Some travel companies have extended the membership year for elite travellers, but airline, hotel status waivers shouldn’t be restricted to country of residence.
Hyatt, others Extend Status Waivers for Coronavirus Country Members
Many hotel chains and airlines have extended the status of elite members residing in countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Some as far as Australia, a country that has not yet seen the widespread expansion of coronavirus, have received waivers for activity through the end of this year.
The reason for the waiver is because those in the region may be restricted from movement for business or leisure travel. It could be next to impossible for Asia-Pacific members to achieve their status requirements especially with some hotels and airlines shutting down service entirely. It’s the right move for chains like Hyatt to keep those members in the fold when their customers won’t otherwise be able to maintain their status.
Waivers Should Extend Globally
There are two cases which suggest that Hyatt and others should extend these waivers globally for the year. The first is for travellers who do not live in the affected regions but travel to them.
For example, last year I spent more than 20 nights in the Asia-Pacific region, many of which were in China and Hong Kong, which could have an effect on my status renewal efforts this year. Many other professionals with business focused in the region but flying from an unaffected region will have this problem but on a far larger scale than my modest personal numbers.
Domestic travel has already shown signs of slowing and some companies are reducing employee travel. For the same reasons as those who are based in Asia-Pacific countries, the ability to maintain or achieve status is diminished even though the United States is not widely affected.
Cost Is Minimal
The cost for Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton are pretty low. Hyatt probably has the highest costs for Globalists with so many of its properties offering some form of free breakfast (Marriott less so), four confirmed suite upgrades for up to seven nights each (Marriott has made using Suite Night Upgrades tougher) and awarding free night certificates for category 1-4 and 1-7 properties.
But true costs are minimal and hard to measure. How many customers will pay for those nights that would have otherwise used a certificate? More than none, less than 100% and there are likely less than 20,000 Globalists worldwide.
Others will rejoice in the relaxed requirements for this (hopefully) one-time event and better brand appreciation really doesn’t hurt. The ad campaign behind it could be really simple too:
“We want our guests to be healthy, so this year if you have to stay home to be healthy, we understand. We welcome you back with open arms at your current status level through the end of next year.”
That’s cheap and easy publicity and for many travellers, it is the right thing to do.
If we believe everything we read (we really shouldn’t), a global slowdown is upon us. That can have a “reset” effect for airlines and hotel chains. If one extends status waivers, more will too and the costs are low. A great manager once told me when I was a pizza shop manager, “Never let your customer taste the competition” because no matter how good your product is, they might not come back.
What do you think? Should airlines and hotel chains extend status waivers for all their customers? What about those with travel to other regions on a case-by-case basis?