Help My Hotel Strategy

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by zshanlon, Dec 12, 2011.  |  Print Topic

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What's the best hotel chain for moderate (30 nights) US business travels?

  1. Hilton

    33.3%
  2. Priority Club

    22.2%
  3. SPG

    33.3%
  4. Choice

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  5. Club Carlson

    11.1%
  6. Marriott

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. zshanlon

    zshanlon Silver Member

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    For the last couple of years I have been a Hilton guy. I had the Hilton Amex and tried to stay there exclusively to rack up the most points possible. Over the past few months i've personally started to value Hilton less since every time I want to book a room it now costs me 150k points a night (sarcasm).

    I have been far more focused on maximizing airline miles and to that end I have been using hotel stays to further my goal which has resulted in me loosing HH Diamond. My question is what should I be considering when trying to devise a hotel strategy for 2012?

    The Basics:
    1) I have no Hotel CCs but it doesn't matter all that much because my company makes me use the corporate AMEX anyways
    2) I have Gold status with SPG and Hilton
    2) I do have the AMEX Plat and Sapphire Preferred cards
    3) When thinking about award redemption I tend toward valuing availability in major US and international cities over a broad network in mid-small market towns
    4) I only do about 30 nights a year
    5) I don't care about top tier hotel status too much from a benefits perspective. If the strategy I have gets it, great. If not, I wont be as sad as loosing my Delta Platinum.

    What I am looking for:
    What is a strategy that for hotel stays that aligns with the basics of my travel habits above? Do I pick a single chain and go with that or should I mix it up? If just one, which one? Do I just find the best promotion each week and stay with that hotel? I'm not opposed to Hilton, if you think that's the best bet for my habits, let me know.
     
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  2. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    If you don't care about top tier benefits, may as well chase at least high-value promos. The other option I'd consider is consolidating with SPG if they have appropriate properties where you need them, and aiming for top tier status. It makes more of a difference with SPG vs with HH.
     
  3. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Did you forget or rule out Hyatt Gold Passport?

    I have Diamond with Hyatt 3rd year now, but I think going forward I will drop to Platinum, retain Hilton Gold and buy club upgrades when I really want them instead of chasing status via MRs.
     
  4. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    With only 30 nights/yr, I would make an effort to check-in/out daily to maximize stays to earn the highest status possible. That being said, I would also maximize my stays based on promos because unless you use all your stays at SPG or Hyatt only, you will not be top tier elite.

    Right now, maximizing Hilton for the 4 stays/10 nts for 1 free night is a great deal. They've already come out with the stay 5 nts at a resort for a free night promo which is unlikely to work for most business travelers and hopefully isn't the main Q1 promo.

    Marriott has come out with their Q1 promo for a bonus 2k airline miles/points for every stay starting with the 2nd stay. Depending on how you value your airline miles/points, this provides a fairly good reason to hotel hop.
     
  5. zshanlon

    zshanlon Silver Member

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    I didn't rule it out, jsut simply forgot. Thanks.
     
  6. zshanlon

    zshanlon Silver Member

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    That's a good point. I value airline miles a lot but I may value them too much. In your mind what's more valuable, 2k airline miles per stay with 2nd stay or 1 free night every 4 stays? Which promo is better Hilton or Marriott? I'm looking to re-evaluate my entire hotel strategy.
     
  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    2k miles = $40 (at 2 cents/mile). So four stays = $80 in miles or a free night. Most hotel nights I pay for cost more than $80. But of course those free nights may come with conditions. Eg use by a certain date, and if you have no use for them by that date, it's a waste.
     
  8. FlyingBear
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    FlyingBear Silver Member

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    I personally like Priority Club because they have a whole lot of hotels. I am yet to have trouble finding their hotels in areas where I travel, but that's also very much a personal choice.

    To this point:
    That's not quite correct. Priority Club card, for example, gives you 10% back of the points you redeemed, plus one free night a year, with a $49 annual fee. I'd say that makes collecting their points more lucrative. I am sure that several of the other chains have CC benefits that can make it more beneficial to have the programs.
     
  9. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    I like free night awards and aim to redeem them for very high-cost lodging to get maximum value.

    In particular if you focus on a single program, make sure that they have the footprint you need. If you focus on a couple of programs, make sure that they complement each other and provide a good experience at low/mid tier elite.

    It's well worth examining your paid/corporate travel pattern:
    1)where (and what is the coverage of different chains where you will be staying)
    2)stay pattern - do you naturally do a lot of 1-night stays or stay put in one place for a while? If you do stay the same place for a while, is hopping hotels on a nightly basis something that will work for you and not cause issues with your employer?
    3)budget - this goes along with the where, but make sure that the available options fit within your corporate policy.
    4)personal standards/preferences - if everywhere I went the only SPG option in my allowable price range was a 4 Points, I'd probably focus on another program

    And on the redemption/personal side
    1)Where and at what cost of properties do you want to redeem?
    2)How frequently do you redeem?
    3)What flexibility do you have to schedule personal travel around e.g. expiring free hotel nights?
     
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  10. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    There's no question for me that 1 free night every 4 stays is worth more than 8000 miles (4 stays at 2k/stay assuming 1st stay is already completed) which I would value at 2 cpm for $160.... however, Hilton's promo is ending on Dec 31st, 2011 whereas Marriott's is just getting started for Q1 running from Jan 1, - April 30, 2012.

    Thus, this isn't an either or decision.... if you can get 4 stays (or hopping nights) by year end w/ Hilton, I'd highly recommend it as it's probably the best bonus out there for the rest of the year. Only caveat is using the nights within 6 months of earning it but I try to take a vacation every 6 months and long weekend getaways even more frequently so this is not an issue for me.

    Then for the other promos that have been announced into 2012, you have HHonors with stay 5 consecutive nights at a resort for a free night and the Marriott promo mentioned earlier. Most business travelers will unlikely be able to take advantage of the HHonors promo so the Marriott is the no brainer. Earlier this year, Southwest points via Marriott made the most sense as the promo terms favored Southwest over other airlines with 4x miles. This time around, they are more balanced across the airlines so picking Delta or United make sense.
     
  11. karung99
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    karung99 Gold Member

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    I have been Hyatt Diamond for the last 3 years now... I will choose Hyatt on my stays.
     
  12. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I think Hyatt and SPG generally have good programs, at least for top tier elites, but Starwood and especially Hyatt do not have the footprint that some other hotel families like Hilton and Marriott have, so they might not work well for the OP locations in smaller cities.

    On business trips, you should not mess around with switching hotels every night just to get more stay credits.

    If OP can manage close to 25 stays per year, investigate credit card and other ways to get a few more stay credits for status. For example, the SPG AmEx card reduces the stays for Plat from 25 to 22 or 23.

    Personally, I like SPG at the Gold level because it gives a guaranteed 4pm checkout.
     
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  13. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Agreed. I know some people do this, but there are plenty of negatives when you're moving around without any legitimate business reason to do so. My business travel is almost exclusively 1-night stays anyway, so not an issue for me, but certainly one to keep in mind.

    Forget whether it is permissible by your travel policy and whether it interferes with your business at all - consistently switching hotels without an apparent reason is sure to attract attention.
    Always an excellent idea, and SPG Plat is a nice status to have, particularly if you stay at properties that are good about upgrades and have a nice club lounge.
    SPG Gold for 4PM checkout can be quite useful and is a very nice benefit. The lack of free breakfast, lounge access (although occasionally offered), or free internet other mid-tier statuses like HH Gold can offer is a bit of a downer, though.
     
  14. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    Let's keep in mind that the OP has moderate travel which is probably closer to 30 nights a year, not 30 stays (as posed in the survey). Assuming the travel is for 2-3 nts/wk at the same location, it's probably only 10-15 wks on the road and thus 10-15 stays.

    By not hopping hotels, top tier status is not achievable. If top tier status is important, hopping is an option to consider but that depends on whether the inconvenience of hopping is worth the status to the OP. (Of course, this won't work at Marriott who doesn't give status based on stays)

    Given that the best programs out there have small footprints, the OP might just be better off maximizing top promos and getting whatever status he/she can at whichever hotel comes up since low status with the larger chains isn't all that anyway. Since many promos are stay based, hopping would be the way to maximize those promos as well.

    Of course, it's all up to the OP but when you can earn 4 Hilton free nights for bouncing hotels vs. 1 for the same 6 week period of staying at the same hotel for 3 nts/week.... there's not a whole lot to consider.... I'll take the 3 extra nights and use them at the Rome Cavalieri.
     
  15. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    We all have some tendency to assume our own stay patterns. He did also mention having HH diamond (28 stays to qualify by stays) previously. Clarification is certainly in order, but I wouldn't necessarily lean toward 10-15 stays. More information on budget/location/stay patterns would help a ton.

    I can very nearly count my multinight business stays this year on one hand. I can count intentional hopping on one hand. I had dozens of natural single-night stays.

    Others with similar number of nights may never do a single-night stay. Travel patterns can vary a ton.
    If meaningful status is not in the cards, this is a pretty clear strategy I think.
     
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  16. zshanlon

    zshanlon Silver Member

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    You are right. My 30 stays are actually 30 stays not 30 nights. I will occasionally hop around and I try for one day trips when possible to minimize time away from the family.

    My travel patterns are highly unpredictable. Could range from major cities like NYC to mid tier like JAX or small town like Greensboro.

    Based on the feedback so far I'm considering taking the Hyatt Diamond challenge they currently have and then staying equally infrequently at Hyatts and SPG since I get Gold with them thought my Amex Plat. I'm still not sure if I should choose Hilton or Priority Club. They both have the footprint to be consistent but Hilton probably has more higher end properties that I would want to redeem for even thought Intercontinental probably has nicer (albeit fewer) top tier properties.

    Is that crazy?
     
  17. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    I do not know how you are counting higher end properties. I consider Astoria Collection to generally be superior to IC, although there are more IC properties.
     
  18. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    Going Hyatt and SPG as your smaller programs with Hilton or IHG as your large program makes sense if status is important and you don't mind leaving bonuses on the table from other chains.

    Hyatt Plat is easy to reach with just 5 stays and Hilton Gold with 16 stays is doable. This will give you decent status at all 3 chains fairly easily.
     
  19. 2soonold
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    2soonold Gold Member

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    One thing I consider is does the hotel chain actually have the properties that I would want to stay in.
     
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  20. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    That's crazy talk! Stay in a hotel you actually like?

    I admit I get more than my fill of crappy four points.
     
  21. 2soonold
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    2soonold Gold Member

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    Yep. Right now I am with Hilton because they have the properties I would like to stay in as a reward for my loyalty. On down the line, that may change. But right now, everywhere I go there is almost always at least a Hampton where I can earn points towards my reward stay.:)
     

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