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Hotel elite status is a great way to make your travels more rewarding and less stressful. Each of the major chains offers a number of perks to loyal members, but just how much are the different tiers worth? Today I’ll continue the 2019 update to my annual series that attempts to quantify the value you can get from the elite status tiers of each of the major programs. After starting with Hilton Honors and the soon-to-be-renamed Marriott Bonvoy program, I’ll now move onto the World of Hyatt program.
Before getting deep into the numbers, it’s important to note that my analysis represents just one way to decide how much the World of Hyatt elite status program is worth. You may find some benefits to be worthless, while you may peg others as much more valuable than I do. In addition, given Hyatt’s relatively limited worldwide footprint, the program may not even be a feasible option based on your typical travel patterns. Feel free to adjust my calculations based on your individual situation.
Like with my previous entries, the final dollar amounts at which I landed for each tier represent the value you’d get after reaching that status level and continuing to qualify each year thereafter. If you’re starting from scratch, you won’t enjoy any benefits until you reach Discoverist status. For readers in that position, I have included a spreadsheet toward the end of the post to give you an idea of how much value you can get during 2018, even if you’re starting with no Hyatt status.
This brings me to the key assumptions I am making for this entry and all in the series:
- You complete 20% more nights than the minimum required for the given level.
- You spend an average of $150 per night.
- Your average stay is 2 nights (though I’ll round up as needed).
I’m also assuming that your stays are split evenly between full-service properties (like Andaz and Hyatt Regency) and limited-service properties (like Hyatt Place and Hyatt House).
As always, feel free to adjust these assumptions to fit more closely with your typical stay patterns.
Three final reminders: I’m basing the value of any bonus points earned on TPG’s most recent valuations, which pegged Hyatt points at 1.7 cents apiece. I’m also rounding the values to the nearest $5 to make the calculations a bit easier. Finally, most of below perks are not provided at the Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) properties that are currently integrated into the World of Hyatt program (54 were added in December 2018 and another 56 joined at the end of January 2019). Even though you can earn elite night credits for stays at these hotels, the only elite status perk you’ll enjoy is bonus point accrual.
With all that in mind, how much value does the World of Hyatt program provide to its elite members? Here are the numbers I found:
Hyatt Discoverist ($150)
The lowest tier in the World of Hyatt program is Discoverist status, which is typically earned after 10 nights or 25,000 base points ($5,000 in spending). It’s also included as an automatic benefit on The World of Hyatt Credit Card as well as the old Hyatt Credit Card (no longer available to new applicants). This used to be a perk on the United Club Card, but that benefit was removed in 2018. For this analysis, I’ll assume that you complete 12 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited service Hyatt properties.
- Bonus points ($15): Discoverist members will earn a 10% point bonus when staying at Hyatt properties, resulting in an additional 0.5 points per dollar spent. Given my assumptions above (12 nights at $150 per night), you’d spend a total of $1,800, earning you 900 extra Hyatt points, worth $15.30.
- Upgrades to preferred rooms ($60): Another perk for Discoverist members is space-available upgrades to preferred rooms within the same category, including ones with a preferred view or location. Sine this is restricted to the same type of room initially booked and doesn’t apply to Hyatt Place or Hyatt House locations, I’ll assume a conservative value of $10 per night at full-service properties.
- Daily bottle of water ($5): You’ll also enjoy a complimentary bottle of water each day of your stay as a Discoverist member. Since you can find water fountains at virtually every hotel these days, I’ll peg this at just $5.
- Complimentary premium internet ($10): Hyatt gives all guests complimentary internet, but Discoverist members can access premium internet for free. I’ve personally not seen a huge difference in speeds between the two, so I’ll keep this at a conservative $1 per night.
- Late checkout ($25): Discoverist travelers will also enjoy a 2pm late checkout upon request, though it’s subject to availability at Hyatt resorts and not available at Hyatt Residence Club or M life resorts. As a result, I’ll peg this at $25.
- Elite reservation line ($10): You can also call an elite reservation phone line as a Discoverist member, though I’ve rarely found a need to do so in my years of traveling, so I’ll assign just $10 of value.
- Pearl status with M life Rewards ($25): Back in 2013, Hyatt launched a partnership with MGM Resorts, and part of this included reciprocal elite status. Under the World of Hyatt program, Discoverist members will be granted Pearl status in the M life Rewards program when you match your Hyatt status. This gives you a number of benefits when staying at M life properties, including buffet line passes and complimentary self-parking. You could get a lot of value out of these benefits if you frequently visit Las Vegas (or other MGM locations), but I’ll keep this at just $25.
Hyatt Explorist ($945)
The second tier in the World of Hyatt program is Explorist status, which is typically earned after 30 nights or 50,000 base points ($10,000 in spending). However, since The World of Hyatt Credit Card awards cardholders 5 elite night credits and another 2 for every $5,000 you spend on the card in a calendar year, you can effectively “buy” Explorist status without any stays by simply spending $65,000 in a year on the card. However, I assume that most travelers would qualify with a combination of the two.
For this analysis, I’ll assume that you complete 36 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited service Hyatt properties.
- Bonus points ($90): Explorist members will earn 20% more points than a regular member, resulting in an additional 1 point per dollar spent. With the above assumptions (36 nights at $150 per night), you’d spend a total of $5,400, earning you 5,400 extra Hyatt points, worth $91.80.
- Four Club lounge access awards ($100): In late 2018, Hyatt announced changes to the way it will award upgrade certificates starting Mar. 1, 2019. In the past, you simply needed to qualify for Explorist status to earn four Club Upgrade Awards. Under the new system, this is accelerated: you’ll earn two at 20 elite-qualifying nights (or 35,000 base points) and the remaining two when you reach 30 nights (or 50,000 base points) and qualify for Explorist status. These Club Upgrade certificates are valid for same period of time that your applicable status is valid. A single one can be used on a stay of up to seven nights, and they are applicable to eligible paid room rates as well as rooms booked using points, but they (unfortunately) can’t be used on free night awards like the Category 1-4 certificates offered to Hyatt credit cardholders. Depending on the property (and the length of your stay), this could be very valuable, as these lounges typically serve continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres. However, they only apply to full-service properties with a lounge, so you can’t use them everywhere. I’ll thus assume a conservative valuation of $25 per award.
- Upgrade to best available room ($360): Unlike Discoverist members, Explorist travelers will be eligible for an upgrade to the best available room at check-in, excluding suites and rooms with lounge access. This is also not applicable at Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Residence Club and M life resorts. I’ll assume a valuation of $20 per night at the full-service locations.
- Daily bottle of water ($15): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Complimentary premium internet ($35): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Late checkout ($75): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Guaranteed availability ($20): Explorist members are guaranteed a room when making a paid reservation at least 72 hours prior to arrival. Like with the comparable benefits offered by other chains, Hyatt places a host of restrictions on this, including blackout dates and periods of “extraordinary room demand.” These rates also tend to be exorbitant, so I’ll peg this at just $20.
- Elite reservation line ($25): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Gold status with M life Rewards ($75): Explorist members can match their Hyatt status to M life Gold status, adding a number of other perks like room upgrades, VIP line access to nightclubs and complimentary valet parking in Las Vegas. This can be quite valuable for frequent visitors to Sin City, but I’ll keep it at a conservative $75.
- Free night in Category 1-4 property ($150): When you reach the 30-night threshold during the year and officially qualify for Explorist status, you’ll earn a free night award in a Category 1-4 Hyatt property. Unfortunately, your reservation must be booked and completed within 120 days of issuance, so it’s much more restrictive than the similar certificates that can be earned by holders of The World of Hyatt Credit Card. While some of these hotels can easily cost over $200 per night, I’ll peg this at a more conservative $150.
Hyatt Globalist ($4,745)
The top tier in the World of Hyatt program is Globalist status, which is typically earned after 60 nights or 100,000 base points ($20,000 in spending). However, starting in 2020, Hyatt will no longer offer a “discounted” requalification threshold of 55 nights for those who already have Globalist status. All members will need to reach the 60-night mark to earn this top tier. In addition, as noted above, you earn 5 elite night credits just for holding The World of Hyatt Credit Card and can earn additional elite-qualifying nights through spending, so this may allow you to close the gap.
For this analysis, I’ll assume that you complete 72 nights, split evenly between full-service and limited-service Hyatt properties.
- Bonus points ($275): Globalist members will earn a 30% bonus on stays, giving you an additional 1.5 points per dollar spent. Given the above assumptions (72 nights at $150 per night), you’d spend a total of $10,800, earning you 16,200 additional Hyatt points, worth $275.40.
- Room upgrades ($1,260): Like Discoverist and Explorist members, you’re eligible for room upgrades at check-in as a Globalist traveler, and this includes standard suites. Like the similar perks mentioned earlier, this isn’t available at Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Residence Club and M life resorts. I’ll peg this perk at $35 per night for the full-service locations.
- Four Suite Upgrade Awards ($800): The aforementioned changes to upgrade certificates also apply to one of Globalist members’ favorite perks: Suite Upgrade Awards. You’ll now earn two of these at 50 elite-qualifying nights (or 80,000 base points) and another two upon reaching 60 nights (or 100,000 base points) and earning Globalist status. Rather than hoping for an upgrade at check-in, these certificates allow you to confirm a suite at booking. Each one covers a stay of up to seven nights, and like the club upgrade awards, they can be used on paid stays and standard award stays (including Points + Cash reservations) but don’t apply to awards booked with free night certificates. They are valid through the end of the year in which they were earned plus an additional 14 months, but you must redeem them and complete your stay prior to the expiration date. While you may not be able to get a full 28 nights out of these, you can score a fantastically large suite in some cases, so I’ll peg these at $200 apiece.
- Club lounge access and/or free breakfast ($900): Globalist members also enjoy access to Club lounges where available, and at properties without a Club lounge can enjoy complimentary full breakfast for each registered guest (up to 2 adults and 2 children) in the hotel’s restaurant. As a Diamond member (the precursor to Globalist), I found that this even included room service at a handful of properties like the Andaz Amsterdam and Park Hyatt Zurich. Given that it extends to a family of four and includes club access, I’ll peg this perk at $25 per night at the full-service properties.
- Daily bottle of water ($35): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Complimentary premium internet ($70): Same benefit, more frequent utilization.
- Early check-in ($50): One unique perk of Globalist status is priority access to available rooms when checking in early. I typically never had any problem arriving before the designated check-in time as a top-tier elite, but having the policy in writing is a nice improvement. I’ll peg this benefit at $50.
- Late checkout ($150): Hyatt also allows Globalist members late checkout privileges but extends it to 4pm, offering some valuable flexibility if you need to depart later in the afternoon.
- Waived resort fees ($100): All World of Hyatt members (including those without elite status) don’t have to pay those pesky resort fees on award stays. However, the new program takes this a step further and now waives resort fees for Globalist members on all stays (excluding Residence Club properties and M life resorts). This can save you quite a bit of money if you frequently visit locations like Hawaii or the Caribbean where these fees are very prevalent. It can also save you the hassle of negotiating to get them waived. I’ll assume that four of your nights are spent at applicable properties with an average fee of $25 per night.
- Complimentary parking on free night awards ($100): Another nice perk for Globalist members is complimentary parking at hotels that run their own paid parking service (a.k.a. can be charged to the room) on award stays. Parking fees can be quite high at resort or big-city properties, and you often have no choice but to use these facilities (as I experienced at the Andaz Maui). I’ll assume that you utilize this four nights per year with a daily parking rate of $25.
- Guaranteed availability ($25): Globalist members have the same guaranteed availability benefit offered to Explorist members but a shorter timeframe in which to invoke it (48 hours instead of 72). The same restrictions apply though, so I’ll add just $5.
- Elite reservation line ($25): Same benefit, but I can’t see Globalist members using this more frequently.
- My Hyatt Concierge ($50): In addition to the elite reservation line, Globalist members can utilize a more tailored concierge service, assisting with not only reservations but any special request. If you frequently need this type of dedicated agent, it can be quite valuable, but I’ll assume a conservative $50 valuation.
- Guest of Honor ($25): Hyatt added the Guest of Honor benefit in 2015 and continues this perk, which allows Globalist members to redeem points for a friend or family member and “transfer” their elite status privileges to that traveler. This can be a great way to make a loved one’s trip more rewarding, but I’ll peg this at a conservative $25.
- Two complimentary United Club passes ($30): Globalist members will continue to receive two United Club passes each year. While a day pass usually costs $59, you can typically buy these on eBay for ~$15 apiece, so I’ll value them at this “market” value.
- Gold status with M life Rewards ($100): Globalist travelers receive the same Gold status in the M life Rewards program as Explorist members. I’ll add another $25 due to the extra travel and resulting added likelihood of visiting these properties during the year.
- Free night in Category 1-4 property ($150)
- Free night in a Category 1-7 property ($300): In addition to earning a free night in a Category 1-4 property when surpassing the requirements for Explorist status, you’ll also earn a free night in any Hyatt property when reaching the requirements for Globalist status (60 nights or 100,000 base points). This is also valid for 120 days from the date of issuance and can be redeemed at any Hyatt hotel with standard award inventory. You’d get especially great value from top-tier properties like the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme, but I’ll keep this at a somewhat conservative valuation of $300.
- New threshold bonus ($100): In addition to the upgrade changes announced in 2018, Hyatt also added a new milestone bonus at 40 elite-qualifying nights (or 65,000 base points). You can choose between 5,000 Hyatt points, a $100 Hyatt gift card or a 10,000-point discount on a FIND Experience redemption. I’ll assume you select the Hyatt gift card here, as the bonus points aren’t quite as valuable and the FIND Experiences aren’t the best use of points.
- Added threshold bonuses ($200): A final perk for Globalist members is provided by completing 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights in a calendar year, giving you an added incentive for continuing past the standard qualification threshold. For each of these milestones you hit, you can choose either 10,000 bonus points (worth $170) or an additional suite upgrade award. Since I’m assuming 72 nights, you’ll surpass the first of these thresholds, so I’ll tack on an additional $200.
What if I’m starting from scratch?
Of course, as I mentioned earlier, all of the numbers above represent values for those of you who have already earned these status levels. However, many of you may be starting from scratch without any Hyatt status at all. If this is the case, you won’t enjoy any benefits until you have completed 10 nights and earned Discoverist status. After that, you won’t enjoy additional benefits until you hit 30 nights to earn Explorist status. How can you quantify this climb up the ranks?
Just like I did for my airline elite status series, I’ve attempted to answer this by converting the above calculations into a value per night, as follows:
- Hyatt Discoverist: $150 / 12 nights = $12.50 per night
- Hyatt Explorist (minus $250 — explanation below): $695 / 36 nights = $19.31 per night
- Hyatt Globalist (minus $1,580 — explanation below): $3,165 / 72 = $43.96 per night
I then created an Excel spreadsheet that uses these numbers to calculate the value you’d get from the program as you move up the Hyatt elite status ladder. All you need to do is input the total number of nights you complete and the numbers will adjust automatically. You’ll notice that I included the additional threshold bonuses as you go above and beyond the “standard” qualification level for Globalist status.
To make this as realistic as possible, I made additional changes to the total values I got for Explorist and Globalist status:
- Explorist: I removed the value of the Club Upgrade Awards and the Category 1-4 award, which dropped the value by $250. These then appear as a separate line item in the spreadsheet, since they are fixed values once you reach certain thresholds (as opposed to variable perks that become more valuable as you complete more nights).
- Globalist: I removed the Suite Upgrade Awards, two free night awards, United Club passes and all milestone bonuses, which dropped the value by $1,550. These were all then given their own lines in the spreadsheet.
For example, you’ll see that I have pre-loaded 75 nights into the spreadsheet. With these numbers, you’d get no benefits for the first 10 nights, enjoy Discoverist benefits for the next 20 nights (at a rate of $12.50 per night), then enjoy Explorist benefits for the next 30 nights (at a rate of $19.31 per night), and finally enjoy Globalist perks for the remaining 15 nights (at a rate of $43.96 per night). In addition, you’d gain access to multiple additional perks like upgrade certificates and free night awards as you progressed up this elite status ladder. As a result, if you’re starting with no status and plan to complete 75 nights in 2019, you’d be able to get $3,138.54 in value from the World of Hyatt program.
Again, feel free to update the numbers in the “Base Data” tab of the spreadsheet to include your own valuations of the perks.
Is it worth it?
So given these values, is it worth pursuing elite status (or the next tier of elite status) with World of Hyatt? Just like with any analysis we undertake here at TPG, there isn’t an easy answer to this, as it depends entirely on your individual situation. However, here are a few over-arching questions that can help you arrive at a decision:
- How much will you travel in the future? When you’re pursuing elite status, it’s critical to think about how much you’ll be traveling in the future. If you push hard to earn Explorist status, for example, the valuable perks outlined above only apply when you actually travel.
- What’s the incremental value of one tier over another? Many of you may wind up within striking distance of the next tier, so be sure to consider whether the benefits are worth pushing for it. There’s no sense in going out of your way for perks that don’t matter to you.
- How well does Hyatt’s geographical coverage match your typical travel patterns? There’s really no point in pursuing elite status with a hotel chain if you can’t feasibly stay at one (or more) of its properties on a regular basis. Be sure to consider Hyatt’s hotels in and around your common destinations. While the program is expanding its footprint with the SLH partnership (and will hopefully finalize its Two Roads Hospitality integration in 2019), it’s still a far cry from the several thousand properties that Hilton and Marriott boast.
- How sensitive are you to price and convenience? There are many tradeoffs in this hobby, and one of the most common is deciding whether to use your preferred airline or hotel chain when it’s not the most convenient or cheapest. Would you stay at a Hyatt Regency if there was another brand that was cheaper and/or more convenient to where you need to be? If the answer is no, it may not be worth going out of your way to earn elite status with Hyatt (or elite status with any hotel chain, for that matter).
- Is a credit card a better option? As mentioned above, The World of Hyatt Credit Card offers automatic Discoverist status and the ability to earn additional elite night credits through spending. As a result, you may be better off applying for this card and utilizing the benefits or supplementing qualifying stays with spending rather than worrying about qualifying (or requalifying) the hard way.
These questions are also not easy to answer, as there are many different factors that come into play with each of them. Nevertheless, it’s a worthwhile exercise to evaluate your own situation as you decide to determine if Hyatt elite status is for you!
The World of Hyatt program is a favorite of many travelers. However, given the limited footprint of Hyatt’s various brands, it may not be a viable option for everyone, even though the program provides some significant value to its loyal members. That being said, all signs are pointing to a significant expansion of the program’s portfolio of properties, so I hope this analysis has helped you decide whether to pursue Hyatt elite status in 2019.
Featured image courtesy of the Hyatt Zilara Rose Hall in Jamaica.
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