Which Hotel Chains Will Extend Elite Status Due to COVID-19?

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After an initial period of “keep calm and carry on”, it is now unavoidably obvious that both business and leisure travel will be heavily impacted for much of 2020. For frequent travellers who place great importance on elite status, concern is mounting about whether it will be feasible to earn or retain a desired level of elite status in what eventually remains of 2020 once the crisis subsides. As a result, hotel chains have been emailing their members with updates. Some hotel chains have been proactive; others have taken a wait-and-see approach.

To be meticulously fair, it can’t be easy to be a travel executive at this time. Even though it might seem obvious to do whatever is necessary to keep your best customers happy:

  • Extending members’ status now –> your best customers might feel no need to stay for the rest of 2020, even when normal travel eventually resumes (and right now you need to make sure that your company survives the year… your elite members might end up being crucial to that objective)
  • Wait and see –> increases the anxiety of customers that you will really need to remain loyal
  • Reducing the hurdles for qualification –> good for clarity, mediocre for generosity, and likely to require additional updates as the situation unfolds

Although this information might soon become out of date, the major hotel chains are dealing with elite status as follows:

IHG Rewards Club

Ambassador members have received a 3-month extension to their membership.

IHG Rewards Club has also lowered the criteria for earning elite status. Members will now require:

This works out to roughly a 25% reduction in the requirements for elite status. In other words… 3 months of no travel at all. Should the crisis last into the summer, I would expect to see further reductions in these criteria…

You can find a bit more information by clicking here.

World of Hyatt

Hyatt is extending Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist status for those members resident in the Asia Pacific region (as of 18 February 2020 to avoid abuse).  You can find the full list of qualifying residencies by clicking here.

Hyatt is also taking a case-by-case approach to those members who aren’t resident in the APAC region, but who travel there frequently. My Globalist status was recently extended, due to the fact that I travel to Asia 2-3 times per year.

As I mentioned above, this makes one Globalist member very happy, but also means that I don’t need to stay any more nights with Hyatt this year…

Hilton Honors

We will make updates to the requirements for earning tier status for 2021. Since the situation is still evolving, it is too early to make and announce specific changes. We are committed to sharing details as soon as possible.

Essentially nothing more than wait and see…

Marriott Bonvoy

One of the main complaints about Marriott in general – #bonvoyed – is their frequently tone deaf communication strategy.

I want you to know the safety of our guests and associates is our top priority.

Of course there is nothing wrong with this statement – and maybe I’m sick of hearing it from all of the major hotel chains and airlines – but for some reason it feels particular insincere when coming from Marriott.

As far as elite status is concerned, Marriott is taking a wait and see approach as well, apart from the fairly simple extension of the expiry of any Suite Night Awards to 31 December, 2021…

Accor Live Limitless

At the moment, it appears that Accor’s status extension policy is limited to members resident in mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. (as of 15 February 2020)

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