For every frequent traveler, you’ll find a different opinion to the question: does it pay to remain loyal to 1 hotel brand. My opinion is yes, it pays. For me, I’m loyal to Starwood. Now, I’m not saying that you can always stay at a hotel with the brand you’re loyal to. There are going to be exceptions – some cities/towns/countries may not have a hotel within your preferred brand. Starwood didn’t have a single hotel in The Hague, Netherlands, so I had to stay somewhere else. There maybe times when your preferred brand isn’t within your budget and you have to stay elsewhere. However, whenever I possibly can, I stay at Starwood hotels.
Why be loyal? There are perks. The more frequently you stay with a particular brand, or chain, the more valuable you become to them. The more revenue you spend with a brand, the more willing they are to help you when you run into issues or challenges. When you become an extremely frequent guest within a brand, there are special perks you become entitled to. Yep, that’s right, VIP perks.
Having stayed more than 100 nights at Starwood, I have a personal ambassador, who by the way, I happen to love. She’s a direct contact who is my advocate, can help with essentially anything I need help with – including booking a room at another chain if there’s no Starwood that I can stay in – and I get Starwood points by booking through her (that is also available via the Platinum Concierge for people with more than 50 nights in a year.) She arranged something special for my birthday, helped me with an odd situation for my New Year’s Eve hotel reservations and more. It’s great to have one point of contact to work with.
When available, I’m upgraded to the best suites possible, and when there’s not available, I don’t act like an entitled traveler (which I wrote about last year) and usually end up getting some other VIP experience or treatment.
As I said, everyone’s going to have a different a different opinion, and that’s okay. But in my opinion, building a relationship with one brand, and growing it is much better than not having a relationship at all.
But are you paying for your own stays? If not, then your loyalty doesn’t actually cost you any money so may as well get a few perks here and there on someone else’s dime.
If you’re paying out of your own pocket, however, I’d bet you’ll find the value quite different. You get one person who can help you only at that brand. That’s a marginal benefit at best. Getting value everywhere I go is far more useful. Hotel loyalty doesn’t provide that at all. Far from it, in fact.
Staying loyal to a single hotel brand means spending far more money than necessary, often for “perks” which don’t really justify the costs over time.
I think it depends on travel goals, but mainly the where and how. I have friends who want to live with the locals, and spend weeks in a region, whereas I enjoy the quick 2-3 day “layover.” I’m glad that I have Hilton points when I go to one of the Asian countries with Conrads, but also can see the benefit of accruing Club Carlson points for a European trip later this year. Certain chains have little presence (Hyatt in Europe) or are too expensive ($ or pts)in popular areas (SPG in NYC and London)…so you have to plan ahead and have an idea of what’s important to you. But overall, without some kind of 3rd party subsidy, I’m not sure if loyalty necessarily pays. I choose what’s best for a given location, and what’s reasonable for credit card bonuses/status.
@Wandering Aramean – I started the blog post by saying everyone would have their own opinion, and not everyone will agree.
Yes, I pay for a good deal of my own stays and even for those that I don’t pay for, it does cost me in other ways that aren’t financial Even though my company or my client may pay for 50+ nights in hotels it means those nights aren’t spent with my family, etc…
You’re entitled to your opinion that hotel loyalty doesn’t pay, but perhaps if you’ve never been loyal to a hotel you don’t know what you’re missing.
Being loyal to a particular program is definitely useful in terms of upgrades and benefits, but a program like Welcome Rewards from Hotels.com is most often a better value strictly from a monetary standpoint.
I was lucky to have the benefit of a company that paid for all of my stays while I achieved lifetime loyalty in two hotel programs. Now that I don’t travel as much, and pay for travel myself, it is nice to have the perks at both a midsize chain and a larger one.
Just curious what year you are talking about with Starwood and the Hague? I stayed in Des Indes in 2006 and it is still in Starwood Hotels.
Glad to see a no credit card affiliate links site. I certainly have more interest in reading about travel than reading about banking schemes.
@Ric Garrido – should have been more specific, no Starwood hotels in the Hague I could afford! Spent 1 night at Des Indes in October, but it’s way above my budget.
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