According to an IHG study, Hotel Loyalty Programs are now more valuable in the eyes of participants than are airline ones.
No shock there since FF programs are fraught with restrictions, black out dates, and very limited seat availability. Ask anyone who has tried to get a seat or upgrade (and is not wired as a top tier flier) and the response is normally, "didn't get it!"
So, given that we love hotel frequent sleeper programs best, can we assume that they will continue to evolve for the better? Sure hope so.
very surprised at this study. I feel much more strongly about my frequent flier status than my hotel status. One thing for sure, as a top tier frequent flier, recognition and rewards are MUCH greater than those of my hotel program experience. Anyone else?? Maybe the average traveler would agree with the study.
Admittedly my uber-frequent flying days were long ago, and while at the top tier with two carriers nationally and internationally, I loved the attention I got and the service after the flight. Being met by limos in Europe provided by the airline was a very special perk.
Flying especially since 9/11 is not a fun thing, not even in First Class for me. It starts with those interminable and infernal T.S.A. lines, then extends to the less than helpful customer service reps, and of course, those wonderful bag charges, and other inconveniences. Plus the airline tariff, their fare schedule is harder to fathom than the federal tax code. It's no wonder that "go to meeting" and other online purveyors are doing so well, while airlines have been struggling.
I am also concerned that maintenance is always a lag behind thing--witness the recent Southwest open air adventure in Yuma. Cash strapped carriers cannot be that good--if they were they'd never miss these kinds of "defects."
So given the fact that I have to fly occasionally I set the bar so low that anything positive is a pleasant surprise. Hotels are much less challenging for me and while not perfect at least give me a good night's sleep for my money.
I wonder if any Insiders can honestly say that they enjoy flying these days. I don't but am willing to listen to those who do. Tell us your airline FF tier if you will so we can see if that makes a difference.
Here is my experience flying today as a top tier member of American Airlines. I get upgraded about 80% of the time and am ALWAYS greeted by name and thanked for my loyalty. Compare that to about a 10% upgrade rate with Marriott and hardly ANY recognition at sign. Which would you say is better?????
Dear Stepping Stones,
One small point arising out of your reference to the respective merits of airline and hotel loyalty programmes: location is a critical factor. I imagine that the great majority of "Insiders" are based in North America and therefore mainly experience the US hotel and airline "styles". Being based in UK, with a centre of gravity that tends to veer east (i.e. Europe and Asia) rather than west, I can offer a slightly difference perspective. Firstly, either I have been exceptionally fortunate or Marriotts in my zones are significantly more lucky to upgrade; secondly, I find that "newer" airlines (e.g. Singapore, Emirates, Etihad, Qatar), as opposed to the more traditional US/UK/Western European flyers, are much more likely to operate to a higher standard and offer a generous and reliable loyalty programme.
As A Delta Platinum Medallion member, I've gotten upgraded 100% of the time domestically and frequently on international flights. I also have never had trouble booking a FF ticket, although that may be partly because my schedule is flexible.
I would count my Marriott points and Delta FF miles about equally which makes it very hard to decide when to use which credit card.
No brainer--it's American hands down! But not for everyone, just top tier fliers I would assume. My experience with coach on American was the worst--my knees still ache from the lack of legroom.
Now when I do leave the ground it's Jet Blue almost always.
Again, my frequent flying days are long behind me--the car is my primary mode of transport these days, though a pilot told me recently (on one of my few airline adventures) that flying is actually cheaper than walking! And he's right.
PS--my upgrade experience at Marriott is much better (over 50%) and they always greet me by name (calling me "sir")
well said. as in most cases, it's in the eyes of the beholder. by the way, the down-side of being upgraded so often is that when I am not I too feel terribly cramped. I also agree with the pilot, it's cheaper than walking, and the only way to head across the pond. Unless, of course, you have the time to take a ship....
Now I just have to figure out why I am not getting upgraded very often at Marriott......
I think it's a toss-up. As a Million Mile member in American's program (and Marriott PLAT lifer), which is good for Gold, I rarely get an upgrade domestically because I'm always at the bottom of the list.
By the same token, 90% of the time that I check into a Marriott I rarely get an upgraded room.
well said. the reality is that the loyalty programs offer little more than trinkets to their valued customers. In my estimation, the value is in the "points", anything else is a plus. would anyone really ever choose a hotel based on the "arrival gifts" we've seen pictures of?
I would say that I prefer Hotel loyalty programs over the airlines primarily due to the availability of travel awards. I've been Silver Medallion with Delta for a year, and Premier with United (in the past) for a couple years. I found it almost impossible (especially on Delta), to book award travel with all the restrictions and limited seats. An example: We're travelling to Hawaii this summer using both Marriott points for hotel and United miles for flights. I needed to book my flights using miles in August 2010, and even then, space was limited. However, I could still book my hotel now using points, and would not have any problems with availability.
That being said, I still do like the airline awards programs. I've been upgraded about 80% of the time on Delta, and like using miles for restaurant gift cards, which is much easier than trying to find a flight using miles with them. Also, American is part of points.com where you can redeem miles for all sorts of stuff.
In summary, both are valuable, but I prefer Hotel loyalty programs. (especially Marriott!)
All my Delta upgrades are free. They're pretty much guaranteed in the US in my experience but in 2010 I got 3 unpaid upgrades to Ireland, France, and Italy. On other occasions I have specifically used my miles to fly business class on longer distance flights.
(So it's a toss-up for me, like I said, which credit card to use or which shopping mall to order from. In some cases it's easy -- at a MArriott I always use my Platinum Premier Chase card for 5 points per dollar spent. But both my Marriott Chase and Delta Skymiles Reserve card give me 2 pts/miles for airline tickets). The difference I've noticed with my D SK Amex card is that I get regular 10,000 mi bonuses for reaching new levels, etc.)
Delta Diamond / Million Miler here and my airline rewards blow away anything I get from hotels / Marriott... complimentary first-class upgrades on almost all domestic flights and availability on all Delta flights for award tickets although I do have to use more than 25,000 points for some of the tickets.
Marriott room upgrades are virtually non-existent, maybe one out of every 15 nights if that. Grow more frustrated and disappointed with Marriott every day and have work colleagues that claim to get far more upgrades at at H and S properties.
I have a co-worker that used his upgrade on American Airlines and Delta to fly to the Far East and had to change his flight by one day. After paying for the upgrade to First Class with 25000 miles and $450 - he was not able to get First Class on the day he changed too and also was not able to get his $ or the miles credited back to his account. Apparently - you lose them or you can use them in 12 months for the same exact route ONLY!!! Really? If we are going to the FAR EAST today there may not be a FAR EAST trip within 12 months. They do make it hard to actually give us anything. It doesn't seem worth it to have their programs with so many reasons why you can't use what you earn unless you meet the exact criteria and if something changes you are losing your miles. I have not experienced this with Marriott. Their Rewards Customer Service Staff are always accommodating and helpful with issues that I need help with. I usually don't hang up mad - they are always helpful and resolve my issues. I would like to get rid of my airline programs and convert to Marriott if I can move my miles to my points. I am still researching who else partners with Marriott to do this if I can.