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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.

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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.

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.

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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? Mile at a Time