Monday, June 11, 2012

Hotel Loyalty Overall Program Comparison

For easier reading, I decided to create one overall post focusing on the loyalty programs of four of the bigger mid-upscale hotel players in the travel business - Starwood, Hilton, Marriott & Hyatt.  As Priority Club, Accor, Best Western, Choice, Club Carlson, Fairmont operate in a slightly less standardized fashion, I'll likely address those separately at some point in the future.

*Last updated in 2012 prior to 2013 program changes. Look for updates soon!*

Property Categories - Hyatt ( Coming soon! )
Free Night Redemptions - Hyatt (See analysis here)
Room/Suite Upgrades/Redemptions - SPG / Hyatt (See analysis here)
Cash & Point Redemptions - SPG / Hilton (See analysis here)
Earning points with hotel stays - Marriott / Hilton (See analysis here)
Point Conversion Partners - Hilton (See analysis here)
Airline Transfer Partners - SPG (See analysis here)
Credit Card Earnings Partners - Hyatt / Hilton HHonors (Coming soon!)
Membership Levels and Benefits - Marriott/Hilton (See analysis here)
Based on the categories above, it was a tough choice to determine which loyalty program is 'best' as it really depends on what you find important, what you're looking for and how you use the various programs. Personally for me, despite the strength of the universally acclaimed Starwood program (and I certainly do see many of  the merits of the Starwood Preferred Guest program), I would argue that the Hilton program offers the best overall program (even after the devaluation) given its strengths in a wide variety of areas.

However, if you're just looking for free nights redemptions and ease of earning those, Hyatt is definitely heads and shoulders above the competition

But as always, never put all your eggs in a single basket, especially when the other programs are so competitive. Hyatt and Starwood offer ridiculously great value if you know what to look for and the Marriott elite program is, IMHO, unrivaled at the moment.

Disclosure: All loyalty program information is taken from their respective websites.  Also, I am not paid by any of the hotels to endorse their products.

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