9 of the Best Hotel Loyalty Programs

9 of the Best Hotel Loyalty Programs

9 of the Best Hotel Loyalty Programs banner

Customer engagement and loyalty are crucial across many sectors, but nowhere is this quite so apparent than in travel and hospitality. Hotel chains in particular are determined to convince customers to return, as evidenced by their consistent use of strategically developed hotel loyalty programs.

Revolving around point accumulation and exchanges for free nights or upgrades, these setups work wonders for boosting retention rates and promoting direct bookings. This can also play heavily into email marketing and online reviews.

To illustrate the value of these solutions — and why they are so broadly leveraged within the hospitality industry — we’ve compiled a detailed guide highlighting several of the most successful loyalty programs. Keep reading to discover the power of hotel rewards.

Understanding Hotel Loyalty Programs

Because today’s consumers find it so easy to compare and contrast as they book hotels and rental properties online, it takes something special to score repeat business. For many hotel chains, this is best achieved by gamifying the booking process with points-based loyalty programs.

With most loyalty setups, regular customers are rewarded for visiting specific properties on a frequent basis. These committed travelers may earn points, discounts, or even free stays at their favorite hotels.

Done right, hotel loyalty programs can provide exciting opportunities for travelers and hospitality businesses alike. From the hotel’s perspective, this strengthens both engagement and retention while providing valuable upselling and cross-selling opportunities. Increasingly, loyalty programs are also viewed as a reliable mechanism for gathering customer information which, in turn, produces data-driven insights.

For customers, the appeal is simple: Save money while potentially enjoying a more sophisticated travel experience than would otherwise be available. These programs can have a powerful impact on customer satisfaction, making them feel like savvy travelers and highly appreciated guests.

Best Hotel Loyalty Programs

Most hotel loyalty programs follow a basic structure. When searching for accommodations and deciding whether to reserve rooms, customers enjoy the chance to sign up for these programs free of charge. They’re often encouraged by exclusive discounts and the promise of earning free nights. Later, they may receive marketing emails or other forms of outreach to keep their favorite hotel chains top of mind.

There are a few distinctions worth noting, largely related to how membership tiers are structured and how long it takes to earn free nights or other perks. We’ve detailed a few of the best hotel loyalty program strategies below, revealing which are the most compelling from the customer’s perspective — and which are most likely to produce impressive results for the many hospitality brands they include.

Marriot Bonvoy

As one of the most recognizable and successful loyalty programs, Marriott Bonvoy provides many opportunities to earn points, which can in turn be used on hotel stays, air travel, or a number of other leisure activities.

This program is easy to join, and even without ascending to upper tiers like Platinum Elite, Titanium Elite, or Ambassador Elite, members can score a variety of special perks. Thousands of global properties are involved with this program, making it easy to book at every price point imaginable. This may be confusing at times, as some Marriott-affiliated accommodations are not covered.

Hilton Honors

With Hilton Honors, the process of earning points is straightforward: Every U.S. dollar spent on Hilton stays produces 10 base points, whereas offshoots such as Home2Suites and Tru by Hilton offer just five points per dollar spent. The good news is that these points can be accrued based not only on the designated room rate but also when spending on phone calls and other extras.

In addition, Hilton Honors has a bonus point program that relates to its credit cards. These can also be earned by shopping online or renting cars as well. Free hotel stays can be secured through combinations of accrued base points and bonus points. With enough base points, elite tier status is possible, along with exclusive on-property privileges.

Wyndham Rewards

In many ways, Wyndham Rewards mimics the simplicity of the Hilton Honors program — the chance to earn ten points for every dollar spent. With Wyndham, however, many qualified stays automatically produce 1,000 points. Rewards Earner credit cards provide plenty of opportunities to earn bonus points.

Upon reaching 1,500 points, discounted room rates become available, with free nights entering the picture once travelers have reached 7,500 points. Members benefit most from the sheer scope of this program, which boasts more than 8,000 properties and a wide range of participating brands: La Quinta, Days Inn, and Ramada, to name a few.

IHG One Rewards

As yet another points-based reward program, IHG One Rewards provides exclusive member rates and promotions, plus opportunities for late checkout and various other exclusive perks. These depend to some extent on tier status, which can be difficult to navigate but certainly compelling for those who crave room upgrades or welcome amenities.

Holiday Inn and Kimpton properties are included, along with many other major names situated in big cities and across the globe. Some discounted rooms are not eligible for point accrual, however, and other properties have reduced earning rates. Still, this remains a great option for travelers who desire options at a range of price points.

World of Hyatt

Ideal for travelers who prefer mid-range or upscale properties at a fraction of the usual price, the World of Hyatt provides automatic access to a discounted rate upon signing up, with 10 percent off at participating hotels. There are a few additional tier levels that, with fun names like Discoverist, Explorist, and Globalist, stand out against the standard silver and gold tiers.

Higher levels offer attractive perks like late checkout and premium internet, with the Globalist allowing top members to easily upgrade to suites while enjoying access to Hyatt’s acclaimed club lounges.

This program is unique in that it provides an excellent incentive for participants to explore different types of Hyatt properties; members earn a free night as soon as they’ve booked stays with five different Hyatt brands. There are many other ways to save, especially as alliances with partnerships allow for the easy use of miles.

Choice Privileges

Brand recognition is not always a strength for the Choice Privileges program, but that hasn’t kept a variety of travelers from getting involved. This opportunity applies to Radisson brands, including familiar names such as Park Inn and Country Inn & Suites. This program has replaced the once-popular Radisson Rewards, although previous Radisson members have been allowed to transfer their points.

The Choice Privileges program makes it easy to earn points by booking hotel stays, car rentals, or even cruise vacations. Meanwhile, this program covers far more properties than many of its competitors. With more than 7,000 member properties, Choice Privileges is a go-to option for those who require maximum flexibility.

Best Western Rewards

Best Western might not evoke images of travel sophistication, but the brand has secured loyal customers nonetheless. The Best Western Rewards program may have a lot to do with this commitment, and with more than 4,000 properties to choose from, there are plenty of opportunities to experiment with different types of Best Western accommodations.

Where this rewards program excels is with its clear commitment to the Best Western brand and all it represents: comfortable and affordable travel. Beyond this, customers appreciate the lack of point expiration and the ability to redeem points on purchases other than hotel stays; for example, gift cards are well within reach.

Partnerships with airlines make it easy to accrue points quickly, and elite status can be matched simply by submitting proof of elevated membership status from another rewards program.

Leaders Club

The Leaders Club appeals to global travelers, as evidenced by its association with the memorably named Leading Hotels of the World. Representing hundreds of properties around the world, The Leading Hotels of the World encourages curated travel experiences by working with independent hotels.

This emphasis on independent properties makes The Leaders Club unique among large-scale loyalty programs. Members enjoy the perks of the loyalty experience as well as the opportunity to enjoy truly unique travel experiences. Those who tend to shy away from major hotel chains will want to give the Leaders Club a second look.

Sonesta Travel Pass

The Sonesta Travel Pass program includes all the hallmarks of the tried-and-tested loyalty setup — points that apply to free nights, plus member tiers that can provide extra perks such as upgraded internet or late checkout.

Multipliers promise faster advancement through these tiers, and what’s more, Sonesta provides an excellent reason to ditch competitors: Any new member with an elite status from a competitor can secure a similar tier status upon joining the Sonesta plan.

The process of redeeming free nights can be a bit clunky, and some travelers may regard the hotel selection (particularly for claiming free nights) as limited. Those who primarily travel within the United States will benefit most from this program, but only if they reserve rooms on a regular basis, as accrued points eventually expire.

Make Your Mark in Hospitality with JWU

Are you fascinated by the intricacies of the hospitality industry and eager to make a difference in this exciting field? You can find plenty of opportunities to help shape the travel industry as you pursue your degree through JWU’s hospitality programs. Available at the associate, bachelor’s, and master’s levels, these programs prepare you for the realities of hospitality management. For more information about completing your degree online or on-campus, complete the Request Information form, call 855-JWU-1881, or email [email protected].

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