Taking a page out of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) playbook, Hyatt will start counting award stays toward elite status qualifying nights on January 1, 2018. An official announcement is expected later today, but this could be big news for some.

For those with tons of Chase Ultimate Rewards points, the ability to transfer points to Hyatt and earn elite status credit for award stays could be huge. Previously, you could book a Cash + Points stays that counted toward elite status but availability isn’t always great.

With a standard award, you just need a standard room to be available and you will be able to book a stay. This also removes the cash component required which could be very important if you’re shooting for top-tier Globalist elite status—requires 60 nights.

Globalist status comes with a number of perks including Club Lounge access at Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency properties and free breakfast at Hyatt properties without lounges. Additionally, Globalist members are also eligible to receive upgraded room up to a standard suite if available. They also receive 4 suite upgrade awards that can be used to upgrade an award or cash stay upon booking.

While award stays can help you reach each elite status tier a bit quicker, this is the one that really packs the biggest punch. Just below Globalist is Explorist which requires 30 qualifying nights. It does include some nice perks such as 4 club lounge access awards. Discoverist status can be warned with 10 qualifying nights but just holding the Chase Hyatt credit card gets you Discoverist status—it doesn’t do that much for you.

Beyond the change to elite status qualification, a couple other changes have been made to the World of Hyatt program. Upon reaching 30 qualifying nights (Explorist), members receive a free night certificate for a Category 1-4 hotel. Previously, this certificate expired after 120 days but members will now have 180 days to use the certificate. Similarly, the free night certificate earned upon reaching 60 nights (Globalist) that can be used at any Category 1-7 property will also be valid for 180 days instead of 120 days.

All in all, these are positive changes across the board. With all the devaluations we saw this year, it’s nice to end on a positive note. If Hyatt really wanted to do something nice for its members, they could change the qualifying nights requirement back to what it was pre-2017 under the old Hyatt Gold Passport program when 50 nights (or 25 stays) earned top-tier elite status.

In the end, this isn’t going to be a huge development for many, but it could be a nice boost for those close to Globalist or Explorist status. It also might incentivize people to stick with Hyatt even though it has a smaller footprint that hotel chains such as Marriott, Hilton, or IHG.

As someone who spends a good chunk of the year in hotels with a combination of paid and award stays, it certainly has me pondering whether I should consider shooting for Globalist. The sticking points comes down to Hyatt’s small footprint though as I travel around the world and don’t always have access to Hyatt properties.

Even if earning Globalist status fit my travel plans, I still wouldn’t be able to utilize the benefits until late in the year or until 2019… oh wait, that’s what Hyatt wants! Hook you, then make you keep coming back for more just to experience the perks.

What does this change mean for you? Will you try to earn elite status with Hyatt because of the change? 

*Image courtesy of Hyatt