Several Hyatt hotels have figured out a trick to save themselves money and cheat members out of points. And there’s nothing that Hyatt will do about it, so they can get away with it with impunity.
Normally hotels have to buy the points that members earn while staying as a guest (or while dining or using spa services, while not a registered guest). But if they don’t award the points, they don’t have to buy them. And there’s at least one category of spending that they can just opt out of without telling anyone and they’ll never be questioned.
Most hotels award points for spending on alcohol. That’s the highest margin thing they sell, and they want to incentivize alcohol sales. But even better for a hotel is using the incentive as points – because guests will think they’re earning for their spend – while not actually awarding the points.
According to the World of Hyatt terms, spending on beverages should usually earn points:
“Eligible Incidental Charges” vary depending on the applicable hotel, resort, or other participating property, but generally include resort/destination fee, additional-cleaning fees (where applicable), spa, food, beverage and lounge expenditures (except at outlets not operated by the hotel or resort) and other charges, such as laundry, dry cleaning, and telephone. Points will not be awarded on alcoholic beverage purchases in certain jurisdictions/countries or at certain properties.
However if a hotel says their property doesn’t award points for alcohol purchases, that’s the end of the story – even though this opt-out is only supposed to be used to comply with laws around alcohol sales, where those apply.
What’s remarkable is that numerous hotels have stopped awarding points for alcohol where there are no locals laws prohibiting it and indeed I’ve earned points at other hotels in the same city. And Hyatt won’t push back.
Here’s a Hyatt Regency doing it:
And a Hyatt JdV:
Here’s a Hyatt Place:
And another Hyatt Place:
A Hyatt spokesperson confirms that the intention of the terms that allow ‘certain’ hotels not to award points for alcohol purchases is that some jurisdictions do not permit incentivizing alcohol sales. It’s supposed to be an ‘out’ so that hotels aren’t breaking laws or regulations.
However Hyatt doesn’t keep a list of hotels that are supposed to be exempt. They only offer guidance to hotels on which charges beyond room rate should earn points and hotels decide for themselves without repercussion whether or not they award points for alcohol spend. So even if they withhold points despite no local rules prohibiting it, Hyatt won’t do anything about it. As it was explained to me,
World of Hyatt provides general direction to hotels on eligible and ineligible incidental charges. With respect to alcohol, this is left up to the hotels as they have a closer understanding of local laws/restrictions so we don’t require hotels to offer points on alcohol. Members may inquire with a particular property on eligibility.
Many hotels just combine all food and beverage spend into a single line. Some separate it out but still award points, as they are supposed to. But still other hotels have figured out that they can avoid paying for points on alcohol spend and Hyatt won’t do anything about it.
One response to a customer even shows how simple it is for a property to opt out of awarding points.
So what does this mean?
- The guest chooses the Hyatt restaurant thinking they’ll earn points
- Goes for a nicer bottle on an expense-able meal, or picks up drinks, figuring they’ll earn points
- The hotel gets the business, the guest doesn’t get their points, World of Hyatt doesn’t get the revenue
What hotels are doing is free riding on chain brands and getting away with it. The long-term cost is to the brand. But they’ll do it if they can save a few pennies in the meantime.