Why Every Hotel Loyalty Program Should Offer Rollover Nights…

“Rollover nights” is an element of hotel chain loyalty programs that doesn’t normally get much attention. The idea is basically to entice members to continue staying beyond the bare minimum needed to earn (or renew) a given level of status. Currently, only Hilton Honors and IHG Rewards offer “rollover nights” as a feature of their loyalty program, but other programs have used “rollover nights” as part of their COVID-related plans to retain their best customers.

This autumn, however, I am finding that “rollover nights” is a very powerful way to incentivize members to choose one hotel chain over another.

What are “Rollover Nights”?

Here is Hilton’s standard explanation of rollover nights.

Elite rollover nights provide a faster way to earn elite status. Starting at Silver, at the end of the calendar year, any qualifying nights in excess of those required to qualify for your elite status level will be counted toward your elite status qualification for the following calendar year (January 1st to December 31st).

Example: If you reach Silver status after completing 10 nights, but end the calendar year with 30 nights, 20 nights will roll over into the following year.

Where things get confusing is when members are rolling nights forward year after year. Although you can only rollover nights for one year, the fact that you have rolled over nights does help you bank more “rollover nights” going forward.  Here’s a generic example:

  • Year 1 – 90 actual nights – since 60 is required for Diamond, 30 would rollover to Year 2
  • Year 2 – You start with 30 rollover nights and stay 50 actual nights –> 20 nights would rollover to Year 3 (i.e. the excess of 30+50 minus the 60 needed for Diamond)
  • Year 3 – You start with 20 rollover nights and stay 45 actual nights –> 5 nights would rollover to Year 4 (i.e. the excess of 20+45 minus the 60 needed for Diamond)

Why Rollover Nights is such a powerful incentive

In 2021, ALL nights that Hilton members accumulate will rollover to 2022. This means that all nights spent at a Hilton in 2021 will count for 2022 status renewal.

Because the competition is not (yet) offering rollover nights, this is giving me more than enough reason to choose to stay at a Hilton. Here’s why…

My main hotel chain programs are:

  1. Hyatt Globalist – requires 30 nights in 2021
  2. Marriott Platinum – requires 50 nights in 2021, although 25 were complimentary
  3. Hilton Diamond – requires 30 nights (or 15 stays) in 2021

At the moment, neither Hyatt nor Marriott are offering compelling promotions and I have already reached the renewal criteria. Try as I might to convince myself that an average Hyatt or Marriott stay should be “better” than a Hilton stay, I cannot shake the feeling that any additional nights this year with those chains would be “wasted”.

But every night I stay at a Hilton will help me qualify for Diamond in 2021 and renew it in 2022. So Hilton is receiving all of my hotel business at the moment. Perhaps in 2022 I will stay very few nights at Hilton, or perhaps I will be interested in rolling over more nights to 2023…

It also works for those who aren’t “Travel Hackers”

Even if travel hackers juggling multiple elite statuses are rare, the concept of rollover nights also helps to attract those who just want a single hotel chain to focus on. Since an elite night is never “wasted” with Hilton Honors, why bother with a backup?  If I worked in a job where one year I might spend 100 nights on the road but just 20 nights the next year, would I rather choose Hilton with:

  • Year 1 Diamond
  • Year 2 Diamond (40 rollover nights + 20 actual nights)

or Marriott…

  • Year 1 –> Titanium (75 nights)
  • Year 2 –> Silver (20 nights)

If I cared at all about elite status, I would choose the hotel chain that offered rollover nights…

Bottom line

I’ve never previously thought too much about rollover nights. But thanks to Hilton Honors, I am now realising what a powerful incentive it can be… and wishing that Hyatt and Marriott would do the same…

What do you think? Powerful incentive? Or too confusing to understand? Leave a comment below…

Comments

  1. Tracy S says

    Rollover nights was the thing which got me going on hotel loyalty programs. I *knew* I wouldn’t be able to hit meaningful status on a year-by-year basis consistently, and card-based pseudostatus wasn’t an option for me at the time. But knowing surplus nights would roll over and assist with the following year’s qualification sold me on it.

  2. Lewis Linden says

    I disagree with the statement that every hotel loyalty program should offer rollover nights. I think that this could be a great perk for some programs, but it definitely is not necessary for all of them.

  3. Niclas M. says

    Hi, the statement above about cumulating rollover nights year over year in Hilton Honors is a bit misleading. Hilton handles it in a very unusual way. An example:
    you have cumulated 16 rollover nights in year 1, which are rolled-over into year 2.
    in the year 2 you sleep 66 nights.
    to (re-)qualify to Diamond level in year 2 you need 60 nights.
    You might believe, that at the end of the year 2 your calculation would look like 16 rollover nights + 66 nights = 82 nights. Qualification: 60 nights. Rollover nights into year 3: 82 – 60 = 22 nights.
    Once you’ll reach year 3 and look at your Hilton Honors account, you’ll be more than just disappointed, because you will find only 6 rollover nights there instead of 22.
    Hilton calculates it namely in the following way: you slept 66 nights. It is enough for the requalification without touching your received rollover nights. So they deduct the full qualification from your nights of the actual year: 66 – 60 = 6. The rollover nights from the year 1 will not be valid anymore in the year 3. So they are also deducted in full. What remains are just 6 nights as rollover nights into the year 3.
    Actually, the rollover nights at Hilton Honors make only sense, if you would sleep in year 2 in the above example only 44 nights. Then the calculation would be 16 rollover nights + 44 nights of the year 2 = 60 nights -> requalified.
    It’s just a kind of a buffer in case you sleep less than required for a (re-)qualification. If you sleep enough nights at Hilton in the qualification year, your rollover nights are treated as non-existent.
    From this perspective, the rollover nights promise of Hilton is just a half sham package.
    I had very intensive discussions with the Hilton Honors about this topic. They were absolutely unbending. Probably, only a legal case at a court would force them to change their mind.

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