Jan212016

Best Western Rewards adds new top elite tier and elite upgrades benefit expanded

Best Western Rewards has new 2016 changes to its loyalty program. One of the main changes is a new top tier elite level and some new defined benefits. This post summarizes the 2016 Best Western Rewards program.

Best Western Elite Levels

Best Western Rewards 2016 elite member benefits

Changes in Best Western Rewards for 2016

You can compare the table above to the Best Western benefits table in April 2014 using this waybackmachine web archive page.

  1. Elite qualification by stays – the old system only counted nights or base points for elite qualification. The nights qualification remains at the same levels of 10 nights, 15 nights and 30 nights for Gold, Platinum and Diamond elite. The addition of stays makes it possible to qualify for elite membership with fewer nights for members with a pattern of one night stays.
  2. Diamond Select Elite – this is a new elite tier achieved with 50 nights or 40 stays or 50,000 base points ($5,000 in base spend). Benefits include 50% elite bonus points. Best Western members earn 10 base points per $1 and this new tier member will increase the elite bonus for very frequent guests from 30% to 50%.
  3. Room Upgrades – this benefit used to be applicable only for USA and Canada hotels. The new benefits table does not state that geographic restriction. The change is an enhancement since around 2,000 Best Western hotels are outside the USA. The large number of Best Western hotels outside the USA is one of the main competitive edges for Best Western Rewards.

Here are a few other items I noticed in the new Best Western Rewards program terms and conditions (Jan 1, 2016).

Elite Membership Year – Best Western Rewards member who meet the requirements for an elite level will maintain the level for the remainder of the calendar year and the following calendar year.

For example, if you achieve Gold Elite Status in August 2016, you will retain Gold Elite Status through December 31, 2017. If you achieve Gold Elite Status in August 2016 and then Platinum 10 Status in October 2016, you will retain Platinum Elite Status through December 31, 2017.

Earn Points on Up to 3 Rooms per Stay – this is actually a negative change, down from 10 rooms. Member must occupy one of the rooms. Elite benefits only apply to member’s room. This change has no impact on most members, but is a big hit for meeting organizers.

Seasonal Reward Rates – “REDEEMING POINTS FOR FREE NIGHT STAYS – The number of Points required for one (1) free night stay at a Licensed Hotel is based on the expected average daily rate on the date requested for the stay, varies throughout the year, and is subject to change at BWI’s discretion.“

Currently the price of a reward night using points varies by calendar month and rates can change significantly throughout the year. I first noticed this seasonal variation last March when I checked Best Western Ruby’s Inn at Bryce Canyon Utah for free night points rates:

Best Western Ruby’s Inn, Bryce Canyon, Utah

  • April 2015 = 8,000 points
  • May 2015 = 20,000 points
  • October 2016 = 16,000 points
  • November 2016 = 12,000 points

I am not sure if the current practice is the one that will remain in place or if there will be more adjustments to correlate points more closely to average daily rate for free nights.

Loyalty Traveler – Did you know Best Western Rewards uses seasonal reward rates? (March 30, 2015).

Free points transfers for elites – Members who have attained Elite Status may transfer Points to other Members, which shall be without charge.

Elite Member Recognition Gift – Members who achieve Elite Status at the Platinum, Diamond, and Diamond Select levels receive a welcome gift upon check-in.

This is another benefit that only applied to USA and Canada hotels under the former benefits for a snack/beverage or 250 bonus points. Elite member recognition gift now appears to be a worldwide benefit.

Elite Member Room Upgrades – Members who have attained Elite Status at the Platinum, Diamond, and Diamond Select levels may receive an upgraded room at the time of check-in. A room upgrade is not available at BW Premier Collection® Licensed Hotels.

Room upgrades are another benefit that only applied to USA and Canada hotels in former benefits and looks to be global for 2016. I was concerned about the BW Premier Collection exclusion since I am booked in a BW Premier hotel next week, but then I learned BW Premier Collection is a new soft brand with only 13 hotels worldwide at this date.

Now open:

  1. BW Premier Collection Resort at The Mountains, Welches, Oregon, United States
  2. BW Premier Collection Hazelwood Castel & Spa, Leeds, England
  3. BW Premier Collection The Richmond, Liverpool, England
  4. BW Premier Collection Winchester Royal Hotel, Winchester, England
  5. BW Premier Collection Bank House Hotel Spa & Golf, Worcester, England
  6. BW Premier Collection Hotel Milton Rimini, Rimini, Italy
  7. BW Premier Collection HavsVidden, Geta, Sweden
  8. BW Premier Collection V Hotell Viking, Helsingborg, Sweden
  9. BW Premier Collection Master Johan Hotel, Malmo, Sweden
  10. BW Premier Collection The Winery Hotel, Solna, Sweden
  11. BW Premier Collection Pop House Hotel, Stockholm, Sweden
  12. BW Premier Collection Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa, Guanica, Puerto Rico
  13. BW Premier Collection Clayton Hotel, Cardiff, Wales

Best Western Rewards Free Night Chart

Best Western Rewards Free Night chart

Points Expiration

“POINT EXPIRATION AND MEMBERSHIP CANCELLATION Points earned under the Program do not expire. This is an exciting change for Members of some Legacy Programs. For those Legacy Programs where Points were due to expire on or before December 31, 2015, those Points will still expire consistent with the schedule of the Legacy Program in which they were earned. Commencing on January 1, 2016 (the Program Date), 11 however, all unexpired and unredeemed Points earned in Legacy Programs shall no longer be subject to expiration, regardless of country of residence.”

This new term is a benefit to many Best Western Rewards members living outside of North America. The policy is not new for North America members, but is a positive change for some international Best Western Rewards members.

Conclusion

These are primarily good changes to Best Western Rewards, with the exception of points earning credit reduced from 10 rooms to 3 rooms per stay. The rooms credit change is only a big devaluation for group stay planners.

As long as the free nights using points do not become directly linked to the actual room rate, these are mostly enhancements to Best Western Rewards.

I will have more to say about Best Western after a couple of hotel stays next week in Amsterdam.

Loyalty TravelerBest Western Rewards articles

Loyalty TravelerBest Western Low Rate Guarantee $100 travel card (Jan 15, 2016). I booked a $95 after tax BRG rate for Las Vegas next month and I will receive a $100 hotel card after the stay.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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