Are Hotel Loyalty Programs worthwhile?

After many years of loyalty to certain hotel chains, through membership of their loyalty programs, one member has taken a step back to look at the bigger picture. They wonder whether their loyalty was worth the extra time and cost, or whether promiscuity is actually a better strategy for choosing a hotel?

In the past, this member was blindly loyal to hotel chains like Hilton, Accor and Starwood. Now, they feel they are much better off choosing a hotel based on its price and merits, rather than the brand name attached to it.

What I’ve found is that this has opened me up to a much wider variety of hotels and instead of sticking to a cookie cutter corporate hotel it allows me to experience something a little more unique. Some have been great, some have been not so – however the same can also be said for a lot of the chain hotels I’ve stayed at. When I look at my total hotel spend over a year now it has substantially reduced… and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my new path that I have taken.

While elite status benefits like free breakfasts and access to gyms have their advantages, our member found that they were not making the most of these anyway. Additionally, there is often a large premium to be paid for staying at a popular chain hotel.

Another member states that while they have a preference for established chains, they do not see the value in joining one of their loyalty programs. They believe that it is too difficult to earn free nights, and believe the number of stays required to gain elite status in these programs does not justify the reward.

However, other members have expressed completely different views. For some travellers, status with hotel loyalty programs is a must-have. Depending on the program, there are numerous benefits on offer to members with elite status including free suite upgrades, free wifi, free breakfast, bonus points and a range of other benefits that make the hotel experience all the more enjoyable.

A number of members are particularly impressed with the excellent customer service they have received as an elite member of a hotel loyalty program.

I actually treasure my Hotel status more than my airline status! I reached Marriott Pt lifetime some time back and would not swap it for any airline status.

I still remain loyal to SPG… Their treatment of elites is great and makes the whole loyalty thing worthwhile.

Some members take a glass-half-full approach, having a preference for certain chains but ultimately making a decision based on a mixture of loyalty, price and convenience.

I gave up chasing hotel status a couple of years ago. I have a preference for Accor, as they often meet my amenity/price needs but if the hotel isn’t located conveniently, its out.

Everyone’s experience with hotel loyalty programs is different. While there are a large cross-section of views amongst our members, many have positive stories to share about the benefits gained from such programs.

Finally, if you hold Gold or Platinum status with Virgin Australia, don’t forget that you can leverage this to get a free status match to the equivalent level in either the Hilton HHonors or IHG Rewards Club programs.

Weigh-in on the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]