Do Loyalty Programs Listen to Feedback from Members?

Dec 25, 2016

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TPG reader Justin sent me a message on Facebook to ask about the new World of Hyatt:

“A lot of Hyatt elites are upset with the changes to Gold Passport. Have you ever seen a loyalty program make or delay changes based on a public outcry?”

Hyatt recently announced sweeping changes to its loyalty program, including updated benefits and new (generally higher) elite qualification requirements. I have mixed feelings about the new World of Hyatt, but many Gold Passport members have been understandably ruffled by these changes, especially those who previously earned status through shorter or less expensive stays. The question is whether dissatisfied customers have any recourse, and while we can’t be sure how Hyatt will process criticism of the new program, I do think travel providers are generally receptive to feedback (both positive and negative).

A public outcry can definitely have an effect. In 2014, Delta reversed course by deciding not to impose an annual cap on transfers from partners, partly in response to negative feedback from customers. The airline’s relationship with American Express was also an important factor, but the cap’s unpopularity among frequent flyers helped justify the reversal. That was a relatively minor tweak to the SkyMiles program, so it’s not an entirely fair comparison, but it shows that public opinion counts for something.

For what it’s worth, Hyatt has indicated that the company will give consideration to feedback about the upcoming changes. That might just be lip service to appease disgruntled customers, but since the new program doesn’t launch for several months, I’d wager that some aspects of it could still be adjusted if the response is overwhelming. It doesn’t hurt to voice your opinion (politely, of course). Whether Hyatt will ultimately listen is anybody’s guess.

Image courtesy of the Hyatt Shanghai
The World of Hyatt program makes it more difficult for some members to earn elite status. Image courtesy of the Hyatt Shanghai.

If the company doesn’t listen to words, you can always vote with your dollars and take your business elsewhere. Switching to another hotel program may not be ideal, but it shouldn’t sting too badly if you can match or challenge for elite status. Hyatt is going to make decisions that support its bottom line, and could be forced to reconsider its plans if the brand starts hemorrhaging valuable customers.

For more on World of Hyatt, check out these posts:

If you have any other questions, please tweet me @thepointsguy, message me on Facebook or send me an email at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image courtesy of subman via Getty Images.

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