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To begin 2017, I completed 25 stays at Hyatt properties in order to enjoy the new World of Hyatt program by earning top-tier Globalist status through February 2019. The published benefits should yield a high return on my investment, especially for my traveling family of four. For my first stay as a “Globalist” at the Hyatt Regency Austin — I was speaking at South By Southwest — I booked a room at a cost of 15,000 points per night. But after a few minutes at the check-in desk, it was apparent Hyatt was still facing some challenges in rolling out the World of Hyatt program.

Upgrade Issues

The first snag became apparent when I tried to take advantage of one of the best new benefits of Globalist status: complimentary room upgrades, now including standard suites, for Globalists. The Hyatt Regency Austin has three suite types: River View, Deluxe and Presidential. I assumed River View was the standard suite but called the Globalist line to confirm.

The Globalist line told me an executive suite is used at the Hyatt Regency Austin, which is not a room category the property lists. The representative was insistent it was correct and, not surprisingly, told me no executive suites were available for the dates of my stay. I called the Austin property to confirm and was told they don’t have executive suites and do not set aside a specific suite for confirmed upgrades. The rooms manager for the property later clarified that a River View Suite is the designated suite for confirmed upgrades — the confusion was a result of recent property renovations.

The Hyatt Regency Austin sits just across the famed Congress Ave “bat bridge” from downtown.

I understood all of this to mean if a River View Suite was available when I checked in, I should be upgraded to that room from my standard two-queen room. Upon my arrival at the hotel, a River View Suite was still for sale on the Hyatt app for all four nights of my stay. Fast forward a few minutes to check-in…

I arrived just before midnight after a late flight into Austin, and only one person was ahead of me in the check-in line. I got a bit nervous when I heard the hotel agent take the “Hyatt Gold Passport” number of the guest in front of me, but I shrugged it off. It was quickly my turn to check in and the agent thanked me for my “Global” number being on file.

After she checked me in and before she started to make the keys, I asked if there were any Globalist suite upgrades available. Her reaction indicated she had no idea what a Globalist was. After a few clicks she responded “those rooms have been blocked.” I said a River View Suite was still available for the duration of my stay, but if I needed to switch rooms the following day (because I know how busy it is during SXSW), I’d be happy to enjoy a suite for one night then move. She said she couldn’t help. I decided not to push things any further, as I was tired and would send the usually helpful Hyatt Twitter team a message in the morning.

Breakfast and Free Parking Benefits

My sister lives in Houston and was driving over to Austin the following day to visit, so I asked the check-in agent if she would have in and out privileges and how we could make sure the parking was complimentary — a new Globalist benefit when staying on award stays. She again glanced at her computer and said she didn’t see parking as part of any package I had booked. I told her it was a new benefit of being a Globalist member, but she clearly didn’t understand. I told her I’d take care of it at checkout.

Finally, I asked how breakfast worked at the property for Globalist. I asked if there was a certain dollar amount for ordering a la carte or if it just included the buffet. The agent again said she didn’t see breakfast as a part of any package I had booked. Frustrated at this point, I said Globalist members receive breakfast as a benefit. She responded “no, Diamond members receive free breakfast.” I politely told her Diamonds no longer exist, and that Globalist is the top-tier status in the new World of Hyatt program. Her final response before I departed for my room was “Oh really? Have a great stay.” I decided I’d ask the breakfast staff in the morning how the benefit worked and headed to my room, a bit defeated.

At breakfast (which was delicious with very friendly staff) the next morning, I asked my waiter how the Globalist breakfast benefit worked. He came back with my check for two breakfast buffets, which looked like this:

The waiter explained, “I just wrote Diamond. This new Globalist, Environmentalist thing is too confusing.” He said the charges wouldn’t be on my room. Upon checkout on Monday morning, both breakfast and parking were on my bill, which I asked to be removed and they were. I also have not received 5 base points per dollar for lunch and dinner at the property.

Bottom Line

I expected my first Globalist stay to have a few hiccups. It’d be fine if a staff member didn’t realize the small nuances, like the fact that free parking is only on award stays, and only for Globalists. However the lack of knowledge by the check-in agent set a bad tone for the stay, mainly because of the effort — both in time and expenses — I had exerted in January and February in order to secure this top-tier status. My room was perfectly fine and the property offered a good (free!) stay, but that’s not why I pursued Globalist. Any Hyatt customer, regardless of status level, would have received that same experience.

I filled out a customer survey through email after my stay and received a follow-up call from the rooms manager at the property. She apologized for the experience and said she was surprised at my ordeal. She stated the property had spent over a month preparing for World of Hyatt and even had pop quizzes among staff to ensure everyone knew things such as Diamond no longer existing and to make sure staff understood the new benefits benefits.

Additionally, I reached out to a contact at Hyatt, who had this to say: “This is certainly not the experience we hoped for, and we greatly appreciate the feedback so we can continue to improve the World of Hyatt experience. As you heard from the hotel leadership, we have completed extensive global training leading up to the World of Hyatt launch.”

The Austin property has done superbly in previous customer rankings, so it sounds like maybe I just got unlucky. Even if that’s the case, based on my experience at check-in and breakfast, Hyatt is facing at least some minor hiccups in rolling out the new program.

What has your experience been so far with the World of Hyatt?

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