Back when we knew no better, Hyatt announced that they’d be implementing category changes for a bunch of their properties that would take place in March 2020.
To go along with that, they’d also introduce peak and off-peak pricing in addition to standard pricing for award bookings.
Well, something else significant happened in March 2020 which caused Hyatt to delay these changes. The changes were postponed until March 2021 and then postponed again until October 2021 for stays starting in March 2022.
We’re awaiting confirmation from Hyatt as to the exact date we’ll see the change in pricing for stays from March 2022 along with a list of the properties changing category, but it’ll likely happen in the next few days.
As a result, it might be worth making some reservations now for stays you’re planning from March 2022 onwards. That’s because there could be some significant pricing changes at the property (or properties) you’re interested in.
For example, let’s say the hotel you’re interested in is currently a category 5 property. As things stand, that costs 20,000 points per night. If that hotel goes up to a category 6 property, its standard pricing will increase to 25,000 points per night. That’s not the worst case scenario though. If that property were to be peak priced during your dates, it’ll cost you 29,000 points per night. That’s a 45% increase in cost which is a significant difference.
It wouldn’t necessarily be as bad as that though. That’s because peak pricing isn’t the only change coming into play – off-peak pricing will become a thing too. If a property goes up from category 5 to category 6 but is subsequently priced at the off-peak rate, you’d pay 21,000 points per night which is only 1,000 points per night more than it is at its current category 5 rate. We don’t have any clue yet how widespread peak and off-peak pricing will be, but I have more faith in Hyatt to not play a lot of games with this compared to a company like Marriott.
For reference, here’s a table detailing the off-peak, standard and peak pricing levels:
If you have a bunch of World of Hyatt points sitting in your account, making reservations now for potential stays from March 2022 onwards can make sense seeing as in the majority of cases you’ll be able to cancel without penalty and get your points back. If the hotel(s) you book subsequently get priced at the off-peak rate, you could cancel and rebook your stay to take advantage of that pricing discrepancy.
Side note: always be sure to check the cancellation terms for stays – even on award bookings. During large events, the cancellation policy for award bookings can be significantly more restrictive.
For example, I’d looked into booking a Hyatt property for the Kentucky Derby a couple of years ago. Despite wanting to make an award booking, the property would also have taken an immediate deposit for the entire cash cost of our stay which came to ~$3,000. We were booking the stay many months in advance, so we’d have had to float that $3,000 until after the event. If we cancelled the award booking, we’d have gotten the points back but would’ve lost the $3,000. Although we were fairly sure we wouldn’t need to book, I wasn’t willing to risk $3,000 and so we booked with a different chain instead. This certainly isn’t a common situation, but it’s one to keep an eye out for during periods of high demand where you might be expecting to see peak pricing come into play.
As mentioned above, if you have Hyatt points in your account already, making bookings now for March 2022 onward makes sense. However, what if you don’t have enough points in your Hyatt account but do have a healthy balance of Chase Ultimate Rewards points – should you speculatively transfer points?
Although we normally recommend not making speculative transfers from transferable currencies, this is a scenario where it could make sense – especially if you’d likely transfer Ultimate Rewards to Hyatt in the future anyway. With category changes and peak pricing leading to an increase of up to 90% in award costs per night (category 1 current pricing of 5,000 points per night going up to 9,500 points per night under category 2 peak pricing), a speculative transfer could save you a substantial number of points.
To me, there isn’t too much danger in making a speculative transfer provided it won’t leave you short of Ultimate Rewards for other travel you might want to book. If the property you book subsequently goes up in price – whether due to category changes and/or peak pricing – you’ve saved yourself points by booking now. If nothing changes, you simply have extra World of Hyatt points sitting in your account for future bookings. For Hyatt fans, you’d likely need those points anyway.