Fast-track status offers for the four major hotel groups are available, Hyatt and Hilton are the clear winners.
Fast-Track Run Down
Every travel provider is grasping for revenue before the end of the year. The recovery was fast and vertical this summer but with new looming disruption due to the changing world and the rise of the Delta variant of COVID-19, the cash train is about to stop in its tracks.
Most brands were early to offer fast-track promotions to get travelers moving again, however, they were not (and remain not) created equally.
IHG has an offer that fast-tracks guests to Platinum status with just five stays. But Platinum status delivers little value outside of elevated points from stays (50% over 10% for Gold.) Late checkouts are not guaranteed, points are increasingly worth less, and upgrades are hard to come by with the rare exception of a Kimpton property. Hard Pass.
Marriott announced early that it would offer status at 50% of published requirements. However, management sees more value in satisfying hoteliers than guests, requires a decoder ring to determine eligible benefits, and has the highest status requirements. For Platinum qualification, a guest would have to stay 25 nights for which upgrades are offered with the line “We’ll do our best…” Hard Pass.
Hilton Worldwide has reduced requirements by 50% as well, but Hilton Honors continue to offer stays and nights distinction. Diamond status in 2021 can be achieved with as few as 15 stays or 30 nights; the former is far more attainable. The detractor is that Hilton has all but eliminated housekeeping – a change they state will be permanent – and reduced the US breakfast benefit to a nearly unusable credit. Possible Option.
Hyatt Hotels offered a 50% reduction (by way of double elite nights), the status quo of 2021 hotel loyalty. The chain since enhanced that original offer by offering Explorist for 10 nights and Globalist for 20 nights through the end of the year. Unlike Marriott and Hilton, Hyatt hasn’t busied itself this year with reducing what benefits will be offered. The drawback for Hyatt is that some of the richest benefits are only available by meeting stay minimums (Milestone Awards.) Best Option.
Why Hyatt Is The Best Offer
While Hilton may have the fewest absolute required stays to qualify for top-tier status from scratch, reduced benefits and experience are the main criteria for why this is not the best option. Diamond upgrades at Hilton properties have been harder for me to come by; the breakfast benefit deterioration, and its reduced service is also an issue. Most travelers stay in the same hotel several nights, which makes qualification by stay impractical for many.
Hyatt offers upgrades more frequently, has a higher proportion of quality resorts, and a point currency that hasn’t been inflated beyond compare. On the basis of the first promotion (still active) I need to complete 16 more stays to re-qualify for Globalist, but 20 for those who hadn’t otherwise held status with Hyatt is a bargain. The timeline to complete this remains through the end of the year and includes greater benefits than the others.
For hotels, COVID-19 hasn’t solely been a health crisis, it’s also been an economic crisis. Some chains remain confused about just how much value their status tiers afford guests (no surprise from IHG and Marriott.) Others like Hilton and Marriott are balancing the costs their owners bear with keeping hotels full of the right mix of guests. Hyatt may not have the absolute cheapest way to achieve status (or elevate it) in 2021 but remains the best value.
What do you think? Are you on a fast-track promotion? If so, which chain did you choose and why?