The hotel guest has one primary objective – a sense of getting good hotel stay value for the money paid. The goal of the traveler is to find hotel value for any hotel whether booked through Priceline, Expedia, or a major hotel brand website.
Elite member recognition as a frequent guest can tip the scale for sticking to a specific hotel loyalty program member hotel over other lodging choices. The benefits of being an elite member in a hotel program combined with rebates on the cost of rooms in the form of hotel points, free nights and airline miles offers added value to the frequent guest.
Elite is High Value Strategy for Hotel Stays
An $80 upscale hotel room bargain gets blown out of budget with a $40+ hotel restaurant breakfast charge for two. Internet access can set you back $10 to $25+ per night at many high-end hotels.
Hotel loyalty program elite status is the best way to upgrade your hotel life for less cash. You do not have to be top tier elite with 25+ hotel stays a year in a loyalty program to receive valuable benefits like free internet, free breakfast and room upgrades.
Lower Elite Tier Benefits Survey
Hilton HHonors Gold (16 stays or 36 nights)elite offers rewarding benefits with free internet, breakfast globally except for Waldorf Astoria, and room upgrades, some with executive lounge access. Award stays count for elite credit.
Hilton HHonors Silver (4 stays or 10 nights) earns 15% bonus points which amounts to 16.5 points per dollar rather than 15 points/$1 for Points & Points earners. HHonors Silver elite has few benefits besides the 15% to 25% points discount for elites on award stays of four nights or more. Marriott and SPG offer all members 20% discount with 5thnight free awards.
Marriott Rewards Gold (50 nights) elite gets complimentary breakfast, except at resorts and Courtyard Hotels. That is a big gap in coverage with over 800 Courtyard hotels globally. It is hard to be Marriott Gold and an infrequent guest. Marriott Rewards Silver (10 nights)provides few useful hotel benefits except late checkout. The 20% bonus points is slightly more than HHonors Silver elite (15%).
IHG Priority Club Platinum (50 nights or 60,000 points). Priority Club counts all points earned and reaching 60,000 points is far less costly and easy to earn on far fewer than 50 nights. Platinum elites do not have a defined benefit for breakfast or even internet access, but room upgrades are a possibility and 50% elite bonus grows points more quickly. Gold elite is a 10% elite point bonus and little more benefit. Ambassador membership ($200 or 32,000 points)is useful for room upgrades, late checkout, 5,000 bonus points, annual Buy One Get One Free weekend night and other defined amenities only available at 170 InterContinental Hotels.
Club Carlson Silver elites (10 stays or 15 nights) are eligible for room upgrades, earn an extra 1,000 points online booking bonus, early check-in and late checkout and elite roll over nights. Gold elite (20 stays or 35 nights) adds a welcome gift. All Club Carlson members receive high speed internet, but only top tier Concierge elites (30 stays or 75 nights) have a free breakfast benefit.
Starwood Preferred Guest – Gold elite (10 stays or 25 nights) has a benefit of 4pm late checkout and a higher room category upgrade; mostly preferred view room, and with luck, sometimes a suite. Upgrades do not apply to Aloft or Element and late checkout is limited at resorts and conference hotels.
SPG launched new elite benefits March 1, 2012:
SPG Gold members
· Hotel Stay Welcome Gift – Choose from Starpoints (up to 250 points/stay) or free internet or free beverage.
SPG Platinum elite (25 stays or 50 nights) receive free internet and consistent room upgrades including suites and lounge access. Hotel Stay Welcome Gift – Choose from Continental Breakfast for entire stay or Starpoints (up to 500/stay) orlocal gift.
Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum elites (5 stays or 15 nights) are eligible for room category upgrades, free internet globally, 2pm checkout and every third stay earns a Platinum Extra Award for a choice of bonus points and F&B choices. Stay 15 to 24 times and the Award includes Regency Club upgrade or free breakfast. Diamond elites (25 stays or 50 nights) receive free breakfast and four confirmed suite upgrades.
Best Value Lower Tier Elite Benefits:
1. Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum (5 stays or 15 nights) free internet, upgrades, 2pm late checkout and 15% bonus points.
2. Hilton HHonors Gold (16 stays or 36 nights) free breakfast, internet, upgrades, lounge access and 25% bonus points. Award stays count for elite credit.
3. SPG Gold (10 stays or 25 nights) free upgrades, 4 pm late checkout, 50% elite bonus points and choice of free internet. Award stays count for elite credit.
4. Club Carlson Silver (10 stays or 15 nights) room upgrades, online booking bonus, elite roll over nights, early check-in/late checkout and 25% bonus points.
Consider the benefits of elite status that offer you the most value and choose your hotel loyalty programs accordingly in 2012.
This Loyalty Traveler article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of InsideFlyer and this version has some SPG benefit updates announced a couple of weeks after this article was originally published.