for the 3 night stay.

  9. This happened to me this week with the Park Hyatt New York. I tried hard but ultimately gave up. I had booked a cash + points stay only so I could use the suite certificate, so ultimately cancelled the booking and booked a full award stay to save the $300.

  10. Hyatt fanboy here: Had a very pleasant experience regarding DSUs recently. You might know that many corporates have an allotment (handled by corporate travel agencies) with certain hotels, and names of the customers are only revealed last minute to the hotel. While this assures flexibility for the corporates (they don’t care who is using the room) and also enables better planning for the hotels, it makes using DSUs difficult, as you don’t have a confirmation number for the reservation but you do have an confirmed room within the allotment.
    When first checking and making the reservation, inventory showed suites available at standard rates, so DSUs should be possible. When calling the hotline, they required a reservation number but after explaining circumstances, they reserved an additional standard suite for me on a regular rate and told me to call the hotel a few days in advance to take off the suite from reservation and assigning it to my corporate rate as DSU.
    I always thought only Hyatt central could access the DSUs but it was no problem working it out with the hotel and I got a CXL notice for the additional suite reservation plus a confirmation for deducting 1 DSU and everything worked out fine during the stay.
    I have 250+ nights per year and really do consider Hyatt the best hotel program in terms of value for elites. If only they had a better footprint…

  11. Its odd to hear you say ” one of the best perks of being a Hyatt Diamond member are the four confirmed Diamond Suite Upgrades you get each year”

    And yet you have only used it once this year. However I am glad in one way as I also have only used 1 suite upgrade this year too. I thought I was doing something wrong as I just can’t use them or they are not worth the bother. Frankly to me they are down on the list as to what makes diamond status valuable.

  12. The fact is that I’d had so many occurrences where Hyatt agents didn’t tell me accurate info that was only corrected later or after the fact that I lost count. Which is one reason I switched to SPG so many years ago. Hyatt elites love their DSUs….but it was surprisingly difficult to find chances to use them where the hotel allowed it or where the agent admittted there was inventory…even when it was obvious that there was. So I don’t know how anyone can be surprised now that it still is a major issue.

  13. What are “Diamond agents”? My understanding is that the “Diamond” line just bypasses the hold queue — it doesn’t actually get you to a different agent. I read that somewhere and an agent confirmed it one day when I asked if there was a Diamond line I could call (since I didn’t have the Diamond phone number with me). She seemed confused at first and then said, “Oh, the number to skip ahead to the next call in the wait line….yes, that’s _______”. I would assume that some of you guys would know more about this than I do, but my understanding is that it’s all the same agents.

    For what it’s worth, I applied one DSU to a cash + points without an issue. I tried to apply another on a suite that showed available on the phone, the agent saw it, went to book it, and it suddenly disappeared (at the Andaz Maui). Neither the agent nor supervisor would do anything about it (the hotel claimed it had been sold out for months….who knows? I know it showed for a revenue booking when I called and the agent saw it). They ended up giving me some points….and I knew the Pool Suite there wasn’t anything to write home about, so I let it go at that.

  14. @MI we just finished a 3 night stay at the PH Dubai on a C+P and applied a suite upgrade without any issues. Call back and ask for a supervisor. Ps: all contents of the minibar in Dubai are free for suites including beer, liquor and snacks. Very nice perk!!

  15. Almost everything in this post is based on fabricated perks that have always been murky as a result. Some claimed perks were simply exaggerated to create a program that never existed in the real world, and will cease to be, thankfully, so that we would be spared the exaggerations and fabrications.

    Just one such fabrication? That DSUs are not capacity controlled, when a HGP official had made it clear, in a conversation reported over at VFTW, that DSUs ARE, in fact, capacity controlled. Push come to shove someone who does not know the rules would say anything when asked to comment, but the official quoted at VFTW was fairly senior and in the know!

    Simply incredible that bloggers would make things up to tout perks for their preferred programs that are more expansive than even the programs offering them realize!

    The thread title says it all: No, HGP was never better than “this” and it is going to get worse as WOH!

    G’day!

  16. Majority of my bookings with Hyatt are P+C and I’ve never had an issue applying a DSU. I’ve *always* requested it via Twitter, as I hate calling agents on the phone, and I’ve never been told it wasn’t available if I had confirmed on hyatt.com that a suite was indeed available for booking. This has got to be a training issue

  17. Don’t believe me? Then show me in the T&C where it says that DSUs are not capacity controlled. Also, we know everything about how complimentary suite upgrades will be like under WOH! because the rules have been spelled out in excruciating details. But just wait for bloggers to begin interpreting for you, erroneously, rules that cannot be clearer, and claim them to be special and award unstated benefits 😉

  18. @Lucky, can you confirm all Diamonds qualified for 2017 when get the same amount of free night certs once the Hyatt world kicks in next Feb? regardless if you earn it by 25 stays, 50 nights, or 60 nights?

  19. Keeping arguing over this and more and more hotels will pull out C+P availability.

    Park Hyatt New York already did (for short-term stays). Remember it is fully at the hotel’s discretion whether to provide C+P or not.

  20. Any way you can look into suite upgrades with (6,000) points per night when booking the Standard Rate? I wonder if this is the same case as P&C bookings. I booked Andaz 5th Ave on Standard Rate but was told that there was no “inventory” to upgrade to the Andaz Splash Suite, but obviously the cash rate was available.

  21. @Astoria – Travel bloggers have convinced themselves that individual properties have no say under HGP or SPG, their favored programs, which they also believe offer “entitled” or “guaranteed” perks to their members. The trouble with the claims, of course, is that they are all made up based on interpreting clear T&C as favorably as can. This whole thread is exhibit A. The confusion reigning here is unthinkable under the HH or MR program (although we have to wait until bloggers are thru reinterpreting already clear MR rules to make the program “the best in the business”, since their favored programs that previously held that designation are kaput!

    The degree of naivete is simply mind-boggling coming from folks who claim to know it all about travel and loyalty!

  22. “Just one such fabrication? That DSUs are not capacity controlled, when a HGP official had made it clear, in a conversation reported over at VFTW, that DSUs ARE, in fact, capacity controlled”

    You really do live in your own sad little world, don’t you.

    “Simply incredible that bloggers would make things up to tout perks for their preferred programs that are more expansive than even the programs offering them realize!”

    The only person making things up around here is you, child. Seriously… show me the T&C where it says they’re not capacity controlled? About as absurd as saying “show me the T&C where it says Hilton must push lower tier members off the balcony of their suites to accommodate for Diamond members.”

    They are not capacity controlled. Your logic: There is no evidence in the T&C that they are not= evidence that they are.

    Psychotic.

    Don’t know which VFTW article you’re lying about (or are you referring to something you fabricated in comments?). Direct search on google: “(VFTW spelled out) DSU capacity” leads to an article titled EXACTLY THE FRIGGIN OPPOSITE of what you’re claiming “No, Hyatt’s Confirmed Suite Upgrades Aren’t Capacity Controlled. Why Do You Ask?”

    Again, certain hotels try not to play by the rules, but that’s not the policy, and can be overridden with appropriate phone call to HGP.

  23. “they are all made up based on interpreting clear T&C as favorably as can.”
    Oh, like how you interpret your suite upgrades in Hilton T&C?

  24. Definition of a DSU: if you book a room and apply a suite upgrade, you are “guaranteed” to get a suite.
    VS Hilton. If you book a room as a Diamond, you are “supposed” to get a suite upgrade.

  25. @Joe – You are not worth addressing because you clearly have drunk too much of the toxic kool-aid. If you have not yet noticed, SPG is dead and HGP is, well, just WOH! Detoxify by doing your homework and then call me in the morning.

    Be well!

  26. this just happened to me at Park Hyatt Vienna…I was told the DSUs for P&C bookings are in a different bucket…If I paid full rate I could guarantee the DSU…no thanks

  27. @DCS

    Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide may have stopped trading on the NYSE back in September, but SPG (short for the hotel loyalty program “Starwood Preferred Guest”) is still very much alive and well.

    Also, HGP won’t become WOH until 2017.

    Please check the tenses of your verbs, they’re confusing people.

  28. Happened to me too in October (PH Tokyo) and in November (HR Düsseldorf). Same pattern: After a few tries, I have had to ask for a supervisor in order to get it done. Both times on twitter.

  29. You are not profitable to them. You need to help them make more money and v they will really kiss your butt just the way you like it. Until then you are just a hacker, albeit one with a loud mouth since you have a blog.

  30. Finding that when calling the Diamond line recently staff seemed uninformed or misinformed on promotions and other issues. Wonder if getting a private line agent will help?

  31. I just the other day booked Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi with points and cash and confirmed a DSU!
    No hustle and no issues.

  32. Had a similar issue with Andaz in Costa Rica but managed to sort it out eventually.

    Given increased requirements for Diamonds (and – still – not getting any night credits for point stays), use of P+C is going to be crucial, IMHO.

    P.S. There are apparently multiple levels of agents… Just found out last month that some agents can’t book award (P or P+C) stays within 72 hours of arrival — they have to transfer to another agent.

  33. No luck recently applying a DSU to a c+p booking for Danang, Vietnam, despite plenty of availability showing. Didn’t push too hard, just decided to go to Malaysia instead and cancelled that plus Saigon. DSU honoured no probs at Kinabalu, c+p. It will be interesting to see what happens with redeeming on points stays come March – will hotels push back even harder on those?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *