The ultimate question for every loyalty traveler is:
What is the best hotel frequent guest program for me?
I could work out an individual profile for your travel lifestyle to suggest the best hotel program, but you will have to pay me for that kind of personal attention. For all you internet freeloaders I have this blog which should help you make an educated decision based on information.
Last week I addressed the issue of hotel brands in hotel market segments using the JD Power survey on guest satisfaction. The more important aspect of brands for the loyalty traveler choosing a hotel program is knowledge of the proportion of hotel brands in the different market segments and the proportion of USA and international hotels participating in a frequent guest program.
Choosing the “best fit” hotel loyalty program should be based on matching the hotel brands and locations with your desired travel pattern. The best hotel program can vary depending on the market segment you tend to travel within (free breakfast at a midscale hotel or full restaurant room service dinner at upscale hotels?), your hotel stay pattern (single nights vs. multi-night stays), your hotel room redemption opportunities (do you want lots of nights at midscale hotels or a few nights at luxury hotels?), and whether the locations you travel are strictly USA, global travel, or particular cities and regions.
I look at this stuff all the time and I have difficulty remembering the ratios of USA vs. international hotels and the ratio of upscale brands vs. mid-scale brands. I decided to recheck information for this post on choosing the best hotel program for your travel lifestyle.
Loyalty Traveler’s Look at Hotel Market Segment and Geography by Hotel Loyalty Program
Marriott Hotels Corporation
USA = 2,518 hotels (434 upscale hotels; 1,753 midscale; 860 extended stay)
International = 369 hotels (269 upscale hotels; 81 midscale; 19 extended stay)
· JW Marriott = 39 hotels (16 USA, 23 international)
· Marriott = 521 hotels (343 USA, 178 international)
· Renaissance Hotels = 143 (75 USA, 68 international)
· Courtyard = 770 (697 USA, 73 international)
· Residence Inn = 547 (529 USA, 18 international)
· Fairfield Inn = 535 (527 USA, 8 international)
· TownePlace Suites = 145 (145 USA)
· SpringHill Suites = 187 (186 USA, 1 international)
Marriott Rewards has the competitive advantage of the number of hotels in several different market segments.
Marriott has the competitive strength in the extended stay market with nearly 900 hotels in three brands: Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and SpringHill Suites. Extended stay hotels are where hotel guests have the ability to live apartment-style with a refrigerator and stove in the room. Starwood is just entering the extended stay market with their Element Hotel brand. Hyatt has Summerfield Suites as a new brand in Gold Passport for 2008, but with only 31 hotels this is not yet a real player in the extended stay market. Hilton’s extended stay brand, Homewood Suites, is still relatively small at 200 hotels. IHG has Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites, but these still number only 300 hotels total.
At the high end (think over $200/night much of the time, but some locations and dates will have rates in the $100 to $150 range some of the time), Marriott has luxury and resort locations in 3 hotel brands, JW Marriott, Marriott, and Renaissance, each with a strong international presence.
For the midscale hotel traveler the average hotel rates tend to be in the $70 to $100/night for much of the country. Some locations will have midscale rates as low as $50 at times and other popular locations will go over $200 at times. Marriott has a range of midscale hotels in two brands of over 500 hotels each in the USA. The upper midscale brand (Courtyard) is often combined with an adjacent Residence Inn property allowing some facilities and services to be shared. The two properties combined have an economy of scale to meet two market segments of short-stay and extended stay hotel guests. Marriott also has the lower midscale brand of Fairfield Inn hotels offering the basic room and often with limited hotel facilities.
For USA travelers there are over 2,000 Marriott Rewards participating hotels located in the USA with five hotel brands (Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suites) in the midscale segment.
The full-service brand hotels in the upscale market segment approach 450 hotels in the USA and another 300 international hotels in the Marriott and Renaissance brands.
2,500 hotels in the USA across several market segments from upscale to extended stay to a range of midscale hotel brand options makes Marriott Rewards a strong program for a traveler who needs hotels in places where other chains might not be present. Marriott is the only major hotel chain to have hotels in the city of Salinas, California – population 150,000 and the largest city in Monterey County.
How the other hotel programs compare by number of hotels:
Hilton Hotels Corporation Brands – over 2,800 hotels (HHonors repeatedly uses over 3,000 hotels in their press releases, however, the brand fact sheets only add up to a little more than 2,800 hotels currently open.)
USA = 2,506 hotels; upscale 600 hotels; midscale 1,700 hotels; extended stay 220 hotels
International = about 350 hotels (almost all upscale)
· Homewood Suites – 220 hotels (almost all in USA)
· Hilton Garden Inn – 312 hotels (293 USA, 19 international)
· Embassy Suites – 185 hotels (almost all in USA)
· Doubletree Hotels – 180 hotels (almost all in USA)
· Hampton Inn – 1,400+ hotels (almost all in USA)
· Hilton Hotels – 511 hotels (231 USA, 280 international)
· Conrad Hotels – 18 hotels (3 USA, 15 international)
· Waldorf=Astoria Hotels – 5 hotels (4 USA, 1 Saudi Arabia)
Hilton HHonors is well-matched with Marriott Rewards for hotel brand segments. Hilton has the edge over Marriott with more upscale properties in the USA and international, and is comparable to Marriott domestically in the number of midscale hotels, while Marriott has more hotels in the extended stay market.
InterContinental Hotels Group
IHG Fact Sheet: http://www.ihgplc.com/files/pdf/factsheets/group_at_a_glance.pdf
· InterContinental Hotels – 153 hotels (20 USA, 133 international)
· Crowne Plaza – 308 hotels (140 USA, 168 international)
· Hotel Indigo – 14 hotels (12 USA, 2 international)
· Holiday Inn – 1,369 hotels (809 USA, 560 international)
· Holiday Inn Express – 1,819 hotels (1,532 USA, 287 international)
· Staybridge Suites – 130 hotels (121 USA, 9 international)
· Candlewood Suites – 169 hotels (168 USA, 1 international)
3,962 hotels globally
Upscale – 1035 hotels (Many international Holiday Inn hotels fall in upscale market and are included here. Most USA Holiday Inns included in midscale market segment.)
Midscale – 2,600 hotels – Holiday Inn Express and most Holiday Inns in USA
Extended Stay – 299 hotels in Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites
USA = 2,500 hotels (upscale 200 hotels; midscale 2,100 hotels, extended stay 290 hotels)
International = 1,160 hotels (upscale 860 hotels; midscale 300 hotels; extended stay 10 hotels)
Competitive advantage: IHG has the largest number of upscale hotels internationally with more upscale hotels outside the USA than Marriott and Hilton combined. The Priority Club loyalty program offers plenty of opportunities to earn points at lower rates than a program like Starwood, but with many more hotels for redemption opportunities. The upscale side of Priority Club is best experienced with travel outside the USA.
Hyatt Hotels Corporation
399 hotels globally (Upscale 241 hotels; midscale 127 hotels; extended stay 31 hotels)
USA 284 hotels; (upscale 126 hotels; midscale 127 hotels; extended stay 31 hotels),
International 115 hotels; (all upscale)
· Grand Hyatt – 36 hotels (USA 11, international 25)
· Hyatt Regency – 164 hotels (USA 99, international 65)
· Park Hyatt – 27 hotels (USA 3, international 24)
· Andaz – 1 hotel (international 1)
· Hyatt Summerfield Suites – 31 hotels (USA 31)
· Hyatt Place – 127 hotels (USA 127)
· Hyatt Vacation Club – 13 hotels (USA 13)
Hyatt is the small hotel program in this set. Frequent guest promotions are high-value in this program and loyalty is well rewarded if your travel pattern includes destinations with Hyatt Hotels.
Starwood Hotels Corporation
June 30, 2008 data: source
899 hotels (Upscale 768 hotels; midscale 130 hotels; extended stay 1 hotel)
North America 453 hotels (361 hotels upscale; 91 hotels midscale; 1 hotel extended stay)
International 446 hotels (408 hotels upscale; 38 hotels midscale)
· Sheraton Hotels – 404 hotels; 141,000 rooms (205 hotels North America)
· Westin Hotels – 158 hotels; 63,000 rooms (104 hotels North America)
· Four Points – 130 hotels; 23,000 rooms (92 hotels in North America)
· W Hotels – 22 hotels; 6,600 rooms (18 in North America)
· Luxury Collection – 57 hotels; 9,700 rooms (12 in North America)
· St. Regis – 13 hotels; 2,900 rooms; (8 in North America)
· Le Meridien – 111 hotels; 29,000 rooms (10 North America)
· Aloft – 3 hotels; 400 rooms
· Element – 1 hotel (Lexington KY)
Starwood is heavily weighted to the upscale market segment. Only Hilton Hotels has more upscale properties in the USA and only InterContinental Hotels Group has more upscale properties internationally. This is another program with great loyalty program promotions if the more limited locations fit your travel lifestyle.