Loyalty Traveler

Loyalty Traveler


I check star ratings before watching a movie. A two, three or four-star rating helps me select movies. Why not rate hotel loyalty promotions to provide guidance for frequent guests investing significant time and money in hotels?

Several Web sites and magazines list promotions, and some analyze, but no one ranks promotions across hotel chains. The frequent guest has the choice of many loyalty promotions with little guidance to their relative value. Starwood, IHG, Best Western and Marriott all have summer free night promotions. Which one is the best deal for the guest not already wed to one of these hotel chains?

Movies have stars, hotels have keys.
Loyalty Traveler’s Ranking of Summer Hotel Promotions on a Five-key Scale:

Five keys is a promotion I consider one of the best deals of the year.

  • Hyatt Gold Passport complimentary elite status for 120 days. Complete five nights during trial membership for 2010 platinum status or 15 nights for diamond status. You want upgrades? Hyatt is giving them away: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1693
  • IHG Priority Club free night after two paid nights extended to Aug. 15, 2009. Alternatively you can select double points or miles: www.getafreenight.com.

Four keysis a high value rebate on the cost of hotel stays.

  • Marriott Rewards redeem three nights for the price of two at Resorts through Sept. 7, 2009: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1693
  • Starwood Hotels Birth Year Rate. Some great savings at high cost properties if you are old, or even not so old: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1694
  • Wyndham Rewards 10,000 miles for stays in three different brands. Great offer for economy hotel stays in brands like Days Inn, Ramada and Howard Johnson.
    Wyndham also has a ‘Save Summer’ Million Points contest: http://www.wyndhamrewards.com/save

Three keys is a promotion offering a good value bonus.

  • Best Western Rewards earn a 16,000-point free night voucher after two stays. Limited by low level redemption voucher and a two voucher earning limit. Possibility to buy extra points or combine the voucher with existing points for a higher category hotel redemption raises this from two keys: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1695
  • Hilton Hotels — Two nights B&B for price of one in Europe, Asia-Pacific and Africa: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1696
  • Hyatt Gold Passport 2,500 points per stay with MasterCard payment through Sept. 15: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1697
  • InterContinental Hotels 10,000 bonus points per stay. The promotional rate plan tends to be higher. A good deal for one night stays: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1698
  • Marriott Rewards free night after three stays through Aug. 31, 2009. Free night restricted to Category 4 or lower hotels. Registration ended June 30.

Two keys is a bonus if you play, but don’t go out of your way to stay.

  • Best Western airline miles for gift card purchase: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1699
    Earn miles for purchasing the card and then earn more miles (250 miles per stay) or points (10 points per $1) from hotel stays paid with travel card. AAdvantage has the best earning ratio at 500 miles per $50.

  • Carlson Hotels goldpoints plus earn 1,000 bonus points per night or 10,000 points with five nights through Aug. 31, 2009. Cash and Points awards offer some good redemption values: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1700
  • Choice Privileges 14,000 points for three stays through Aug. 13, 2009. Redeem for $50 cash card: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1701
  • Hilton HHonors 10,000 points for minimum three-night stay at Conrad or Waldorf through Sept. 30, 2009: http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1702

One key is a bonus offer generally gutted by higher room rates or fine print restrictions. Why bother readers with one key promotions?

Rate discounts and loyalty program bonuses are two types of hotel chain incentives to consider when booking travel. The value of a room rate discount is easy to calculate. Compare the promotional room rate with other available room rates, and select the best value. There has been no better time in years to get complimentary breakfast and free hotel parking at no extra cost.

Hotel loyalty promotions are more difficult to evaluate. The cost to fulfill a promotion is variable. Cost depends on hotel brand, location and dates of hotel stays. Hotel points, airline miles and free nights only have potential value in terms of money not spent in the future for nights or flights or some other tangible benefit.

My rating key for hotel promotions is an attempt to provide a tool for frequent guests. Most of these promotions have been analyzed in detail on my Loyalty Traveler blog. Key rankings are debatable, but designed to focus your attention on the best offers. Good hotel promotions can double the value of your hotel travel spending.

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