Is Mattress Running Still Worth It?

“Mattress running” is a term which sounds like it could be dirty, but it’s not.

Much like mileage running is flying for the sole purpose of accumulating airline miles and/or status, mattress running is staying at hotels for the sole purpose of accumulating hotel points and/or status.

My mattress runs back in the day…

Many years back when I lived in Tampa I’d do two mattress runs just about every weekend. This was back in the recession when Hyatt offered their “Faster Free Nights” promotion. Through this promotion Gold Passport members could receive a free night at any Hyatt hotel in the world after two stays.

In other words, two stays at your cheap local Hyatt would get you a free night at the Park Hyatt Sydney, Park Hyatt TokyoPark Hyatt Zurich, etc.

Park-Hyatt-Sydney-45
View from the Park Hyatt Sydney — not a bad reward for two nights at my local hotel!

For me that usually meant I would stay at the Grand Hyatt Tampa on Friday and Sunday nights (I’d spend Saturday at home), where the rate was ~$80 per night.

Grand-Hyatt-Tampa-14
Grand Hyatt Tampa

Those two stays would cost me ~$160, and I’d earn:

  • One free night anywhere in the world (through Faster Free Nights)
  • 5,000 bonus points (you get 2,500 bonus points per stay when you’re a Diamond member and the club lounge is closed)
  • 3,000 bonus points (at the time Hyatt had a “G3” promotion, where you’d earn 1,500 bonus points per stay)
  • 2,000 bonus points (as a Diamond member you get a 1,000 point welcome amenity each stay)
  • 1,000 base points (Diamond members earn 6.5 points per dollar spent, so that’s based on spend)

Grand-Hyatt-Tampa-39
I loved when the club lounge at the Grand Hyatt Tampa was closed!

So $160 got me a free night at any Hyatt in the world, plus 11,000 points. At the time Hyatt’s top hotels cost just 18,000 points per night (nowadays they cost 30,000 points per night).

It was a no brainer at the time, though those days are long gone!

Am I overvaluing Hyatt’s current promotion?

Hotel programs aren’t as generous as they used to be with promotions, and for good reasons — they don’t have to be. The hotel industry is doing quite well, so they don’t have to offer huge incentives to fill hotel rooms.

Over the past week we’ve learned the details of the summer promotions being offered by Hyatt, StarwoodIHG, Club Carlson, and Wyndham. I’ve argued that the most generous summer promotion is Hyatt’s, as they’re offering 75,000 bonus points after staying 25 nights.

Hyatt-Promotion

Over the course of 25 nights, that translates to 3,000 bonus points per night. I value Hyatt points at ~1.5 cents each, so to me that’s like a return of ~$45 per night through the promotion alone.

Reader James K. left the following comment regarding my thoughts on the Hyatt promotion:

I still maintain you’re absurdly high on the current Hyatt promotion, which can probably be maximized by .1% of people who read this blog.

While I think the 0.1% figure is way off (there are plenty of road warriors who spend 100+ nights per year in hotels who read this site), he may actually be onto something.

Obviously the promotion is ideal if you’d stay 25 nights anyway, but then I started looking at the potential for mattress running for this promotion.

Can you mattress run Hyatt’s promotion?

Mattress running isn’t as lucrative as it used to be (as explained above), but I figured it could be worth it. Say you make 25 separate stays during the promotion period:

  • You’d earn Diamond status, which comes with tons of valuable perks
  • If you subtracted $45 per night from the nightly cost of the room (accounting for the promotion), your actual acquisition cost of status might be very low

So I figured it could make sense for many people to take advantage of the promotion under those circumstances. This could be tough to do if you live in a market like New York or San Francisco or Los Angeles, where hotel rates tend to be quite high.

I figured in markets with more limited service hotels (especially in suburbs), it should be quite easy.

I started investigating different markets to give some examples of how this could be done economically, but I noticed a consistent trend — the cost of limited service properties (like Hyatt Place) has gone way up in the past few years. I guess this actually shows the success of major brands offering limited service properties, since it seems to have increased their average nightly room rate significantly.

Hyatt-Place

I remember looking at limited service properties in Phoenix in summer a few years back, and virtually all properties were available for ~$60 over the weekends.

Now in looking at rates in the middle of summer on a Sunday night (historically the slowest night for hotels), I see one property for ~$72, and the rest are significantly more expensive:

Hyatt-Cost

The same is true at limited service Hyatt properties in Atlanta on Sunday nights, where you’d think rates would be super low. Instead they’re $90+ per night, so you’re looking at paying over $100 per night with tax even during the slowest period.

Hyatt-Atlanta-Rates

Don’t get me wrong, there are still some super cheap chain hotels out there. For example, there are Aloft hotels in China for ~$30 per night. But those aren’t quite as practical for a weekend mattress run as your local Hyatt Place in the US (well, unless you happen to live in those cities in China). 😉

Aloft-Room

Bottom line

Mattress running isn’t as rewarding as it used to be, given that hotels simply aren’t offering promotions as lucrative as in the old days. Still, I’ve long said that it can make sense to mattress run when you factor in a combination of the value of status and the points earned.

In other words, if you were to make 25 one night stays at a hotel which is $70 per night, you’d be out of pocket $1,750. But you’d earn around 90,000 points (75,000 bonus points through the promotion, plus 15,000 bonus points through base spend and credit card spend), which I value at ~$1,350. So your real out of pocket cost for Diamond status would be ~$400, which most would probably consider worthwhile, assuming they don’t mind checking into hotels 25 times.

But nowadays the biggest barrier to that is that the cost of limited service properties seems to be on the rise, so finding that $70 per night suburban Hyatt Place is far from a given.

Have you also noticed the increased cost of limited service properties in the US? Anyone still find it worthwhile to do mattress runs to take advantage of a combination of a promotion and status requalification?

Comments

  1. I can find full service Hyatt’s for around $80-100/night on weekends which is worth it for the 1000 diamond bonus, the better breakfast, and sometimes even the closed club bonus.

  2. Ben,

    I am a weekly business traveler and staying at a Hyatt House for 3 nights week. There is a company bonus of 2,500 per stay and the total room points including Diamond bonus is about 3,500. Plus with my Hyatt credit card, another 1,000 points. Now with this promotion, add 3,000 per stay, which equals to 10,000 points per stay until the promotion expires! Talk about amazing!

  3. Why would you call the lower tiers like Hyatt place as limited service when in reality those are the ones with free parking and free breakfast etc, while the so called full service options nickle and dime on everything.

    The lower tier brands are even more friendlier and homelier, without all the air of snootiness and better than thou attitude

  4. @ Ken — That’s just the industry term for those properties. Much like JetBlue, Southwest, etc., are “low cost carriers,” even though they’re often not lower cost…

  5. I’m in the middle of doing my first ever mattress run because of this Hyatt promotion. I already had three nights booked at the Park Hyatt in Sydney for September. I’m staying with my parents, so am doing the mattress run to (a) earn enough points to pay for my stay using points (it’s currently booked on a combination of cash & points, and paid nights), and (b) to earn Diamond status, so that I can get free breakfast for three of us for our three days. I’ll come out ahead by doing the mattress run (versus paying for the room and breakfasts in cash).

  6. @Ben – Is the Diamond Challenge still available? If so, that would increase the value of the offer as well, even without the full 25 nights.

  7. “The hotel industry is doing quite well, so they don’t have to offer huge incentives to fill hotel rooms.”

    How could that be with sites like Airbnb and Flipkey? Most people, given the choice, would and do chose Airbnb. People like myself, who need to maintain status, matress run. Still does not make sense, how hotels are doing well…..

  8. @ Sama — There’s no doubt that airbnb is gaining leisure market share, they they aren’t gaining much business market share. So hotel occupancy and rates are doing quite well.

  9. With the exception of dc
    Try hyatt regency fairfax on may 5-9, that’s 71 before tax per night with seasonal promotion. But it’s combinable with citi prestige….so it’s around 235 after tax and rebate after all (rate is higher on 4th night). So it’s approximately even with 15,000 pts earned.

  10. I wouldn’t mattress run from zero to 25 stays, but if business and vacation travel put me close (ie. 22 stays) then I’d definitely consider mattress running to get to Diamond Status.

  11. I’m really hoping they’ll do a status match but I am considering doing a run in Las Vegas as all the Mlife properties are Hyatts as well. Excalibur and Luxor every other day could work out pretty quick. I have a Nevada DL so I sometimes get the “resort fee” of 30 bucks waived which could significantly reduce the cost of getting Diamond status (paying 40 +/- a night).

  12. @sama – likely not, unless AirBnB, Homeaway, etc. offers lucrative rates for business and/or group rates. As an Executive Assistant for a nonprofit often times the non-monetary costs of booking an AirBnB for business outweighs the costs, at least for my organization. If a group of us are going for a conference, it’s much easier for all of us to stay at a hotel than going back and forth from an AirBnB. AirBnB also doesn’t provide room block rates when I need rooms for 10+ people a night. Furthermore, I know that for business that the people I support would rather be at a hotel with assurance of basically 24 hour service, if needed, than having to deal with host schedules after long days of meetings, etc.

    Essentially there are numerous reasons why hotels, especially major chains, will continue to have tons of business customers even with the growth of AirBnB (which, as Lucky has stated, is suiting better with leisure travelers).

  13. To @sama’s comment about Airbnb – I’m predominantly a leisure traveler. I generally take one business trip a year to my company’s headquarters in Chicago, and stay at the Hyatt Place next door to the office.

    For the rest of my leisure travel, I stay at Hyatts because it makes sense for me to keep everything in the one program. I would never consider staying at an AirBnB; I view them (like Uber) as being unlicensed and non-regulated, and don’t feel comfortable staying in a stranger’s home (or riding in a stranger’s care in the case of Uber).

  14. I’m going to do a mattress run tonight in Phoenix Marriott Mesa, for ‘Free Night for New Members'(yeah, I’m a SPG guy and never bother to register for Marriott before…..) and ‘MegaBonus’, two free night at a category 1 – 5 hotel after two stays is pretty good and a good start for getting ready for the merge…..

  15. Lucky*

    I’ve heard rumors of Hyatt not rewarding the 2,500 bonus points when a lounge is closed for the weekend recently. They claim it is because it is scheduled to be closed and they shouldn’t have to reward it. Any Info on this anymore?

  16. I think there are a couple slight nuances in your valuations that leads you to overvalue your points. I believe that your $1350 figure reflects how much value you would receive 90k points at current redemption rates when redeeming in the near future. However, points sit around in your balance of Hyatt points stagnant at the risk of possible and unpredictable devaluations in the future. OTOH money grows when you put in in the bank, stocks, mutual funds and is also a lot more valuable currency than points when you are in an emergency or actually need to acquire a product, service, good than points. Keep in mind also that money –> points but points –> x money. Given that you don’t have specific redemption for the 90k points, I think $1100 is a fairer valuation of the 90k points you would receive from maximizing the promotion.

  17. Thank you for reminiscing about the good ol’ days of Faster free Nights. Initially you could even get stay credit for a free stay if you had any spend on that free stay. Even a candy bar from the mini bar would work!!!! Oh well.

    As to Vegas mattress run – I have done the Excalibur/ Luxor pair. EASY, just cross the street every morning.

  18. I mattress ran two years back for Hyatt Diamond, and did the same the beginning of this year. I spent about $2100 two years ago and got about $8500 in value from upgrades and amenities.
    This year I spent a little more (given that there was no promotion through March, when I did the run, so the points I spent I didn’t earn back as swiftly)— but it’s already shaping up to be worthwhile. Stays at HR SFO Airport, PH Abu Dhabi, PH Dubai, PH Maldives, HR SFO Embarcadero. Had DSU applied to PH Abu Dhabi and PH Dubai. In all instances except for PH Abu Dhabi I was given an upgrade beyond what I had booked. At PH Dubai, it was a Park Executive suite. At the HR SFO Embarcadero, I was greeted with “as you can see, we’re pretty busy, so we’re putting you in our best suite”. Value still to be had.

  19. Over a decade ago, with a international hotel chain to remain unnamed, I called up a property in Florida that had cheap rooms for sale….say $50/night. I spoke with the revenue manager directly and negotiated to pre-pay for the week at $40/night….except I would stay in my apartment elsewhere and she would bill my credit card and credit my frequent stayer account. It worked out fine and I retained my top status for another year.

  20. I’ve done a few mattress runs with Marriott to maintain status / polish off bonuses, but it’s certainly nothing like what it used to be.

    Ben also left out the credit card points you’d earn in the process. If you’re getting ~3x points at hotels on a credit card or can manage more via hotel-branded card (ie: Marriott’s 5x points for Marriott properties or gift cards, now you’re starting to talk.

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