What do you think the best hotel loyalty programme is?

Discussion in 'Hotel frequent traveller programmes' started by JoeD, May 30, 2017.

  1. JoeD

    JoeD Active Member

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    We've seen some great debate on InsideFlyer UK recently between FlyingPiggie and Dr Redeye about the pros and cons of elite status. I thought it'd be interesting to carry the conversation on and find out what people's favourite hotel loyalty programme is and why.

    To kick things off, I'm going to be deliberately controversial and say IHG Rewards Club!
     
  2. FlyingPiggie

    FlyingPiggie Active Member

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    So... much... respect... now... GONE!!! Hahaha...

    I do have to say that IHG's individual promotions must provide fascinating insights to marketers and psychologists into how we react in different ways to different prompts. Assuming that they are aware of the goldmine of data they are generating...

    Even though I'm a huge Hyatt fan, if I was designing a loyalty programme from scratch I would probably end up with something quite similar to Starwood Preferred Guest...
     
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  3. JoeD

    JoeD Active Member

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    Haha - I think there's genuinely a serious case to be made for IHG!

    There are basically 3 main functions of a loyalty programme for me - perks when staying, average Points earning rate vs cost, lots of opportunities to redeem Points for different sorts of stays at a reasonable price.

    On point 1, IHG are obviously weak in terms of guaranteed benefits - but I've broadly been treated very well. It's important to point out though that I don't value breakfast or lounge access hugely (nice to have the option, but usually unimportant).

    What I do like are nice upgrades, and most especially late check out. Free drinks etc are good too. Upgrades with IHG are inconsistent, but I've had some great ones over the years, including gorgeous suites at the Intercontinental in Dublin and Le Grand in Paris. Less extravagant, but more meaningful really, is that I ALWAYS get an upgrade to a seaview room with balcony at the Holiday Inn Algarve, even when I only pay about £20 per night. I've never been refused late check out at an IHG hotel (usually 4pm) and a couple of free drinks at the bar is pretty standard - and probably as much use to me as most club lounges as I tend to just have a quick drink and then head out.

    On the Points earning side, I just don't see how IHG can be beat in terms of consistent value. The recent promos haven't been as generous as they used to be, but I still end up with about 10,000 Points per night on average. Most of my IHG paid stays are pretty cheap too (definitely under £100), so that's a significant kickback. I'll always love IHG for giving me free night certificates (to use anywhere) for every 2 stays at any IHG hotel. I was basically earning free nights at IC HK, Paris, London, etc for £40, at the same time as having a nice holiday in Portugal.

    Finally, IHG have a vast number of hotels all over the world - at lots of different price points. In a major city, there's normally a full range of options from Holiday Inn Expresses all over town to an IC or 2, via Staybridge Suites etc. Basically, whatever I need for any particular trip is probably offered by IHG. There are less redemption sweetspots than there used to be, but it's still pretty easy to get good value from IHG Points.

    For me, SPG does the perks when staying very well (for Plat members), but the Points earn and burn is seriously weak. I love Starpoints, but mostly for the ability to transfer them to airlines (there aren't many truly great value hotel redemptions with Starwood), and thank god it's pretty easy to earn them via credit cards etc, because otherwise earning more than a handful would be very slow and expensive.

    Convinced? :)
     
  4. FlyingPiggie

    FlyingPiggie Active Member

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    Nope... LOL.

    I actually used to have a lot of time for IHG, but it seems to me that any hotel that offered reasonable value on points now costs 10-20K more per night. (or has de-flagged) And the fact that I don't get free breakfast, lounge, etc. means that real money starts getting spent with every IHG reward stay, whereas I can quite easily go for a week to a Hyatt or SPG to chill out, do some work, and not spend another pound if I so choose...

    But for the casual traveler obviously Hyatt, and to a lesser degree SPG, status is well out of reach and so a high-rebate points programme can make more sense.
     
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  5. JoeD

    JoeD Active Member

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    Haha - worth a try!

    Yeah, the value isn't as great as it used to be, but that's happened pretty much across the industry over the last few years. I suppose you could argue that on-property elite benefits have stayed relatively consistent compared to earn/burn rates, so that would favour SPG in particular.

    As ever, it really comes down to what you want from a programme. I'm not quite 'Dr Redeye' but I don't chase status (beyond credit cards and status matches) at all. Most of my stays are relatively short breaks in cities, where I want to be out and about as much as possible.

    There are definitely club lounges I've made good use of and free breakfasts I've enjoyed, but it wouldn't really have bothered me much either way not to have had the option.

    I'm more interested in overall value (price/quality/points earned) and location, most of the time anyway.

    That said, if I find myself in Asia for a week or 2 anytime soon, I might well complete the SPG Plat challenge!
     

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