Hotel Loyalty Program Advice

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plugster2011

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Hi AFFer's,

Seeking some advice on which program to switch to.

Up until now I have been 100% loyal to IHG which has culminated in reaching Royal Ambassador status for the next year (expires Jun 2015). Ive only had 2 stays as an RA and generally the treatment is good but not so amazing that I feel like pushing to retain it.

Reaching it this year was a combination of a heavier than usual travel schedule and giving every single night to IHG (84 of them). My travel schedule for next year is considerably lighter and furthermore at this stage not in places with IC hotels to take advantage of the RA status. And increasingly points stays are not getting RA benefits in many places - so using points is not very attractive except where the return is great (i.e >$500 a night for a 50,000 point redemption).

So i'm looking to transition to a program while I have this status via match or challenge. I have 9 nights in Hawaii this year where there is only a Holiday Inn in the IHG portfolio so this seems like a good opportunity to have a crack at a match (or the majority of a match).

Looking around the boards at the other programs its seems that Hilton is the most popular in terms of threads and posts. In which case i'd be looking to do a Diamond Challenge. but wondering if anyone feels like stumping for their program of choice?

my travel is mainly in LOTFAP, UK and Australia so I am looking for good coverage in these locations and I am looking for a program that honours benefits on award stays (if that actually exists).

Thanks in advance

Plugster2011.
 

Cynicor

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Future travel plans play a big part. Of the main programs in AU only SPG has lifetime status. This could be a decent goal in itself, but SPG gold is nigh on useless compared to HH gold (also much easier to obtain).

HH allows status via spend, which may be good for leisure stays with high spend, low nights as MRs in AU will be very pricey!

Hyatt apparently has some of the most decent top perks, but a paucity of hotels.

Accor plat is very easy to obtain for free, or has been, but recognition and points posting is patchy and complicated at best.

Hope that's a start for you. As a guide. I'm HH Diamond on points and it's decent, but gold gets you a lot of perks and is arguably the best level on a value for money basis.

I'm also SPG gold but only make retain every 2nd year on nights. Don't notice tonnes from it with no breakfast and internet is at the expense of bonus points.
 

dajop

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Future travel plans play a big part. Of the main programs in AU only SPG has lifetime status. This could be a decent goal in itself, but SPG gold is nigh on useless compared to HH gold (also much easier to obtain). .

I would suggest that HH Gold is comparable to SPG Platinum depending on whether it is stays or spend/nights. If on stays HH Gold is 20 vs SPG Plat at 25 and I'd suggest SPG Plat is much better. In my last year as HH Gold (which I gave up due to program changes) I found it more difficult to get upgrades and access Exec lounges than in the past. As for SPG Gold it is more akin to HH Silver, but needs more stays, the main benefits being 4pm late checkout and 3 pts per dollar.

However, in the UK SPG is next to useless, as you are limited to a handful of high end properties in London and Scotland (only lower cost hotels are at Heathrow and the aloft London Excel) versus many Hilton properties across brands across the UK. Although if it is just London and don't mind paying 250 GBP plus a night then it maybe OK for UK too.
 

Cynicor

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I would suggest that HH Gold is comparable to SPG Platinum depending on whether it is stays or spend/nights. If on stays HH Gold is 20 vs SPG Plat at 25 and I'd suggest SPG Plat is much better. In my last year as HH Gold (which I gave up due to program changes) I found it more difficult to get upgrades and access Exec lounges than in the past. As for SPG Gold it is more akin to HH Silver, but needs more stays, the main benefits being 4pm late checkout and 3 pts per dollar.

However, in the UK SPG is next to useless, as you are limited to a handful of high end properties in London and Scotland (only lower cost hotels are at Heathrow and the aloft London Excel) versus many Hilton properties across brands across the UK. Although if it is just London and don't mind paying 250 GBP plus a night then it maybe OK for UK too.

I agree, but 25 stays is not really an achievable feat without MRs for me and I try not to stay in hotels for no reason. HH diamond has decent benefits and they are honoured on award stays which is nice, but you have to work to get your nights/stays etc.

To the OP- it, as with everything, comes down to your personal travel preferences and how much you spend on each hotel night.
 
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dajop

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I agree, but 25 stays is not really an achievable feat without MRs and I try not to stay in hotels for no reason.

But, by this logic, without status match or VA platinum (to get HH diamond) then HH diamond - at 30 stays - could be more difficult than 25 stays for platinum spg. Having HH gold & SPG plat simultaneously for two years I'd say SPG plat is better. My partner has HH diamond & SPG plat, which are alike and the main difference seems to be better room upgrades with SPG plat and not having to fight to get late checkout (as one of the benefits is 4pm checkout, unless hotel is running very full - and despite this we've never had a problem with a 4pm checkout request). SPG award stays also count to status, like Hilton. It seems both though rank above Accor and ICH status in terms of consistency of benefits, but in certain parts of the world have much fewer hotels.

The downside of SPG status, at some brands in the chain, status means little (aloft, and at some W's). But then Waldorf Astoria's come with few benefits for HH diamonds too.
 

Cynicor

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Sorry Dajop, I omitted the crucial "for me" in that statement about stays!

I agree that HH Diamond is not easily obtainable. I get it on base points which I cannot do for any other scheme.

Very true about the top level being not that helpful in the best hotels. I do like how achievable stays at some decent hilton properties are though, like Conrad Maldives. The W Maldives seems like it could take a lifetime to accumulate points for.

And they both do the 5th night free on awards which is ok, not as good as it used to be.
 

dajop

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I agree that HH Diamond is not easily obtainable. I get it on base points which I cannot do for any other scheme.

Yeh it's odd that other programs don't have an option linking status directly to spend (base points) like Hilton does.

And agree, the top level properties in Hilton are still achieveable, based on $ spend translating to points in their respective programs 2 nights at the excellent Conrad Koh Samui, requires less than 1 night at the W Koh Samui.
 

plugster2011

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Wow. Really appreciate all the responses. Seems like a choice between Hilton and SPG. I'm confident I can achieve at least HH Gold. And with my regular LOTFAP travel I can probably get some cheaper nights for MR's if required.

Time to do some reading.
 
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dajop

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Wow. Really appreciate all the responses. Seems like a choice between Hilton and SPG. I'm confident I can achieve at least HH Gold. And with my regular LOTFAP travel I can probably get some cheaper nights for MR's if required.

One thing about the LOTFAP is that "mattress" runs can be as simple as swapping between hotels located next door to each other. Or even easier if you have a rental vehicle.
 

plugster2011

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Agree wholeheartedly. A fact that has come in handy with the Big Win promos with IHG which have multiple brands as part of the requirements.

In many respects "travel hacking" seems a lot more lucrative in LOTFAP be it the wide range of cheap accommodation options or CC sign up bonuses. Oh to have a Social Security number. But that's for another thread.
 

drron

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With your travel pattern in the next year Hilton is definitely your best choice.Much better coverage in the US outside the big cities and the UK is virtually an SPG desert.
If your stays are more in Asia I would definitely go SPG.The rewards with SPG plat are definitely better than HH diamond which is why I swapped.And no way is HH gold anywhere near SPG plat-I also have both.Plus being able to go for lifetime plat is a major plus.
If only able to make gold then HH wins by a mile.In fact apart from the extra points I have not noticed a major difference dropping from diamond.
 
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