Just gimme’ a number…
There’s hyperbole everywhere in loyalty programs. Guaranteed upgrades somehow become subject to availability, free breakfast is only “free” if you overpay in the first place and rewards points change values without warning, at the blink of an eye.
Sometimes, the best way to figure out the hotel loyalty program for you, and what it will bring, is to ignore the words – and crunch the numbers. One celebrated expert did just that, and the results make hotel loyalty actually pretty simple to look at…
The first thing worth noting is that no two points programs offer identical value, and any attempt to value a certain type of points is subjective. For example, 100,000 Hilton Honors Points may not actually be worth as much as 60,000 World Of Hyatt Points.
Don’t be fooled by big numbers, and instead focus on the value per point. Value per point is best described by the dollar value you can expect to extract from redeeming points. In this example, 60,000 Hyatt Points is enough for two nights anywhere, at hotels even costing over $1000 per night, whereas 100,000 Hilton may not cover more than a single night.
Gary Leff examined hotel loyalty programs from a simple and accurate perspective, based on the mathematical rebate you earn from each hotel stay, like cash back. To accurately weed through the nonsense and come up with a good estimation, he took the number of points you earn per dollar spent at each hotel brand and multiplied that number by the value of each type of hotel point, on a “cents per point” basis, thus creating a ballpark figure for your loyalty.
Basically, it’s an easy equation like 10 points earned per dollar x .08 per point of value per point. Here’s the summation of the rebate Mr. Leff says you earn from your hotel loyalty, not taking any other loyalty factors, such as limited time points bonuses into account. We back it…
General members earn 10 points per dollar, and Hilton Honors points are worth .04 cents per point, for a 4% rebate on your stays.
Top elite members earn 20 points per dollar, for a rebate of 8%.
General members earn 5 points per dollar, and Hyatt points are worth 1.4 cents per point for a rebate of 7%.
Top elite members earn 6.5 points per dollar for a 9% rebate.
General members earn 10 points per dollar, and Marriott points are worth .7 cents per point for a rebate of 7%.
Top elite members 17.5 points per dollar for a rebate of 12%.
General members earn 10 points per dollar, and IHG points are worth .6 cents a piece, for a rebate of 6%.
Top elite members earn 20 points per dollars, for a 12% rebate.
Marriott and IHG are the most rewarding for top tier customers, while Hyatt and Marriott offer the best general member rebate. Simple enough, right? Naturally, having a credit card from any of the brands can help push the scale in favor of one versus another, but stripping things away it’s that simple.
There’s not much point comparing elite benefits at the bottom end, so this solely looks at the top end, where actually definable benefits tend to exist. It’s important to note that with many of these benefits, you may actually do better booking through a travel agent who can secure things like free breakfast or late check out, without any elite status required.
Breakfast: Yes. Late check out: Guaranteed. Upgrades: At check in.
Breakfast: Yes. Late check out: If Available. Upgrades: No guarantees.
Breakfast: Yes. Late check out: Guaranteed. Upgrades: Confirmed.
Breakfast: No. Late check out: If Available. Upgrades: No promises.
No two travellers circumstances are exactly the same. There’s just no way to work the inner details of anyones plans or circumstances, such as credit cards or travel patterns let alone the emotional components. With that said…
From a generalist point of view, this View From The Wing take is such an accessible and easy way to look at hotel loyalty. Start here, and then work your way up the chain of emotional attachments and benefits which make an impact on your stays.
If you take a good look, you’ll find that generally speaking, Hyatt offers an average rebate and extraordinary benefits, Marriott offers a great rebate and solid benefits, Hilton doesn’t do all *that* much and that IHG offers a great rebate, but weak benefits for everyone who’s status doesn’t say Royal Ambassador.