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Earlier this week, Hyatt announced enhanced breakfast offerings and other changes coming to the Hyatt Place brand later this year. For those who book all of their stays directly with Hyatt, the changes were neutral to positive, but there was potential trouble lurking just beneath the surface for those who sometimes book via a third-party site like Hotels.com, Expedia, etc. In the initial announcement, Hyatt says that “World of Hyatt members will be able to enjoy the newly reimagined breakfast for free at Hyatt Place hotels”. I was also told that those who sign-up for the World of Hyatt program at check-in could also enjoy free breakfast for the duration of their Hyatt Place stay.

Hyatt Places releases confusing information about future breakfast plans

The initial press release

did not address what happens if you don’t book your Hyatt Place stay directly with Hyatt, but since other World of Hyatt benefits do not confer when booking via a third-party site, I had some real concerns about how the new Hyatt Place breakfast would play out. It took Hyatt some time to get me a clear answer on what happens when a World of Hyatt member books a Hyatt Place stay via a third party site, but now we have an answer…and it isn’t good. In fact, it is really bad.

What they initially said about providing free breakfast to those signing up for the World of Hyatt during their Hyatt Place stay was accurate. It does not matter how you book your stay, if you sign up for the World of Hyatt program during your Hyatt Place stay, then everyone in the room gets the free breakfast that will include regional specialties such as avocado toast, biscuits and gravy, cage-free eggs, all natural bacon, all natural skinless sausage, artisanal bread and pastries, and so on.

World of Hyatt members not eligible for free Hyatt Place breakfast when booking via third-party sites

However, those who are already World of Hyatt members, even those with top-tier Globalist status, will apparently not get the free Hyatt Place breakfast if they booked their Hyatt Place stay via a third-party site like Hotels.com. The press release does not mention that important nugget of disappointment. This is really a big devaluation and an over-complication of something that doesn’t need to be complicated. If you want to only offer breakfast to those who are World of Hyatt members as was announced, that is fair and logical since anyone can sign-up for free and become a member. Punishing your most loyal customers because they booked a particular stay at your hotel via another booking channel is punitive and ridiculous.

There are many reasons a customer may book a stay via a third-party site instead of going direct, and often it is done to meet the requirements of a company travel policy. Hyatt may not make as much on a third-party booking versus a direct one, but when all incentive to book with a certain chain or brand is removed for the customer who has to go via a third party, then the hotel may end up making zero on that stay as opposed to a little less.

Business and leisure Hyatt members punished unnecessarily

It isn’t just business travelers who are hit by this, but also those leisure travelers who use a site like hotels.com to show them many different lodging options at once instead of having to take the time to check site by site and brand by brand. I frequently say that these days you need a Ph.D. in Airline to know the various rules and fly effectively, but I haven’t had the same view of hotels since they generally keep things much simpler. Sure, some chains offer free breakfast and some don’t, but it is pretty easy to understand which is which. Well, no more. If Hyatt’s goal was to require Ph.D.’s in the World of Hyatt program in order to understand (and often argue for) the benefits, then they deserve a gold medal.

Otherwise, I’m just not sure I understand what is going on with the Hyatt I know and loved, because the forthcoming rules who does and does not get free breakfast at a limited-service brand that previously offered it to all guests are unnecessarily complicated and punitive. Traveling families like things to be simple and rewarding, as we do not have time for complicated and punitive. I don’t know if there is any chance of Hyatt reversing course on this decision, but I truly hope they reconsider and step away from the march towards unnecessary levels of complexity.

As it stands, these changes take effect beginning on November 1, 2018.

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