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hilton-logoThe concept of elite status has been in the news quite a bit over the past few weeks.  First off, Hyatt started giving away Diamond status to just about anyone (I only got an offer to match to Platinum 🙁 )

Then Hilton got into the game – matching many people to Hilton Diamond (including me!)

Some blog comments

There were many people who already had Hyatt or Hilton Diamond (the “hard way”) that were pretty upset about this “watering down” of top-tier elite status

Here are a few of the comments I’ve gotten on some of my recent posts talking about the Hyatt and Hilton status matches:

Bottom line is Hyatt had screwed themselves over this deal!! People are mad who did not get the status and who already had status through challenges and old fashioned way! They might get the business from few but they lost business from many!

In reality it devalues the program by flooding the market with so many new DSUs which are already difficult to use.  I recommend current Diamonds to complain to Hyatt.

I am a long term (20+ years) Diamond who has qualified every year; good years and bad years. This past weekend Hyatt have the same status as I hold to people with one stay at a competitor and a credit card which gives them status.
‘Whining’ I don’t think so.
What I’m doing is calling out Hyatt on why I should remain loyal to them, when they have made the benefits that I have earned, harder to use.
No, I don’t want elite status with Marriott, it does nothing for me

Hotels and airlines don’t care about you

i-dont-careBefore I start, I should clarify what I mean when I say that hotels and airlines “don’t care” about you.

I definitely think that individual hotels and airline employees (gate agents, concierges, etc.) do take a person’s elite status into account.

For instance, a Hilton Diamond is much more likely to get a complimentary room upgrade than someone without status. Of course, as an IHG Platinum, I can’t even seem to get breakfast (even when Platinum WAS top-tier). Similarly, when Delta is looking to upgrade passengers into business class, it’s going to be the top-tier Medallions that (generally) get those upgrades.

So on a day-to-day basis, yes, elite status can provide you benefits, and generally what those benefits are something that is determined when you get your status.


But what I mean is that the higher-ups in the corporate offices that are in charge of loyalty programs don’t (really) care about you. They’re going to make decisions based on the predicted behavior of THOUSANDS if not MILLIONS of people, and you are nothing more than a bump in the road.  Heck, View from the Wing was even reporting today about a rumored change to the promises United made to “lifetime million milers”, including the following exchange between two judges and United’s lawyers during a recent court case:

Judge Hamilton: To understand the difference between lifetime and fingers crossed? That lifetime doesn’t mean lifetime?

United: That lifetime means lifetime unless…

Judge Wood: Unless we change our mind.

Judge Hamilton: Unless we change our mind.

United: Yes, that’s exactly right. That’s the case.

ill-never-shop-there-againHave you ever heard people saying things like:

“Hyatt devalued “my” Diamond status by giving it to everyone else? I’ll never stay again at Hyatt!”

“<Name of retail chain> just did <that one thing>? I’ll never shop there again!”

Ummm no. Actually you will. Or at least 95% of you will. You can pretend you’re one of the 5% that will sacrifice your own best interests to make a point that nobody will care about, but the reality is, you’re probably not.

See, there’s a reason that you chose to say, fly United or stay at Marriott.  You did it because it was in your best interest.  Maybe you live near a United hub, or Marriott has the best hotels for the location(s) where you frequently stay.

Now, that isn’t to say that it isn’t wise to periodically re-evaluate your airfare and lodging decisions, especially in light of new information, but let’s take Hyatt for an example. For every current Hyatt Diamond that stops staying at Hyatt because of the recent uptick in the number of elites, I bet there’s FIVE new Hyatt Diamonds that will be staying more and more with Hyatt. Now you can see why Hyatt might do something like that.

The concept of “Be your own elite” (BYOE)

Which brings me to the concept of “Be your own elite” (BYOE).  I believe this was first introduced at the excellent (though now defunct?) Milenomics blog – Be your own elite in 2014.  The concept is, instead of spending marginal dollars

The simple fact is that you should always be re-evaluating your decisions, and when you have elite status, that makes it harder to make a rational decision, because it’s very easy to get emotionally attached to a given airline / hotel chain.

Note that I’m talking mainly to casual / leisure travelers.  People that are traveling a lot for business (usually on someone else’s dime) are playing by a different set of rules.

For everyone else, take a step back – think about the benefits that you get from your elite status, compared to what you might be able to get as a regular member (or with middling status from a credit card), and decide if it’s really worth it to you.

And it very well may be!  Just don’t think that your “favorite” hotel or airline cares about you – they don’t!

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