What to do when a hotel doesn’t want to honor your elite benefits
Hotel elite status offers many valuable perks, from complimentary breakfast and upgrades to late checkout and higher earning rates. These perks are often designed to keep members loyal to and engaged with a program, including those with popular hotel credit cards.
And it works. I usually book hotels directly to ensure I get my elite benefits and earnings. For some stays, I’ll book with a particular loyalty program primarily to utilize a specific hotel elite status benefit, such as a 4 p.m. late checkout.
Some elite status perks are provided on a space-available basis or at the hotel’s discretion, making them difficult to rely on. But select perks — such as 4 p.m. late checkout for Hyatt Globalists and Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite and higher members — are to be provided by properties except under specific circumstances outlined in the program terms and conditions.
It can be particularly disappointing when a property doesn’t provide perks as expected. But how should you handle it if a hotel doesn’t provide a perk you believe you should get? Here are some options and aspects to consider.
Related: The best credit cards to reach elite status
Check the program terms
Your first step should be to check the loyalty program terms. After all, some benefits are given on a space-available basis or at the property’s discretion instead of being perks you should expect to get on every stay.
For example, consider the late-checkout policies for four major hotel loyalty programs:
- World of Hyatt: Discoverist and Explorist members get 2 p.m. late checkout upon request (subject to availability at hotels with a casino, Hyatt resorts and Destination by Hyatt Residences locations; not offered at Vacation Ownership Properties). World of Hyatt Globalist members get 4 p.m. late checkout upon request with the same caveats.
- Marriott Bonvoy: Platinum Elite and higher members get 4 p.m. late checkout upon request at most participating properties. The exceptions are Design Hotels and resort and convention hotels, where the benefit is based on availability, and Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Vistana properties, Ritz-Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach and Ritz-Carlton Reserve, which don’t offer this benefit. Gold Elite and Silver Elite members can request late checkout, but it’s at an earlier time and subject to availability.
- Hilton Honors: All Hilton elite members can request late checkout, subject to availability.
- IHG One Rewards: All IHG elite members can request up to 2 p.m. late checkout, subject to availability.
When I stay at a World of Hyatt property as a Globalist member or at a Marriott Bonvoy property as a Platinum Elite member, I know at booking whether I’ll be eligible for a 4 p.m. late checkout. After all, the excluded and subject-to-availability properties are well defined. But, if I stay with Hilton or IHG, I know I’ll have to wait until at least check-in to request late checkout and that my request might be denied.
Late checkout is just one elite status perk. But I provide the above example to highlight that you should check the terms and conditions to see whether your stay is eligible and whether the program clearly requires the property to provide the perk.
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Related: Is hotel elite status worth it anymore?
Let it go
If a perk is provided on a subjective or space-available basis, I’ll usually ask at check-in and then let it go if the front desk agent says it isn’t available. After all, some hotels are much more generous with elite benefits than others.
For example, if I see the Hyatt Regency I’m checking in to is still selling upgraded rooms for my dates when I arrive, I’ll ask whether an upgrade is available (if the agent doesn’t proactively provide the upgrade). In the case of the Hyatt Regency brand, here’s what the World of Hyatt terms and conditions say:
“Globalists will receive the best room available at the time of check-in at Hyatt hotels and resorts, including standard suites and rooms with club lounge access. The best room available will be determined by the applicable hotel or resort in its sole discretion and may vary from stay to stay.”
However, the front desk agent may say there’s no upgrade availability or that I already have the best room available. If so, I’ll let it go. After all, Hyatt’s terms clearly state that the hotel can decide what rooms are “available” for upgrades.
It’s reasonable to ask for your published elite perks. But I don’t push for subjective perks if the hotel doesn’t want to offer them.
Related: How to redeem Hyatt points for upgraded rooms and suites
Ask to speak with a supervisor or manager
If a benefit is well defined in a program’s terms and conditions and your stay is eligible, your next stop after asking the front desk to honor the perk is to ask for a supervisor or manager. Granted, there may not be a more senior staff member on-site at smaller properties or late at night.
For example, if a Holiday Inn check-in agent is insistent that breakfast isn’t a welcome amenity choice for Diamond Elite members — or that you only get breakfast for one person or on one day (you should get breakfast for the member and one guest registered to the same room for each night of the stay) — I’d ask for a manager or supervisor and encourage them to consult the program terms.
Note that some programs offer benefit guarantees, such as Marriott Bonvoy and InterContinental Ambassador. However, you may need to claim that you encountered problems during your stay rather than waiting until afterward. For example, the Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions state:
“If an elite Member believes that compensation is due with respect to any aspect of the Elite Benefits Guarantee, he/she must request payment of the compensation while still a guest at the participating property, prior to checking out. Failure to request such payment prior to check out will result in a complete waiver of any right to receive such compensation.”
If you see that the program’s benefit guarantees cover your missing elite benefit, bring up the guarantee and try to come to a resolution with the hotel management. However, you may need to engage directly with the loyalty program to address the concern.
Related: What is World of Hyatt elite status worth?
Call or chat with the program
Another option if a hotel doesn’t want to provide well-defined elite benefits is to call or chat with the loyalty program. It’s best to try to work with the front desk staff and any available managers or supervisors first. However, suppose a manager isn’t around or doesn’t agree with your interpretation of the program’s terms and conditions. In that case, the loyalty program’s phone line or social media agents may be able to help.
For example, when the staff at a Hyatt Place property denied my request for a 4 p.m. late checkout as a Globalist member, I double-checked Hyatt’s terms and conditions and then sent a direct message to Hyatt Concierge on Twitter to ask for help. After a little back and forth to clarify the situation, Hyatt Concierge called the hotel and sorted my 4 p.m. late checkout.
Related: What is Marriott Bonvoy elite status worth?
File a complaint with the loyalty program
Finally, if the issue is bad enough and you haven’t been able to resolve it through the above means, you might consider filing a complaint with the hotel loyalty program. Especially if you are staying multiple nights, calling the elite line for your program during your stay is best.
Contacting the loyalty program during your stay allows the program to solve the issue by talking to the hotel. As noted above, some programs offering benefit guarantees require you to make any claims (and use the resulting property credits you might receive from your claims) during your stay.
Related: Comparing the best hotel elite status tiers and how to earn them
It’s not uncommon to come across front desk agents at hotels who are new or don’t understand elite benefits. But, with some patience and (occasionally) escalating to a more experienced staff member, you’ll usually get well-defined hotel elite status benefits like welcome amenities, late checkout and breakfast benefits honored. You should rarely need to get the loyalty program involved.
Unfortunately, subjective and space-available perks are a different story. And some hotels are more generous with these perks than others. So, it’s important to know which perks are well-defined by your program’s terms and conditions and which benefits are subjective or only available as space permits.