To you who are both RA and either top tier in HH or SPG

Discussion in 'IHG | Rewards Club/Ambassador' started by no-backpacker, Apr 2, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. no-backpacker
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    no-backpacker Silver Member

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    As some of you know, I am a little bit fed up with PC/IC and am thinking of changing, at least some of my over 100 nights. I have been thinking of Hilton and SPG as a supplement or even my premium program. I have tried to read about both programs, but it is still not clear for me what is the greatest of them. However it looks like SPG will cover my stays where there are no PC/IC beter than Hilton. It also looks for me that SPG has better "luxury" hotels than Hilton, or am I wrong? (I mostly stay at IC's and CP's.) Ooooh, I have a love/hate relationship to this... :-D

    Maybe this is the wrong forum... I take the chance! :)

    PS. I am mostly interested in upgrades and the "elite-perks" as I travel mostly for business.

    Thanks in advance.

    Xxx.
     
  2. PatBateman
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    PatBateman Active Member

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    I am RA and also pretty upset that even though you have 50+ nights it doesnt give you nearly any benefits in normal HI, HIX or CP - at least they should start to include free breakfast for Plats.
    Beside this I would recommend to you to ask Hyatt to match your Royal Ambassdor, which will get you a challenge of 12 nights in 60 days. This can then be transferred to SPG Plat (as they did not match RA at all) ... however as I read there will be a also a challenge starting from 04/01.

    Personally I did not like SPG as most of the hotels you dont have a real benefit from being TopTier (similar to PC with HI etc.) as they dont have a lounge etc. . Hilton has older hotels, however it requires only few stays (16) to Gold, and you have already possible upgrades and guaranteed breakfast with it. Talking about Mid-Tier programs Hilton is the best around, talking about TopTier I'd probably preferr Hyatt.
     
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  3. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Hilton HHonors gives you very little at the Diamond level. Upgrades to suites aren't even a part of the program, if you happen to get one you're just lucky at the discretion of the property. You get lounge access, most of the lounges are pretty unimpressive, certainly not as nice as an IC lounge. You get breakfast if no lounge.

    Starwood Platinum can be a good program but since upgades are catch as catch can at checkin, it really depends on the property (# of suites, how generous they are). You get lounge access at Westin/Sheraton/Le Meridien but not all have lounges. If you're a Platinum who doesn't get a suite at a property without a lounge, there's really no meaningful status benefit at all for the stay except the 500 bonus points as a platinum amenity. There's no breakfast benefit outside of lounge access at those properties that have it.

    Hyatt is a really good program with 4 confirmed at booking suite upgrades per year and breakfast as a benefit. But while there are more Hyatts than Intercontinentals there aren't a lot.

    Starwood is good because it's got more properties than Hyatt. And the 4pm checkout is guaranteed at most non-resort properties. No matter the program hard to match Intercontinental's upgrades in my experience. And hard to match that 8am checkin benefit, too.

    IMHO I'd give Hilton and Marriott a miss. And then see who has properties where you need them. No program is as good as Intercontinental RA in my experience. Next best is Hyatt Diamond if there are better Hyatts where you need to be, followed by Starwood.

    Grass ain't always greener..
     
  4. no-backpacker
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    no-backpacker Silver Member

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    Thank you very much both of you!

    After reading a lot, I do understand that RA may be the best program after all... :) However I do need a program to cover the places where ICH is lacking of properties. I would have chosen Hyatt if they had had more properties in Europe, but unfortunately they have very few. I think I will go for SPG, on the other hand, sometimes it is great to have the option to try independent hotels too! :)

    Xxx.
     
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  5. Pete
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    Pete Silver Member

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    RA program is wonderful, but only for IC stays. I've had good luck as an HH Diamond. And IMO SPG has far more higher-end properties.

    The real detracting factor for me with RA is the horrible customer service. HH and SPG wins in that category by a large margin.

    Another irritation is the limited points-earning ability at ICs.
     
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  6. Canadi>n
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    Canadi>n Gold Member

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    Though I agree it would be nice to get breakfast as a PC Platinum benefit, it is highly unlikely we'll see it because there are so many Plats, being about the easiest top tier of any program to achieve. I'd rather see Plat raised to 100K or more (nights are appropriate, but who in their right mind would try qualifying with nights by earning airline miles rather than PC points?) or kept at 60K but be based only on hotel stay points earned and not just about every point earned/bought. With a higher, more logical threshold, Plat benefits could be improved without negatively impacting the economics of the program and cost to participating hotels (an important consideration). Benefits are inconsistent, and RA is a whole other animal!

    The most attractive feature of HHonors is the free breakfast for Golds and Diamonds, but unless you can fast track, earning even Gold is tougher than PC Plat. And while one does Double Dip in HH, the award chart has been raised so many times that it is one of the worst of any program. I left HH almost 10-years ago when the award chart was changed the first time and it's only gotten worse. Aside from Double Dipping, the other biggest thing about HH is earning elite tier stay credits on award nights.

    Hyatt Diamond is one of the best top tiers for stay benefits (including free internet, breakfast and Club access where available) but there are far fewer such properties. Earning points is less and promotions and bonus points are getting worse and worse. If suites are not important to you as upgrades (though one gets four credits for such upgrades) then this is a very good program for elite treatment, even on award stays.

    SPG Platinum has improved, but varies considerably by brand. Next to no Club lounges at Westins, so other than free internet, benefits of Platinum as as spotty as at HIs and CPs. Many Sheratons and Meridiens have Clubs, so offer the best range of stay benefits. Pts+$ stays great for the budget conscious.

    No one program is perfect and decision really must be made on your budget and destinations. I've sampled all the major ones but Marriott and juggle PC/RA, SPG and GP (Hyatt). Can't keep all three at the top tier, so having likely requalified for RA (already passed 60K in PC) must decide between SPG Plat and GP Diamond for the balance of my 2011 stays. Tough decision to make particularly because my travel patterns don't take me to the US heartland where I can make up stay credits from inexpensive Hyatt Places or Four Pts nights.
     
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  7. no-backpacker
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    no-backpacker Silver Member

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    This is one of the reasons I was pondering about changing program, the customer service. When you write them an e-mail you get a standard answer, like they haven't at all read what you wrote, like it has been written from a computer rather than a thinking, human being. However, as I often stay at IC's I do get a lot from being a RA, so I think I will still stay. (I just couldn't let go 12 nights at the two IC's in Hong Kong...:))

    Xxx.
     
  8. Pete
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    Pete Silver Member

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    I really do believethat a big issue with IC customer service is the language barrier often encountered. And e-mail is next to useless, even if you copy an entire string of e-mails and specifically point to non-responsive answers. I assume that they must use some sort of software that generateds canned answers.

    The bigger issue for me with PC/RA customer service is that the initial response is always defensive or "no", rather than "let's see what I can do for you". It's as if they are doing me a favor. Not what I want from an elite loyalty program.
     
  9. southender
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    southender Silver Member

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    I am taking a second look at Hilton as a secondary due to the newly announced cash and points- but need to see some examples of real time experiences to see if promise meets reality.
     
  10. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Indeed I did post what I wrote before those announced changes. And it does improve the value of points, at least pending seeing how available cash + points is and what the increment for premium rooms redemptions look like.

    But as far as elite status, there hasn't been an improvement there, and hte Hilton program upgrades for Diamonds does not include suites in the terms and conditions...
     

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