I am looking for your insights. Being a member of 3 loyalty programs this past year, I decided to do a side-by-side comparison to see which one I should concentrate on in 2010. I looked at Hilton, Marriott, and Starwood in 6 categories:
Cost to attain elite status
Top Tier Benefits
Cost for a "free" night at Category 1
Cost for a "free" night at Category 7.
I found that going through this analysis process was very helpful to me to drop one of my programs, and I hope that by sharing it it will be helpful to you as well. I would love your feedback on the analysis: did I miss anything, is the information helpful, etc. Any other words of wisdom you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
The link is: www.travelprincessdiaries.com
The article is "Where should you place your loyalty in 2010?"
Thanks for all the great posts!! Keep them coming!!
TravelPrincessDiaries.com is excellent! With minor exception, the comparison charts are 'Just Right', easy on the eye and informative from a US-centric perspective. The comparison categories appear to build upon the 'buckets' used in the Freddie Awards. Speaking of which, there is occasional use of the word, 'value', but one of the takeaways resulting from the Minimum Cost analysis is that Marriott appears to be the 'Best Value,' an unstated conclusion.
Redeeming Points is the only category that merits some recalculation. For example, the bulk of Marriott Vacation Club 'inventory' includes 2 bedroom 'villas'. There are resorts with studios, 1 bedroom and 3 bedroom villas. When the MVC brand was integrated into the Marriott 'Hotel Category' designation in July 2009, the resorts fell into Categories 5, 6 and 7. The number of points required to redeem an award for MVC units includes the base points for the Category plus 5,000 points additional for each bedroom per night. So, Marriott may need to be adjusted upwards as follows:
Category 5: 20K to 35K
Category 6: 25K to 45K
Category 7: 30K to 50K
The range of the points required per Hotel Category cleverly take into account Marriott Pointsavers. For clarity, consider including an annotation referencing the difference between Hotel Rewards and PointSavers.
I've done the same calculations and agree with your analysis. You have missed something. the Marriott program is actually more favorable since most Platinums will earn their status every year. If so you will likely max out atleast 2 Mega Bonus programs a year for 50,000 points each, and a few Brand specific promotions for another 25,000 or so points. If in addition, you take advantage of a few points savers along the way, the free nights come very easily.
Thank you all for your feedback!!! I appreciate your comments and you (as usual) have given me more ideas for future articles.
Just to reply to some of the comments, the article started getting longer than I was hoping for, so I didnt include things like megabonus and paying for X nights, get the next night free. My goal was to stick with the base program then as promotions are offered, compare those individually (as was done with Megabonus and Hilton bonus).
I also didnt feel qualified to compare the Vacation Club aspects of the rewards programs. I know Hilton has Grand Vacations and Marriott has MVC, but since I am not a member of any program I didnt feel I could comment appropriately. If any of you feel qualified and would like to contribute a comparison piece, I would be more than happy to publish your work (and give you credit of course).
I think I still owe CountryJim a piece on smoking policies.
Thanks again for your encouragement and assistance!!
Pltnmprincess aka Travelprincess
I just wandered over to your website and found the article on "Where should you place your loyalty in 2010?". Loved it! Back in 2005 I put together something like this for internal distribution in my company (lot's of consultants) so it was wonderful to see it updated - and good to know that it was worth staying loyal to Marriott all these years.
It looks like Marriott is still the best choice - my main criteria is generally "bang for buck". I regularly redeem points at Marriotts all over the world and whether it's the JW Mumbai or Grosvenor House London, I still feel I'm getting more value than the comparable Starwood or Hilton properties - even though at times they may have marginally better properties / locations / amenities.