It’s a fact: Canadians love earning points.
According to a 2019 global study by KPMG, Canadians are one of the most active loyalty program users in the world. From Canadian Tire money to Air Miles, we’re dedicated point hounds, committed in our pursuit of the next reward level.
With an average of 12 loyalty cards per Canadian, many travellers are focused on programs such as Air Miles, Aeroplan or WestJet Rewards, but should there be a slot in the wallet for a hotel loyalty program? Here’s the pros and cons of five hotel loyalty programs and how they can benefit travel planning:
Accor Live Limitless
The good: With Accor offering more than 3,000 properties in Europe (and 5,100 in 110 countries), travellers regularly meeting at the European office will benefit from the program’s 40 brands; Fairmont, Novotel and Sofitel can be reserved in Canada. Entry-level classic membership includes free WiFi, newspapers, local calls, online check-in/check-out and 10-per-cent discount on room rates.
The great: Accor is partnered with Avis, Hertz and Europcar, so roadtrippers can convert rewards earned with these car rental companies into Accor points.
The meh: Points can expire 365 days after last eligible stay, are calculated based on euros and there’s only 150 properties in North America.
How to get the points: With five membership tiers, the higher the tier, the more points earned for every €10 ($13.3) spent. Boost point totals with hotel purchases on dining, spa and the minibar and through event planning – business meetings, conferences or private events.
What’s new: Accor has a dedicated website for business travel, with sections customized for corporate travellers, personal assistants/travel bookers and travel managers. Also, there’s a new program for small- to medium-sized businesses, Work With A View, where members receive reservation discounts on more than 20 Accor brands including Fairmont, Ibis and Sofitel.
Buzzy location: Newly renovated Fairmont Mayakoba in Playa del Carmen, Mexico has unveiled Maykana Beach Club this month, featuring five dining options, private cabanas, seaside pools and terraces with firepits for sunrise to sunset lounge time.
The good: This established brand has grown to 6,700 hotels and resorts around the world and has focused on young professionals with Connected Room offering tech perks and Five Feet to Fitness, rooms that have fitness amenities. The Hilton Honors app provides all members with a lengthy benefits list including online check-in, digital room key through a smartphone, free Wifi, no resort fees and more amenities for gold, silver and diamond members. In Canada, travellers have access to 10 out of 18 Hilton brands and with a Mastercard World or World Elite cards, access to exclusive promotions.
The great: Landing top-tier diamond status is attainable with 42 nights, and includes 80-per-cent bonus points per stay, free continental breakfast and access to an executive lounge. Points can also be earned using Lyft and with more than 30 airlines partners.
The meh: No guaranteed late check-out at any status level.
How to get points: Connect a Lyft account to gain more points and participate in the Hilton Honors Dining Program, with participating restaurants offering points. Members also receive milestone bonuses of 10,000 points after 30 nights, and additional 10,000 points for every additional 10 nights. The handy Point & Money Rewards Payment Slider available in the program’s app allows members to choose any combination of money and points to reserve accommodation.
What’s new: Bid or redeem points on the newly launched Hilton Honors Experiences like a behind the scenes tour of the McLaren Technology Centre, home of McLaren Racing or bid on private singing lessons with Pentatonix.
Buzzy location: Downtown Los Angeles’ Grand LA, which includes the Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Broad Museum added the first Conrad Hotel in California this past July. Designed by starchitect Frank Gehry, the boutique hotel has four dining options overseen by chef Jose Andres.
IHG One Rewards
The good: One of the first hotel loyalty programs, the International Hotel Group (IHG) includes 6,000 hotels and resorts, with 195 hotels in 10 provinces, making it easy for business travellers who need face-to-face meetings in smaller centres and big cities. With the IHG app, members can message directly with customer service, and receive info on hotel amenities, local attractions and dining options. And for those who make bookings for others, IHG Business Rewards offers three points per one U.S. dollar spent.
The great: For an annual fee of US$200, members can become an Intercontinental Ambassador resulting in platinum elite status, room upgrades, late checkout, restaurant/bar credit per stay and a complimentary weekend at 200 Intercontinental Hotels around the world.
The meh: Club members points expire after 12 months if there isn’t account activity.
How to get points: Members earn 10 points for every U.S. dollar; with five tiers of membership, it takes only 10 nights to move up the ladder from club to silver elite, and receive 20 per cent additional bonus points with each stay. The next three levels (gold, platinum and diamond) include options for membership rewards (including a points bump) and with all four elite membership levels, points never expire.
What’s new: This pet-positive hotel chain (17 brands welcome pets) introduced Pets + Points in summer 2021. Currently available only at selected U.S. properties, the program rewards guests with 2,000 bonus points and discounts on pet fees.
Buzzy location: As one of IHG’s newest brands, voco opened the first of five Middle East hotels this past May in Doha, Qatar: voco Doha West Bay Suites, a 316-room property, with suites and penthouses suited for extended stays, such as during the FIFA World Cup this November.
The good: The mega-merger of Marriott, Starwood and Ritz-Carlton resulted in 30 hotel brands united into one colossal loyalty program. Canadians can access 270 hotels within our borders and more than 7,300 hotels around the globe. For the 2022 business traveller, 1,000 participating hotels offer the Extended Stay program with perks such as studio accommodation, complimentary hot breakfast and bicycles to make it easy to work from anywhere.
The great: Eat Around Town Dining Rewards program gains members four points for every U.S. dollar, or elite members six points per dollar. And redeem points for Marriott Bonvoy Moments, such as concerts at NYC’s Madison Square Gardens or packages to see the L.A. Kings or L.A. Clippers play at Crypto.com Arena.
The meh: Many Marriott Bonvoy hotels charge resort fees on both paid and award stays regardless of membership status and getting to the top tiers of membership is difficult unless you’re a constantly on the road.
How to get points: With five memberships tiers, get a boost with the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express card, earning five points for every U.S. dollar staying at member hotels, two points a dollar on any other purchases and silver elite status which comes with 10-per-cent bonus points per stay.
What’s new: Recently revamped Marriott Bonvoy app makes it easier for members to increase points with customized promotions, offers contactless check-in/checkout and ability to request amenities in advance or during your stay.
Buzzy location: The Marriott Downtown at CF Eaton Centre has opened Par Bar powered by Topgolf Swing Suite, a sports fan’s ultimate lounge, with two massive screens, snacks and sips and 11 virtual games including hockey, baseball, football and golf.
World of Hyatt
The good: Business travellers who regularly spend time in major cities such as New York, Mexico City and Hong Kong will benefit from the 1,100 hotels in this program’s portfolio, concentrated in metropolises in Canada, U.S., Mexico, Europe and Asia such as Thompson, Hyatt Regency, Andaz and Park Hyatt hotels.
The great: Free nights can be achieved faster than other programs, as redemption begins at 3,500 points, with most programs starting at 5,000 points. World of Hyatt points do expire, but only after 24 months of account inactivity.
The meh: Members earn five points every U.S. dollar spent, the lowest of all the hotel loyalty programs.
How to get points: With four membership levels, members can hit the next level through hotel stays and/or meetings/events hosted. World of Hyatt’s Milestone Rewards is available to all members and solely based on number of nights stayed which annoints members with free nights, suite upgrades and bonus points.
What’s new: Seven all-inclusive resort brands including Zoetry, Dreams, Secrets and Sunscape have joined World of Hyatt, a bonus for sunseekers to earn and redeem points.
Buzzy location: Hyatt has opened its second 7 Pines Resort in Sardinia, a five-star luxe beach resort on Costa Smeralda, featuring on-site yachts to daytrip lagoons and beaches of the La Maddalena archipelago.
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