In recent years, the major hotel loyalty programmes – although oddly not the airlines – have invested heavily in ‘experiences’ platforms.
The idea is to offer loyalty programme members the chance to redeem their points for something different – some business travellers are happy to keep away from chain hotels in their spare time! – and let members benefit from existing corporate sponsorship deals or commercial relationships.
We often cover these redemptions on HfP because we have a London-centric readership and many of these events take place here. It is not unusual for 100% of the tickets for a London ‘experiences’ event to be taken by our readers, as with the recent Hilton ‘secret’ Stormzy gig.
Marriott leads the field with Marriott Moments, followed by Hilton. IHG has just relaunched its platform with UK-centric events. Accor has a partnership with the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith and partners with the annual ‘Taste of London’ food festival.
Hyatt is joining the party, but with a twist
World of Hyatt has recently launched its own take on ‘experiences’ redemptions with FIND.
(Full disclosure: Hyatt flew me to New York to attend the launch party for FIND and meet Amy Weinberg, who runs World of Hyatt. You’ll be pleased to hear that I used the time trying to persuade her to launch a transfer partnership in the UK with American Express Membership Rewards! I stayed at Hyatt’s Thompson Central Park which I reviewed here.)
FIND is different to other hotel ‘experiences’ platforms in three ways:
- there is a specific focus on wellbeing, with a focus on Feel (the mind), Fuel (the body) and Function (activities)
- instead of one-off events, FIND consists primarily of on-going repeatable experiences which you can book in core cities where Hyatt operates – although there will be occasional special events available
- you can redeem World of Hyatt points for these experiences, but you can also buy them for cash (and earn elite qualifying points back)
There are currently over 200 FIND experiences which you can book across 85 locations in 30 countries.
What experiences are available via FIND?
If I’m honest, it is a mixed bag in Europe at the moment.
In order to get critical mass, it seems that Hyatt has linked up with some third-party providers of city tours and added them onto the platform. The prices do not offer good value in many cases.
What ARE attractive are the events and packages which have been curated by the hotels themselves. These are more interesting and better value for money.
My hope – and Hyatt’s hope (I hope) – is that its hotels will engage with FIND and create enough genuinely interesting exclusive experiences to allow it to quietly retire some of the third party ones.
Let’s look at some examples in Europe:
- PARIS – have dinner at the Chef’s Table at Pur (Michelin starred) at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome – I consider this good value at $223 or 15,196 World of Hyatt points per person
- PARIS – enjoy a picnic in a Paris park with a wicker basket full of refreshments, salads and charcuterie – you can’t argue with the cost of $41 or 2,963 World of Hyatt points
- PRAGUE – a day trip to Saaz to learn about Czech beer including a visit to the craft brewery that supplies Andaz Prague (I am typing this in the stunning Andaz Prague, review to follow, and the hotel set this up for FIND) – $161 or 11,397 World of Hyatt points per person including car and driver
These are interesting, and there are more of them. For example, at Thompson Madrid which we reviewed recently, you can spend the day with chef Nino Redruello. After joining him for an ingredient shopping tour of local markets, you can join him in his kitchen as he prepares a gourmet dinner for you. This would be a genuinely unique experience.
However, you also get second tier experiences like this:
- LONDON – private walking tour of the Great Fire of London sites in the CIty – $420 or 29,950 World of Hyatt points per person
- LONDON – private walking tour of London Bridge, South Bank, Borough Market – $363 or 25,974 World of Hyatt points per person
Not exactly a bargain. There isn’t anything in the UK at the moment which is specifically created by any of the Hyatt hotels, and so you are left with some random third party tours. Hyatt needs to put pressure on more of its European properties to create FIND options in line with the Paris and Prague examples above.
How does the maths work on earning or redeeming World of Hyatt points?
You get 1.4 cents per World of Hyatt point when you redeem for a FIND experience. This is very much at the top of end of what we value Hyatt points at – although you will do better at peak properties at peak times – so using points instead of cash is not a bad choice.
You also have the option of taking a $150 FIND credit as a Milestone Reward for hitting 40 elite nights in your Hyatt membership year.
However, if you do pay cash, you will earn 10 World of Hyatt points per $1. This is a strong rebate of around 15% based on our valuation of World of Hyatt points and arguably tilts the balance towards paying cash.
Hotel stays only earn 5 points per $1, so you’re getting double that. Elite members of World of Hyatt get their 10% to 30% status bonuses on top.
These points also count towards annual and lifetime status.
I think FIND has real potential, but only if the hotels ‘buy in’ and put unique experiences on the table.
It shouldn’t be that difficult, for example, to arrange special dining experiences at hotels with high profile restaurants, or special spa packages. There will also be opportunities to play off existing relationships that hotels have with their suppliers or neighbours.
It is worth keeping an eye on. Remember that you don’t need to be staying at a Hyatt hotel to book a FIND experience and you don’t even need any World of Hyatt points, as each experience has a cash alternative.
PS. My review of Andaz Prague will follow over Christmas …. it is very good
World of Hyatt update – January 2023:
Get bonus points: World of Hyatt is not currently running a global promotion.
New to World of Hyatt? Read our overview of World of Hyatt here and our article on points expiry rules here. Our article on what we think World of Hyatt points are worth is here.
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