Bad News: Hyatt Will Introduce Peak, Off-Peak Award Pricing in March
Hyatt is easily one of the most valuable hotel chains out there, thanks to some almost unbelievably low award rates to book free nights at its properties. Come March 2020, that’s taking a bit of a hit.
The hotel chain announced Wednesday that it will introduce peak and off-peak pricing for stays and bookings sometime in March, with slightly higher award rates during busy periods – and slightly lower rates during less-busy times. It’s a page out of Marriott’s book, which adopted this variable pricing model late last year.
In Hyatt’s case, the increases will be fairly mild, at no more than 5,000 extra World of Hyatt points to book a top-tier property during peak times – or discounts of up to 5,000 for an off-peak booking. Take a look at how Hyatt will divvy up the rates for off-peak, standard, and peak award nights at each type of Hyatt property.
Staying with points at one of Hyatt’s great all-inclusive resorts, Hyatt Ziva and Zilara? Changes are on the way there, too.
Hyatt’s Points + Cash bookings are also getting hit with peak and off-peak pricing. It’s not clear exactly when in March these changes will take effect yet – Hyatt says it will announce the effective date later.
Critically, Hyatt says it will automatically refund any member who books a free night with points that drops to an off-peak rate after the change takes effect – and members won’t be forced to pay more if their booking changes to a higher-priced peak period. Bottom line: Make any Hyatt award bookings before these changes take place.
If there’s a silver lining here, it’s this: Hyatt says that peak and off-peak periods will not change from the time hotel reservations open, roughly 13 months in advance. That means Hyatt won’t constantly tweak the award rates to charge more over time – what you see immediately is what you’ll get. That’s far more customer-friendly than most hotel chains handle it.
Hyatt will set the off-peak, standard, and peak period schedules by geographic area – not individually by property. So while price increases may sting, it should at least be fairly consistent.
What this Means for Using Hyatt Points
Let’s be clear: This isn’t the end of the world. Many of these increases are pretty mild. After they take effect, you may even come out ahead if you’re traveling during an off-peak time.
Hyatt is also giving travelers nearly three months of notice before the changes take place. And they’ve structured this variable pricing in a way that should make it easier to understand.
Still, this stings. Hyatt has stood out for years because of its low, predictable award rates. A free night at a basic Hyatt starts at 5,000 points per night. A night at a ritzy hotel like the Park Hyatt Tokyo or Park Hyatt New York will cost you 30,000 Hyatt points, every time.
That predictability will soon disappear. And while the award rates will still be reasonable for booking a free night during peak periods, there’s no way to disguise a 5,000-point increase as anything other than bad news.
There are two great unknowns here. First, it’s unclear exactly when Hyatt will introduce this new pricing format. It will take place sometime in March, so stay tuned for updates on a precise date.
And only time will tell how generous – or stingy – Hyatt is with the definition of what’s “off-peak” and what’s considered “peak.”
This is bad news, but don’t despair.
Instead, book your Hyatt award stays now – before this peak and off-peak pricing takes effect in March. You can either lock in a cheaper stay during a peak period now – or get refunded some points if your stay drops to off-peak pricing.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews, or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.