One year ago I had concerns we would see a major scaling down of hotel loyalty promotions in 2012. Downsizing promotion bonuses happened as room occupancy hit high levels and room rates reached record highs in many places globally. Yet, regularly announced hotel promotions still retain high rebate value.
Hyatt Gold Passport members can earn 65,000 points after 35 nights in three months ending Nov. 30, 2012. Hyatt offered 44,000 points with 16 nights during three months at the beginning of the year. You needed 51 nights in six months to maximize these offers. That is living in hotels for business or qualifying for Diamond elite the hard way for leisure travelers.
Hyatt did not offer a free night promotion for hotel stays in 2012. Until 2010 Hyatt Gold Passport regularly offered one free night for two paid stays; earning five free hotel nights at any Hyatt Hotel in the world for staying as few as 10 paid hotel nights. Hyatt in 2012 takes 40 or 50 nights to earn five free nights at top category hotels. Of course, points are better than free nights if you plan to stay in lower category hotels or desire room upgrades using points.
Hyatt Visa recently made it easier to reach Diamond elite with five elite stays and 10 elite nights credit after $40,000 in spend. Retaining Hyatt Diamond on the cheap in 2012 is harder without a “Stays Count Double” promotion common in past years.
Starwood Preferred Guest promotions in 2012 have focused on longer stays. SPG is repeating their offer “Better by the Night” with double points for one- or two-night stays and triple points for three-nights or longer stays. This offer is almost identical to the January to April 2012 promotion with the same name. These bonuses are spend based. The current iPhone app 500 points booking bonus is good value, but exclusive. Without an iPhone the booking bonus is only 250 points at spg.com.
SPG elite membership goals for 2012 are easier to reach. SPG program changes to credit award stays and nights for elite qualification, including Cash & Points stays and promotional free nights is fairer for active SPG members than elite fast-track “Stays Count Double” promotions common in past years. SPG American Express members also receive two elite stays and five elite nights credit annually. Personal and business AMEX credit card members earn four stays and 10 nights double elite credit annually.
Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond and SPG Platinum both require 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year. Counting award nights makes SPG elite easier to earn in 2012.
Hilton HHonors bonus miles promotions may be more valuable than earning Points & Points through Dec. 31, 2012. Several frequent flyer programs offer bonus miles: Delta, Miles & More, Emirates and Virgin Atlantic. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club allows a member to earn 15,000 bonus miles after five Hilton brand stays. You also earn the standard 1,000 miles per stay at full-service Hilton brands. Potentially you can earn 20,000 Flying Club miles with as few as five hotel nights, then exchange 20,000 miles into 40,000 Hilton HHonors points. That is 8,000 HHonors bonus points per night.
Club Carlson ends the year with more free night offers. Earn one free night at any Radisson globally after one paid night at a Radisson in the U.S. or Canada from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012. Earn a free Country Inn night after a two-night Country Inn stay by Nov. 29. “More Nights” offers up to 6,000 points per night through Dec. 31 with a maximum 120,000 points after 20 nights. Club Carlson offers an incentive for stays to earn nights and bonus points and elite status for 2013.
Five paid hotel nights scored over 200,000 points from summer 2012 stays with my wife at Radisson, Country Inn and Park Inn hotels during California road trips to visit Disneyland and National Parks. Those points are sufficient for four nights anywhere in the world at top-tier Radisson Blu hotels.
Marriott Rewards consistently offered free nights in 2012. Stay two times and earn a free night certificate at a Category 1 to 4 hotel, up to three free night certificates for stays Sep. 15, 2012 to Jan. 15, 2013. Free night certificates are valid for one year from issuance and valid at more than 2,500 hotels worldwide.
Buy a $100 Marriott GiftCard through Nov. 30 and earn 1,200 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points. Buy $1,000 in GiftCards, earn 12,000 Southwest points and pay for Marriott MegaBonus stays to earn three free night certificates.
This has been a transitional year for hotel loyalty programs in the face of improving hotel economics. Hotel promotions consistently provide good rebates. There seems to be incentive to remain a loyalty traveler for 2013.