The program gremlins at Hyatt Gold Passport have been busy. Changes to the program were recently announced, and the verdict is, well, mixed.
Not surprisingly, and to their credit, Gold Passport began with immediate changes that decidedly improved the program. The three-night minimum required to claim a standard award for a midweek stay was eliminated. And in a U.S. hotel industry first, now all members can transfer awards to family and friends or combine points with any other Gold Passport member to redeem an award. The transfer of awards, however, is limited to standard awards, not promotional awards like those earned through the Faster Free Nights offer.
In addition, the points-to-miles conversion has improved to 2.5 Gold Passport points to 1 airline mile (previously 3-to-1), and all previous stay requirements have been removed. Members can also receive a 5,000-mile bonus when redeeming 50,000 Gold Passport points.
As is usual, however, the good news came with some bad. And again, to their credit, Gold Passport at least gave program members a good five-month advance notice.
Beginning in March of 2005, the familiar 300 Gold Passport bonus points for flying a partner airline will be discontinued.
And in keeping with an industry trend, Hyatt is cracking down on loyalty perks for rooms booked with Internet discount brokers like Priceline and Hotels.com. Stays and nights will qualify toward Platinum and Diamond tier status and promotion credit only when members pay an “eligible rate.”
There has been some discussion as to what, exactly, constitutes an “eligible rate.” According to a Hyatt spokesperson: “Eligible rates include, but are not limited to, prevailing rack rate, group or convention, discount, corporate/volume, etc. Almost all of the corporate/volume rates are eligible toward tier and promotional credit. Ineligible rates include, but are not limited to, rates such as airline crew rates, third party Internet wholesale rates, contracted rooms and award stays. To clarify, a contracted room(s) is a specified number of rooms which are prepaid over an extended period of time.” AAA and senior discounted rates are still eligible.