With the purposes of winning new customers and keeping the existing ones happy, hotels are making continuous efforts to reinvent their loyalty programs. The two hotel giants, for example, Hilton and Marriott also updated their loyalty programs earlier this month. These new upgrades are good news for frequent travelers.
Hilton operates 14 brands in the global market, ranging from upper midscale to luxury hotels. Hilton is now offering more perks to its elite members, with the following changes:
· Silver members --- those accumulated a total of four stays or 10 nights in a year --- can earn 20 percent bonus points for eligible stays.
· Gold members --- those accumulated a total of 20 stays, or 40 nights, or 75K points in a year --- can earn 80 percent bonus points.
· Diamond members --- those accumulated a total of 30 stays, or 60 nights, or 120K points in a year --- can earn 100 percent bonus points.
· Hilton introduced the “elite rollover nights,” allowing elite members (Silver, Gold, or Diamond) to “rollover” the qualified nights that exceed the minimum requirement for the elite status level to the next calendar year. These rollover nights will also be counted towards their elite status for the next calendar year.
· Gold and Diamond members can now earn unlimited milestone bonus, including 10,000 bonus points at 40 eligible nights and additional 10,000 bonus points for every 10 additional eligible nights. At 60 eligible nights, the milestone bonus points will go up to 30,000.
· A Diamond member can now gift another Hilton Honors member a Gold elite status. Additionally, when the Diamond member reaches 100 qualifying nights in a calendar year, the gifted Gold elite status will also get upgraded to Diamond status as well.
Other perks, such as complimentary room upgrades and complimentary continental breakfast for Gold and Diamond members in selected properties, as well as executive lounge access for Diamond members will stay unchanged.
Even though Marriott acquired the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group back in 1995 and Starwood Hotels and Resorts in 2016, it was not until recently that Marriott announced its three reward programs, namely Marriott Rewards, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) would start merging into one powerful program starting in August this year. These three individual programs, however, will remain as they are until early 2019, with a new program name expected to be announced for the combined program.
Because these three programs are operated separately, elite members (even with the same status) can now enjoy different perks as outlined in each of the three reward programs. Travelers can expect a few major changes to the new program, according to a Business Insider report. For example,
· Marriott properties, now including 29 brands and 6,500 hotels, will be grouped into eight (8) categories. Travelers can redeem their award nights with points according to a new award chart, which includes different prices for peak, standard, and off-peak pricing under each category.
· When travelers transfer their SPG points to their Marriott Reward program, the converting rate from SPG points to Marriott Reward points is 1:3, meaning one SPG point will turn into three (3) Marriott points.
· The new program will also allow travelers to transfer their points to the partnered airlines’ frequent flyer programs with bonus, as what has been doing in SPG but not in Marriott Reward or the Ritz Carlton Reward. In the new program, travelers can collect a bonus of 15,000 airline miles for every 60,000 points transferred.
· The new program will also expand Marriott’s “Moments” experiential platform, allowing travelers to redeem points for various unique experience (e.g., taking classes with a master chef, backstage tour at a concert, and etc.), which is similar to what Airbnb Experience offers to a large extent.
· The thresholds for travelers to earn an elite status under the new reward program starts from 10 eligible nights for Silver, 25 nights for Gold, 50 nights for Platinum, and 75 nights for Platinum Premier.
Certainly, Marriott will announce more updates about this combined reward program in the near future, but at this moment, what do you think about these new changes? Will these two revamped reward programs motivate more travelers to become a loyal customer to Hilton or Marriott? Will more travelers “book direct” on a hotel’s brand website? Or will they continue making hotel reservations on an OTA’s (online travel agent’s) website, such as on Expedia or Priceline? Furthermore, can hotels’ reward programs help them conquer the threats created by Aribnb and OTAs?