When looking for the best hotel loyalty programs in award travel, I’m often concerned with elements such as the value per point, the ease of earning and redeeming points, and specific benefits, such as free breakfast and waived fees, that have an especially high utility for my travel preferences.

This leaves me with the “best” hotel loyalty programs from an entirely pragmatic perspective. In other words, I gravitate to them because I find them useful. It’s an analytical exercise for the most part. The hotels don’t really have a high amount of loyalty from me. They may run a “loyalty” program, but if that program stopped being useful, I’d move to another.

But there is one thing that really helps drive actual loyalty: when a hotel goes above and beyond to rescue a service mishap.

a man and woman standing at a desk

Why Rescuing a Service Failure Speaks to Customers

When a hotel goes above and beyond to rectify a service incident with a guest, they show that they really do care about that guest’s loyalty. Much of the time, all a guest really wants is to have the hotel acknowledge the incident and make whatever amends they can.

The response to a service failure can take a negative experience for a guest and turn it into a highly positive one. This is what can make or break a guest’s loyalty. A solid response strategy is highly important for hotel brands. Responding well builds trust. Any customer service failure is a moment of disappointment for a guest, so if a hotel can respond in a way that erases all of that, it will speak volumes.

Conversely, not being cared about speaks volumes to guests as well. A poor customer service response can quickly end a relationship between brand and customer. The times that I’ve mentioned an issue and had a hotel basically say,  “tough luck”, or not even acknowledge it shows that they really don’t have a service culture.

It’s easy for guests to write off a brand as their response to even just a couple service failures. Hotel guests usually have choices, and if a hotel fails to deliver, it’s pretty easy to move on. That’s why a rescuing any customer service failures is so critical for hotels.

My Recent Experience at The Grand Hyatt at SFO

I recently stayed at the Grand Hyatt at SFO after arriving back from Europe. The flight arrived in the evening, rates were (relatively) cheap, and the brand-new SFO airport hotel is super convenient. It was one of my most anticipated hotels this year, as we fly in and out of SFO often.

After booking, I’d called Hyatt to attach a Club Upgrade certificate. Since I’m still a couple nights away from Globalist, I wouldn’t have club access. The upgrade certificates are good through next year, but I won’t have much of a use for them once I’m Globalist. Even though it was a one night stay, it was worth using the certificate.

The call to add the certificate was quick and the rep assured me it had been added to the reservation. However, when I arrived, there was no mention of club access. I’d requested an upgrade to a runway view room, which was accommodated, but the front desk said they didn’t see a club upgrade on file.

I decided that it would be best to take things up with Hyatt corporate, as this is who processes these. Hyatt Twitter is a great place to turn to when you have a service issue, as the team is responsive and empowered to provide solutions.

a room with a couch and tables

Grand Club – Grand Hyatt at SFO

After confirming my stay and account details, they had the issue rectified within 10 minutes. The Twitter rep noted that she saw the certificate attached. She reached out to the Grand Hyatt, and a manager called me a few minutes later. They would run me up a new key with Club access, and he offered his apologies. All was made right, and very quickly.

a message on a cellphone

But Hyatt went way beyond that. The Twitter rep proceeded to add 10,000 points to my account. This was just going above and beyond. These are worth $150-200, so this was an extremely generous offer for a mere 10 minutes of mild inconvenience.

Hyatt Gets It

With an attractive award chart and excellent elite program, World of Hyatt is by far my favorite hotel loyalty program. I’ve almost always enjoyed good treatment at Hyatt properties, not to mention most are very nice. I’m a fan of the program in general.

But it is moments like these that cement my loyalty. The willingness to not only make things right resonates with me. Providing the expected is (usually) easy. Going the extra mile when things go sideways is what shows a guest that you really do care about their loyalty.

I’ll be doing my best to maintain my status next year, even if it costs me more than $0 out of pocket.