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Major Hotel Chain Nixes AARP Discount

That 10 percent AARP discount for Hyatt stays? Per Hyatt’s website: “Act now. Offer Expires January 31, 2016.”

AARP claims a membership base of 37 million seniors, defined somewhat generously as anyone more than 50 years old. Common sense suggests that that demographic should be a rich source for travel suppliers: consumers with the time and discretionary income to travel more frequently and stay longer. So why rescind the discount?

In response to my request to explain the company’s rationale, a Hyatt representative offered only this: “The only info I can really give is that after extensive analysis, we have decided not to renew the AARP partnership for 2016. We will continue to support this important demographic of travelers through our very successful Senior Rate Plan.”

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As for those Senior Citizen Rates, Hyatt claims discounts of “up to 50 percent on our Hyatt Daily Rate at participating Hyatt hotels and resorts in the continental U.S. and Canada.” Between the “up to” and “participating” qualifiers, there’s a lot of wiggle room there.

In fact, a quick check of Hyatt rates at some of its several Chicago properties showed identical AARP and Senior Citizen rates. If that pattern is consistent throughout the Hyatt network, then replacing the AARP discount with the Senior Citizen discount simply amounts to reducing the number of travelers who qualify, since Hyatt defines “seniors” as those who are at least 62 years old.

So, the same 10 percent discount, available to fewer travelers. From Hyatt’s standpoint, that translates into more revenue. Which would go a long way toward explaining Hyatt’s decision to cancel the AARP discount.

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After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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