FTU Presentation: Choosing a Hotel Loyalty Program

As promised, here’s the second of two presentations I gave at Frequent Traveler University in Seattle. It’s actually the first of the two talks, and unfortunately I was not as impressed with its delivery — there were technical issues, and it was a late addition to the schedule. But hotel loyalty programs are particularly interesting to me due to the many considerations such as elite status, earning/redeeming points, and different quality expectations. It’s much more difficult (in my opinion) to identify the unique features of airlines.

I have corrected a few errors and added some notes to this presentation. It will need a full revision before I present it again, but many people have requested that I share this talk anyway. Please feel free to leave any constructive criticism in the comments. Here are some background posts you may find helpful:

As a reminder, you can also find my other talk, on Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, which I shared last week.

Scott created Travel Codex after learning how to travel better on a budget during grad school. He now flies over 150,000 miles every year.
Email // Twitter // Facebook // Google+ // Subscribe by RSS

  • http://www.milesforfamily.com Milesforfamily

    I liked the presentation, well done! One thing I’ll disagree on, is mediocrity of IHG Platinum status. Quite the contrary. We have been upgraded to a suite almost every single time, including award stays. They give free mixed drinks or other freebies. Not much, but something.
    Also, some of my relatives have even gotten free breakfast due to my Platinum status, when I booked the award stay and added them as an additional guest. I would say, IHG Platinum status is very underrated in this hobby.

    • Scottrick

      Point taken. And I think it’s great that some programs like IHG and Marriott do a good job of going above and beyond some of their stated benefits. I would just prefer that these be promised up front and not given out so often that they become expectations …until that unfortunate time when you were hoping for an upgrade and were disappointed.

      • http://www.milesforfamily.com Milesforfamily

        You are right that the benefits should be a guarantee. Honestly, I am surprised that IHG Platinum status is often overlooked as a significant benefit of Chase IHG Visa. We certainly got a tremendous value out of it.

  • Corey

    Would making a post listing your top hotel chain per country be of any interest?
    I would like to know which countries I visit have the best chains then I can put my effort toward those chains. Everyone has a different list of countries they visit so a list would help them decide. Just throwing it out there.

    • Scottrick

      That’s a good idea. I’ve already been asked to compare programs on more equal footings, e.g., “top-tier” with Club Carlson isn’t the same as “top-tier” with Hyatt or SPG.

  • Charlie

    Thanks for posting the slides. I thought your presentation and Ed’s SPG v. Hyatt presentation complimented each other well.

    Oh, and I thought it was awesome that you used the term “bi-modal distribution” during your presentation.

  • http://www.rapidtravelchai.com Rapid Travel Chai

    I like the analytical approach, looking at dispassionate numbers brings a new perspective.

    And I like all the Club Carlson negativity out there, for us international travelers the program offers incredible value and with gold status I frequently get upgrades to elaborate rooms and suites, and lounge access, beyond what the other hotel do for me (currently Starwood Platinum, and the others the status from credit cards). They are growing big in Africa, Asia, Central America, Middle East, plus the existing footprint in Europe.