Hotel Loyalty Programs
Did you know that you can get room upgrades, free nights and some nice freebies with hotel loyalty programs? Most people are familiar with airline frequent flyer programs but many completely overlook hotel loyalty programs otherwise known as frequent guest programs.
Just like airlines, hotel loyalty programs follow a tier system (e.g. silver, gold, platinum). The more you stay the higher your tier and the greater your benefits.
In all cases, the loyalty programs will offer a system of rewards. You collect points toward free nights or you can use a points plus pay option. Being on a higher tier will earn you bonus points making it even easier to earn free nights.
Collecting points and earning free nights is only one aspect of hotel loyalty programs.
Again following a tier system, a range of additional benefits is offered. Here are some that we particularly enjoy…
Express Check in and Check Out. You may have noticed a strip of carpet and a special counter. Hotels don’t like to keep their loyal guests waiting
Complimentary Room Upgrades. Not guaranteed but if they have a better room available, you’ll get it. It always pays to ask
Welcome Drink Vouchers. A nice touch. It costs them very little and encourages guests to try their bar.
Fruit platter in the room. Another nice touch that sometimes is exactly what you want
Complimentary Internet and Newspaper. We don’t have much time to read newspapers when we are away but complimentary Internet is nice and can save quite a lot of money with what some hotels charge!
Late Checkout. Like Room upgrades this is never guaranteed but if you are friendly and ask nicely in plenty of time they will try hard to push the boundaries for you. To be able to keep your room until say 4pm means that you can spend a half day exploring, enjoy a nice lunch and then return to your hotel to freshen up before travelling to your next destination.
Late checkout is usually offer to Gold and Platinum guests.
Early Checkin. Again, never guaranteed but if you are arriving in a city early and you note that on your reservation with a request for early check in, if they can give it to you they will. Early Check in is normally only offered to Platinum guests.
Being a known and recognized customer. It is nice to be able to record your room and floor preferences in your profile. It is nice to receive special recognition and a warm greeting upon arrival. It is definitely nice to know that the management want you to be happy because your positive or negative experience will affect the whole brand not just one property that you may never visit again.
Just joining a hotel loyalty program is worth it and immediately gives benefits such as free internet. But actually being loyal and gaining higher tiers makes the benefits even stronger. This means that you need to choose which chain you can use the most and favour them until you hit Gold or Platinum. If you travel a lot, you will be able to establish yourself with more than one hotel loyalty program.
Photo: Leela Palace, Bangalore, India. Part of the GHA group.