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Hyatt to Give Diamond Members Fast Track though Security
[Apr 2006 Issue]
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Hyatt Hotels & Resorts will offer select Gold Passport members the opportunity to sign up for the "Registered Traveler" program designed to give cardholders quick access to airport security lanes. Hyatt says it has partnered with Verified Identity Pass Inc., the New York firm that is marketing the Clear card used in the registered traveler program.

VIP told card experts at Card Technology it expects Hyatt to buy "tens of thousands" of the cards. Hyatt will offer a complimentary Clear membership to Diamond-level members of Gold Passport.

VIP prices Clear membership at $79.95 a year. The registered traveler program currently doesn't include a payment feature; however, there is speculation the cards could include that option in the future.

Business travelers are one of the most highly sought consumer demographics by card issuers. A recent survey by the National Business Travel Association found that 92 percent of frequent business travelers -- those who made eight or more business trips a year by air -- said they were interested in a registered traveler program.

Dennis Moroney, a senior analyst at consultant The Tower Group Inc., told Card Technology that credit card issuers probably are looking at a similar arrangement with VIP to offer it as a loyalty perk. "For the upscale products, it's a great add-on," Moroney said.

The registered traveler program currently operates only at Orlando International Airport. The Clear card verifies the identity of the cardholder by matching a live fingerprint or iris scan at a kiosk with a biometric stored on a chip on the smart card. Card applicants must pass a background check by the federal Transportation Security Administration. To date, VIP has about 15,000 Clear members in Orlando. The company also has agreements to launch the program at San Jose's Norman Y. Mineta airport, and at the Indianapolis International Airport.

Hyatt and VIP expect to install Clear enrollment stations at select Hyatt hotels. A national launch of the registered traveler program is expected this June, the TSA says. The government has mandated that a card issued by any registered traveler program be accepted by all providers of the fast-lane service.

Note: While a good idea -- until a majority of airports are on the same program -- it may well not be much of a benefit and it is still unknown what the fate of the current "elite" security lines at a number of airports will play in this.


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