Best Hotel Rewards

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by travelingkid1981, Feb 8, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. travelingkid1981

    travelingkid1981 Active Member

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    So, first post to this forum. I just started a job where I am traveling a lot. Well, for me that is. I'm going to be averaging about 10-12 nights a month. So, I'm looking for advice from the seasoned vets! Best reward program, and 2nd best. Based on points, ability to use those points, places to use them, and best value. Love to have everyone opinions! Thanks and glad I found this board.
     
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  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Hilton, Marriott & IHG have more properties in more locations. Some people think the redemption options are not nice/fancy enough but it really just depends on where you want to go. Don't get too hung up only on how much the points are worth; it is also important to evaluate how easy they are to earn.
     
  3. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    I guess that greatly depends upon your travel allowance. I know folks that simply stay at Ritz-Carlton hotels most everywhere they travel, and are perfectly happy. For the more budget conscious traveler (i.e., on a per diem allowance), why not try hotels from all of the major players (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, etc.) as mentioned by Wandering Aramean. If you find a particular chain that you like best, then stick with them. There are definitely fans (and detractors) for them all on Milepoint!

    And I assume that your planned travel is in the US? I've had great experiences with IHG and Carlson properties outside the US, and could also recommend some non-US based hotel chains for travel, depending upon where in the world you're headed.
     
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  4. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    As well as benefits during travel. If you're spending 100+ nights in hotels, how you're going to be treated during those 100+ nights becomes pretty important. Are you going to be picking inconvenient properties that don't meet needs just for that week in Tahiti? That's exactly what chains want you to do...
     
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  5. travelingkid1981

    travelingkid1981 Active Member

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    I'll be in the US. Mostly the Midwest and SE. I've always stayed at Marriotts but am not loyal at this point. Which program is best for quickest and best rewards?
     
  6. flyforawg

    flyforawg Silver Member

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    The majors are all similar. Would suggest sticking with Marriott until you get platinum. Supplement it with the Marriott rewards card. After you hit platinum, move over to IHG or Hilton depending on which is closest to where your travels take you. With 100 nights+ and credit cards, you should be able to get top status at two programs.

    I find Marriott points to be more valuable, but you can get HH points pretty quickly, so it's a six of one half dozen of the other situation.
     
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  7. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Before you can use points, you must first earn them in sufficient quantities to be able to redeem for free stays, and then ideally the program would have hotels in cities that you enjoy visiting on your leisure travel to enable you to redeem the points (i.e., you want a program with a relatively large "footprint"). Translation: Choose from programs that (a) would allow you to earn the most points (for free nights) per spend and (b) have a relatively large "footprint" (such programs also tend to have comparatively more affordable standard room rates). As it turns out, I already did the math so that you would not have to. Below is a glossy chart that captures the concept I just enunciated; the smaller a bar the better because it means one spends comparatively less to earn a free night. Also, note that in order to be really competitive in this game, you would need to get a credit card (a co-branded CC) associated with the program that you select because it would allow you to maximize the number of points your earn per spend:

    SPFN-ALL.png
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2015
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  8. flyforawg

    flyforawg Silver Member

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    Adding on because I didn't mention SPG above. I have the card and it's my go to for non specific spend, but they just never have hotels where I need them for business. But the redemption value, especially in Europe, is amazing.
     
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  9. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I should have mentioned that it is also better to select a program with a large footprint for the purpose of both earning points and status. Traveling extensively for business where the program that you select has little or no presence dramatically lowers your ability to have your business travel subsidize your personal or your leisure travel. That is, in fact, the main limitation of Hyatt GP, despite having a fairly competitive spend-per-free-night. SPG is double jeopardy: small footprint + the worst spend-per-free-night of them all, even including their co-branded AMEX CC.
     
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  10. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    What data/averages are you using here? Because each hotel brand offers redemptions at different point levels, so it is hard for me to understand how there could be only one price point at which award nights become available.
     
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  11. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    The benchmark in the chart is the number of points required to afford one night at each program's highest redemption rate for a standard room. However, things do scale pretty much proportionately up and down the redemption rate charts...
     
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  12. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Hilton's highest redemption rate is 95k, right? That's a 19x multiplier over the 5k lowest rate. The spread at Hyatt is 5k->30k, a much narrower range. SPG ranges from 2k->35k. And the number of properties at each tier are not necessarily proportional across all the brands. I would be careful about drawing such general conclusions.
     
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  13. travelingkid1981

    travelingkid1981 Active Member

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    Wow! Thanks for all the information. Guess I'll just have to pick.
     
  14. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    My conclusions are just fine. Trust me. The math is simple and I'd previously provided the methodology for making that chart. It uses the earning for top elites in each program and calculates the number of points required to afford one night at each program's highest redemption rate for a standard room. Again, things do scale pretty much proportionately up and down the redemption rate charts and with elite status. What you are really asking for is something like what Scott Mackenzie did (no assumptions, no elite level, individual points for different rates), but go ahead and compare Mackenzie's second figure that shows Spend Per Free Night with mine above for only the top elites and you'll see that they are pretty much the same, even though his calculations were done before Hyatt devalued their points. BTW, his calculations and mine were done independently.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
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  15. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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  16. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I have no doubt that the math is accurate for this metric.

    I am less convinced of this. If both HH and HGP bottom out at 5k but HH tops out at 95k/night and HGP at 30k then they do not scale proportionally. One has 3x the range of the other.
     
  17. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2015
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  18. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Do the math and you'll be convinced or check out Gary Leff's and Scott Mackenzie's independent analyses. They reached the same conclusions. I was mainly interested in comparing how the top elites in each program would fare against each other, but I had also spot-checked the influence of award rates and elite status and things scaled up and down fairly nicely. Also, the fact that Gary and Scott did their math with minimal assumptions while I did mine assuming top elite status and also included points from co-branded CC and got the same overall picture is all the proof that one needs to infer the scalability of the results...
     
  19. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Here are the individual "rates" as dots on Mackenzie's chart (before Hyatt's devaluation). The picture is the same as mine above. Note that the programs can be compared directly because everything is scaled in terms of spend per free night, which is how it should be done. Using raw rates is totally meaningless without taking into account the earning ability under each program, which is what I thought you had said in your initial post and I had agreed with. It is why HHonors remains competitive with or is slightly more rewarding than (after including earnings from CC; see chart and here) Hyatt GP or Marriott Rewards or much more rewarding than SPG** in terms of spend per free night even after their purported cataclysmic "devaluation".

    **
    Edited to insert the italicized bit for greater accuracy.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
  20. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    There is no best.

    They all have advantages and disadvantages, so you need to define what is important to you.

    First of all - you need properties where you are traveling for work, that are suitable for your work requirements. With the biggest chains this is almost always the case. With other programs it may be more of a challenge. If you're in the middle of e.g. Kansas, Kimpton could be the most awesome program ever, but it would not matter. Someone else could have an awesome value program, but you might hate the properties that you would need to stay at. First and foremost, protect your sanity and choose somewhere you like to stay.

    Are you going to be hopping between a lot of places, or staying in one place frequently or for a long time?

    Hampton Inns faux-cutesy drives me batty after a while. Marriott properties are often depressingly (for others comfortingly) bland and uniform. I'd scream if I was doing 10 nights a month in either.

    On the other end - you need a use for your points. Do you want luxury resort stays? "Free" nights regardless of property type ("just want a bed")? A mix of both? Urban? Rural? Convert into airline miles and use for air travel instead of hotels? Will you want to save up and splurge with a lot of points at once, or just have a free hotel here and there?

    And what benefits do you really value? Free nights? Free upgrades to better rooms?

    Personally, I like to earn in lower-mid tier properties, and redeem in mid and upper. I like the properties available for redemption and for paid stays with SPG and Hyatt, and the benefits when in full service hotels. I enjoy the properties, and get enough variety between the two programs to not drive me mad. I spend a lot of nights in minor markets, and if I could only choose one program, neither would be suitable. Hilton is my third choice for broad coverage and good high-end redemption options which, while not nearly as lucrative as in the past, are still a good value.

    Cheaper hotels I tend to pay for, and most of the times points go toward more expensive options.
     
  21. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Here's another pretty chart to consider. Turns out that SPG points might actually be worth more - significantly more - at Cat 1/2 properties than at Cat 6/7s. :eek:

    [​IMG]

    Click the picture for a full breakdown on how I got to those numbers. They're based on real world searches, not just theoretical values. Some interesting data, I think.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2015
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  22. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    I see that my seat-of-the-pants impression that the most recent C&P devaluation at SPG brought C&P from "clearly a good deal" to "typically no better or worse value than straight points" was pretty accurate. I'm somewhat surprised that the top-end properties don't do worse in your analysis (although part of that may be that I usually value those at less than sticker).

    Is this just website availability? If so the premium at the top is being underrepresented due to the "suites only" properties that would charge greater than cat 7 points.
     
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  23. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    The analysis is website-only so if there's more than that the numbers won't reflect that.
     
  24. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    That kind of agrees with my experiences, that points go pretty far in places like SE Asia, where you get Western-ish brand standards but don't have to spend a lot of points because the categories are lower... Interesting.
     
  25. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Is the cash price an average of all cash rates, or only when award space shows?
     

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