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Good friends of ours are moving across the country from California to Missouri. Since I know moving is expensive and they are trying to keep their costs down, I happily booked them a night at a hotel near Denver using my Hyatt points.

However, a late start plus some issues with their moving truck put them quite a bit behind schedule. It became obvious they weren’t going to make Denver as planned. I wondered what would happen to the night I’d booked. Would the hotel let me change it last minute?

Will Hyatt let me change the award night?

I ended up calling the Hyatt Place Denver Tech Center the same day that they should have arrived. I’d previously put the award in their name, but was able to discuss the reservation with the front desk agent, explaining the situation. I anticipated that I might either lose the points, and/or even have to shell out some cash to cover the night.

Luckily, she informed me that they were already overbooked and that there was still some space for the following night. As long as I got back to her soon (I still needed to cement other plans), she would gladly move the award to the following night. Sweet.

Now to deal with the current night

Next up was calling Hyatt reservations to figure out what to do for them that night. I found (or thought I found) a potential award online that would accommodate their brood. Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that there are 7 of them. Even though they shipped two kids out early, they managed to pick up two more stragglers. Don’t ask how or why. That’s just how they roll.

Obviously this throws a wrinkle in the plans. No standard award rooms can hold that many people. So…it would either be a suite, or maybe two rooms?

Are there really ZERO award nights available near SLC?!?!

I quickly searched the Hyatt website for options near Salt Lake City. Since I’d keyed in 2 adults and 4 kids into the search, a very limited list of hotels came up. But there were a couple category 1 and 2 properties in the suburbs that would be just perfect.

Or not. After calling Hyatt reservations, I struck out again and again. The representative was amiable enough, but after 4 properties didn’t turn up award space, including suite space, I was beginning to get aggravated.

It was then I realized that I’d trusted the “Show me the Points” plugin to show actual availability, when it only shows the points cost if any rooms are available!!

No, you can’t book cash & points

Right as I was thinking about turning to Marriott, we finally hit an award at the Hyatt Place Farmington. There was just one wrinkle: only one room was available, with a max occupancy of 3 people. It was a standard king + sofabed.

Now here is where the fuzzy “large family ethics” kick in. If I hadn’t told the rep I was looking for a room for 6 people (totally forgetting that this changed to 7 at the last minute!), I could have booked the one room and let my friends figure it out. They totally would have been willing to make it work.

But no. I had decided to go the route of actually trying to find the required amount of space, and I was gonna stick to it.

After a bit more searching, the rep told me that an ADA room was available for cash and points as well as the original room. Sweet…it would only be 7,500 points and $50. I’d settle for that.

Except he then immediately backpedaled when I told him I was booking for friends. Apparently only full award nights can be booked for other people. He wouldn’t budge when I asked him to make an exception. I may or may not have given him an earful at that moment about the general gutting of the Hyatt Gold Passport program and the inability to use my points as I desired…

*Poof* – here is your award space

I kept him on the line as I went back to the Hyatt website to search some more. A minute or so later, he said “you know, I could see if the hotel is playing games with inventory.”

Now…I have no idea what that means. Maybe it has to do with what comes up in the search based on the parameters? All I know is that less than a minute later he had managed to find a room with two queens in addition to the king + sofabed. I told him to book it before he finished talking.

It came to 10,000 Hyatt points for 2 rooms for the 7 of them, but it was a complete steal. Not only was I able to help friends, but at $146 per night before tax for each room, I was getting over 3 cents per Hyatt point. Last minute travel hacking win!

[Presto Change-o I’ll make your award space… DISAPPEAR!]

Conclusion

Figuring all this out was honestly fun (once the Hyatt rep managed to magically find award space). I enjoy these types of challenges, nearly as much as I enjoy maximizing my points and helping out friends.

This experience taught me a couple things: (1) Don’t settle right away if a rep tells you “no”. Because I persisted, he managed to dig up some space. There is always the HUCA option as well. (2) Booking last minute can certainly be done. I don’t often book hotels last minute, but having points has sure come in handy (SEE: Last night, miles and points really saved my bacon).

All I’m left wondering is what kind of behind-the-scenes magic happened to pull up the extra award room.

Featured image courtesy of Eva Paris under CC 2.0 license

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