One Change I’d Like To See 5 Major Hotel Loyalty Programs Make

Everyone has their own reasons for why they have a preferred loyalty program. Even though we may love our preferred programs, chances are there are still things we’d like to see them change. There are practical things we’d like to see them change (things that allow them to catch-up with the competition), and then also more aspirational changes (like unlimited presidential suite upgrades and spa treatments).

With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to look at five of the most popular loyalty programs, and changes they should make to catch up with the competition. This list isn’t intended to be about the greatest changes I’d like to see them make, but rather about fairly minor yet substantial changes they could make to catch up with the competition. In other words, what’s one area where the major hotel loyalty programs are lagging?

In no particular order:

Hilton: guarantee late check-out

Hyatt, Marriott, and Starwood offered guaranteed late check-out for Gold and Platinum elite members. It’s time that Hilton matches, at least for their Diamond members.

Conrad-Koh-Samui

Marriott: offer a more consistent breakfast benefit

Perhaps my biggest frustration with Marriott is how elite benefits vary significantly by brand and property. As a policy, Marriott Gold and Platinum members only receive breakfast at JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, Delta Hotels, and Marriott hotels. Marriott has almost 20 brands, so at the rest of the brands (like Ritz-Carlton and Edition), Gold and Platinum members don’t receive a breakfast benefit.

On top of that, even at the above five brands, Gold and Platinum members don’t receive complimentary breakfast at resorts. It’s time that changes.

Ritz-Carlton-Marina-Del-Rey - 52

IHG: provide elite benefits on award stays

IHG is the only major loyalty program to have a policy of not providing elite benefits on award stays. For the most part members are earning points towards free nights through their stays, so it’s sort of ridiculous that they’re not treated the same when they redeem their hard earned points.

Admittedly this isn’t a huge deal since IHG doesn’t offer much in the way of elite benefits to begin with, which is why it’s even more infuriating that they don’t honor those benefits on award stays.

A much more substantial addition of elite benefits would be complimentary breakfast, though I’m guessing that would be more of a stretch.

Crowne-Plaza-Doha-10

Starwood: include all hotels in promotions

Starwood is far from perfect, but on paper it’s tough to pinpoint one area where they really lag behind the competition when it comes to elite benefits — they offer unlimited suite upgrades, guaranteed late check-out, complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, honor all benefits on award stays, etc. The execution of those benefits often isn’t perfect (ie, when you have to argue with a hotel about a suite upgrade, or when your complimentary breakfast is simply a pastry basket).

I suppose the one big area where they lag behind the competition is with one aspect of their promotions. Specifically, Starwood consistently has hotels that are non-participating for the purpose of promotions. This used to be common among hotel loyalty programs in the past, though other chains are getting better about this. Hilton used to also have non-participating hotels in their promotions, but changed that in the past couple of years.

It’s time Starwood joins the bandwagon.

SPG-More-For-You-2

Hyatt: provide elite credits for award nights

Hyatt is one of the only major hotel loyalty programs that doesn’t award elite stay & night credits for award nights. They do for paid stays and even Points + Cash stays, but for whatever reason exclude award nights. While I know it’s something they’re looking into, it’s not a benefit they’ve even announced with the introduction of World of Hyatt.

Bottom line

The intent of this post wasn’t to make a comprehensive list of all the changes I dream of seeing from hotel loyalty programs. Instead I figured it would be fun to look at one area where each of the major hotel chains is lagging behind the competition, and could improve benefits without too much effort. For several of the above loyalty programs I could think of several more points, though to keep things simple stuck to just the above.

I’m curious how you guys feel on the above. What one elite change would you most like to see from your favorite hotel loyalty program?

Comments

  1. @anon it’s not perfect but SPG75 can book a refundable rate, use your24, and then cancel it if it doesn’t clear…

  2. Marriott is the one that most needs to change.

    I’d think that they’d want to compete with Hilton by offering guaranteed breakfast to Golds and Platinums.

  3. @ William — Unfortunately even Hilton doesn’t offer breakfast at all properties, like Waldorf Astorias. 🙁

  4. I haven’t used an award night for a while with Marriott, but I don’t think they give a night credit for award redemption nights either, I am aware that SPG does.

  5. Marriott and IHG need to step it up.

    No free breakfast for 75 night plats at so many Marriotts is so, so frustrating.
    And I thought number 3 might simply be “IHG: provide elite benfits!”

  6. Marriott’s breakfast benefit is simply ridiculous.
    They really need to streamline the breakfast benefit.

  7. SPG and Hyatt needs to start offering free breakfast for mid tier members. Both Hilton and Marriott (as limited as it is) both do.

  8. The SPG, 10 nights suite upgrades for 50 nights platinums are a joke. It is a very inconsistent benefit, one that create expectations that cannot be delivered. Also, there is no rule to this. I have been to hotels, with suites available, that even though I pre-requested them using the 10 nights, they were canceled 5 days before. When I got to the hotel, I was upgraded to the suite beause I was a platinum…i cannot understand whay they even exist.

  9. Agree entirely on Marriott breakfast. Been Platinum for nine years, never really see the benefit (consistently ignored room preferences, no breakfast, lack of upgrades)….

  10. if i may add, hyatt should allow multiple rooms to be counted toward qualified night tally.
    it would be so hard to achieve 60 nights with hyatt’s current footprint.

  11. @Anon – Fairmont guarantees early check in to Platinum President’s Club members, without definition of the terms. I’ve twice had this status, and it was not consistently granted. So – not really “guaranteed”. Once, a nice upgrade was given as compemsation.

  12. Thanks but NO, THANKS!

    The only reason a loyalty program would want to “guarantee” a perk, when it does not have to since it violate the guarantee any time with impunity, is simply to limit it. I am doing just fine without guaranteed perks, getting 6pm late checkouts when I would otherwise be denied and be told that late checkouts are guaranteed only to 4 pm. I’ve never wanted to have only 4 suite upgrades “guaranteed” all year, when I can clear 12 of 12 complimentary suite upgrades a year (i.e., 8 more than those that purportedly “guaranteed”.).

    In short, travel bloggers have to stop trying to set standards that they have convinced themselves matter, when in reality the exact opposite of what they believe matters is almost always better. Has anybody noticed that the two programs they kept raving about are kaput, and those they maligned are thriving?

    Well, Q.E.D!

    G’day!

  13. “Unfortunately even Hilton doesn’t offer breakfast at all properties, like Waldorf Astorias.”

    That statement requires “nuance” because it is strictly trued ONLY in the US or maybe the Wast.

    I have stayed at Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund twice — once even with a guest — and at the brand new Waldorf Astoria Beijing, and got free full breakfast each time that was nothing short of a royal feast.

    Last month, I was at the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria (the best or one of the best), and got a double upgrade to a corner suite, with full Imperial Floor privileges, including free full breakfast.

    Just sayin’ 😉

  14. I’m Diamond (soon to be Globalist – can’t wait for reception to have to say that at the welcome) with Hyatt and Platinum Premier (top 3%) with Marriott. I’m very happy with Hyatt and after about a dozen years of Diamond I am convinced that it has the most rewards bang for the buck for the highest elite level. I’m guardedly optimistic about the upcoming changes.

    I’m also satisfied with Marriott with the following exceptions: 1. Considering that Premier level is achieved only by a few very frequent stayers, there are almost no benefits and rarely even recognition at check-in. 2. Resorts are the bane of the business traveler. Resort fee (often $35 but I have experienced $70 per day). This for beach umbrellas, pool towels, and other things that I don’t use. And then – no breakfast. No complimentary breakfast at resorts – why – why – why.

  15. @Lucky – the no breakfast at Waldorf Astoria is not program wide as many Waldorfs proactively offer free breakfast along with a bunch of other benefits (i.e. $10-12 towards free drink at Peacock Alley, discounts for on-site restaurants, etc).

    The Waldorf in Shanghai and Beijing both offer free breakfast to Golds and Diamonds and that benefit is published (not by Hilton, but the property itself). Their breakfast is very good, not the most extravagant like the Conrad Bali or JW Phuket but the quality is very high.

    I notice you don’t stay in many Hilton high end properties, maybe its time to check a few Waldorfs out? 😉

  16. BTW – I’ll venture to say this that WA is a step above Ritz, especially when it comes to service and quality of in room amenities. Ritz has many gorgeous properties, but I don’t feel the service is as personal as the service at the WA.

  17. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah in May and got free breakfast as well as free drinks each night, so it definitely gives Diamond benefits.

  18. IHG provides Elite benefits? Ha. I am Spire and the only thing I’ve ever gotten is bonus welcome points, and only after I contact IHG customer service when they don’t post as promised. The last IHG room I stayed in didn’t have a shower door (or curtain), someone had stolen the clock, and the desk chair was gone.

  19. You’re complaints mirror mine perfectly. If the choice is a Marriott Resort with no breakfast or something else, we always choose the something else. Likewise I will avoid a Hilton or IHG if I need a late checkout as I often have to beg to even get one extra hour. I’m very sad about everything Hyatt is doing away with and their new requirements, but unless I’m somewhere without a Hyatt, that’s still going to be my first choice. Cannot beat a 4 pm checkout and a free breakfast.

  20. Wait, hotels (sans Hyatt) give elite qualifying nights for award stays? Wouldn’t that be like airlines awarding elite qualifying miles for award tickets? As far as I know no airline does that.

  21. Bloggers go by their own dogma, even if clueless about the claims they make. Several commenters reporting that W=A does offer free breakfast, something I have said since Day One, is not going to change the meme. Travel gurus seemed to be shocked that HH members can earn promo points on pure award stays, when the fact that HHonors makes no distinction between award and paid stays with respect to pretty much every aspect of the program has been thus for years and years.

    No, Siree, self-anointed travel gurus will stick to their bogus claims even if blinded by the light of revelation. They won’t change. Not.today. Not.ever.

  22. I’ve actually found the IHG properties in Japan were really friendly and nice. I had a last minute unscheduled booking in Fukuoka this past year at the Crowne Plaza and they upgraded my room to a suite and gave both me and my husband free breakfast which really helped us to calm down after running around all night (our flight from Yakushima to Osaka got cancelled so we had to use a combination of local trains to head up north on the last available route). Crowne Plaza Osaka was similarly nice, upgrading us and including free breakfast.

  23. Hey @Steven, I have a full day job, but you can find my original posts on travel discussion boards.

    Here’s a sample: https://goo.gl/VYdp7A

    Read it and I am 100% sure that you will can it once for all.

    G’day!

  24. “As usual, DCS is alone on No Guarantee Island. Funny how no one ever, ever joins him. Why is that?”

    Simple. Because the “argumentum ad populum” is utterly stupid. More than 90% of the German people agreed with the Fuhrer, so, therefore, whatever he was peddling was right on. Sheesh! Don’t you realize where you are and who frequents this site? It’s a herd mentality. When the leader goes off the cliff, his followers do as well!

  25. I would like to see additional perks for those who have achieved Platinum Elite for life with the threshold being increased from 1,000,00 points earned and 1,000 nights stayed. Many of us have over 8,000,000 points earned and over 2,000 nights stayed and not being fairly recognized. Free breakfast, no resort fees, no parking fees, to name a few. Points are being devalued every year. Obviously love the program but the most devoted could be taken better care of.

  26. I agree with your main themes, plus formalizing a W=A lounge or breakfast benefit. I’d also like to see HH and SPG make it full breakfast when it’s in the restaurant, vs. some properties that want a big upcharge or give you a skimpy credit or a bag to go (NYC).

  27. Rather than wishing how things could be, how about enjoying things as they now are? Specifically, I am referring to the fact that the rumored extension of HHonors’ Q4 2x/3x promo from December 31, 2016 to January 31, 2017 just went live! (link in next post).

    Also in the same email that informed me bout the extension of the promo, HHonors just announced a really cool new feature that I already noticed earlier this week in my account:

    “TRACK MY OFFERS
    Now you can keep track of the offers you’re registered for AND the offers you SHOULD be taking advantage of – all in one place.”

    HHonors is making so many offers that things got hard to keep track of, so they just added a really feature that shows members what promos they registered for, how many points they have earned to date and how much longer (in days) a promo has left before it expires.

    It shows that I am currently registered for the Q4 2x/3x and the 5000 points visa promos and that I have earned for:

    2x: 47,435 (21 days left — after the extension)
    3x: 31,793 (21 days left)
    Visa: 0.0 (52 days left)

    i.e., I’ve already earned ~79K HH points from the Q4 2x/3x promo and counting!

    Like I said, there is already plenty to enjoy in what’s available out there right now from the one program that’s now the most vibrant and remains highly rewarding!

  28. @DCS have you been diagnosed with anything? I just don’t even understand the mission you are on. You’ve preached your gospel and no one is buying it. What benefits accrue to you if people come around to your way of thinking? Think about what would happen if everybody suddenly bought your logic. Let’s suppose for example that every Hilton Diamond stood her ground on the concept of suite upgrades like you do. How many upgrades would they have left to give?

  29. I’m genuinely curious what the whole hullabaloo about guaranteed late check-out at Hilton is about? I’ve never in hundreds of stays at Hilton properties been denied a late checkout. I’ve even been offered 7pm on occasion when I asked for 4pm. Are there people actually being denied late check-outs at Hilton properties?

    It’s the same thing with Hilton upgrades. I almost always get upgraded to a higher category of room if it exists (only one stay in the last few years that I wasn’t – at the new Hilton Edinburgh Carlton) and often this includes fabulous suites (base room to Tower Suite at the Waldorf Ras Al Khaimah for example).

    I really don’t care if something is “guaranteed” or not if I always get it anyway.

  30. If you can afford 75 night a year in Marriott and you cannot afford breakfast for 15-20 USD, that’s quite sad
    How greedy are u? Anybody else needs to have his balls licked by hotel to fall asleep?

  31. @Stvr — I study brain illnesses with advanced imaging methods that are used to understand and diagnosed such illnesses. So, I can assure you that I have no brain disorder. That you think I have one because I am challenging dogma, which I have stated here ad nauseam is my purpose here, just raises the question whether or not your own brain has no loose screws.

    Other than the ad hominen, do you actually have anything substantive to say about the content of my comments to establish what it is exactly that no one is “buying”, which, BTW, is absolutely wrong. Things are palpably different around these boards. The bogus claims, at least those that are still being made, have dwindled down to only hand full of truly resilient ones. When I am done, there will be none. Just you wait and watch.

    With respect to your hypothetical on suite upgrades, the system I am in is already as is it and it works just fine for a simple reason that you would realize if you did not think that people who frequent travel blogs make up the majority of HHonors membership. Au contraire, it just a very small faction. Therefore, the premise of your scenario is fatally flawed as the game would still favor the few who know how to play it and play it with a “full deck.” You ought to try the latter some time.

  32. @Sean M said: “I really don’t care if something is “guaranteed” or not if I always get it anyway.”

    Spoken like one who knows how to manage his expectations and is playing the game very well, and avoided the hype and made up and bogus standards being peddle here and elsewhere that have others going after “pipe dreams”.

    BTW, you just burst at least a couple of bubbles, especially this one that’s based on a tired argumentun ad populum, a well-known fallacious argument: “As usual, DCS is alone on No Guarantee Island. Funny how no one ever, ever joins him. Why is that?””

    I welcome you in the “lion’s den”!

  33. I like my Accor Le Club Platinum benefits. In Asia and the GCC are always room upgraded and granted Club access for afternoon high tea, evening drinks and breakfast in the lounge or restaurant. Also, have always been granted late check out times too. Not so sure about North American properties, though I find the services on offer in North America to be overpriced and underwhelming across the board.

  34. I agree with @Sean M. I don’t travel nearly as much as some of you do but I have been a Hilton Gold for a few years now. I would say at least in my experiences: I have rarely been denied a 4 p.m. check out at Hilton properties even as a Gold member & I have also been upgraded to suites more often than I had hoped for. Overall, I’d think Hilton has treated me quite well over the years… It is a really great program if you want a large hotels footprint but doesn’t stay quite as many nights a year

  35. @DCS – It’s not as though people don’t agree with you about Hilton, just that most of us really don’t care to piss into the wind and argue on the interwebs with folks that have staked a strong position in opposition. If Ben and his friends don’t find a decent value proposition in HHonors, they are entitled to their own opinions and I have better things to do than waste my time trying to convince them otherwise.

  36. Also, just a general comment here, I value simplicity above most other benefits. I’ve played the game/hobby for close to 20 years so it isn’t that I struggle to learn the minutae of the programs if I really needed to. The Hilton benefits are pretty straightforward – I will be upgraded, I will get breakfast, I will get free internet and I will get late checkout if I want it. I value that more than knowing that if a Club Lounge is closed on the third Tuesday in June at a resort, then I can get 1000 bonus points by ordering lasagna for breakfast via the online room service app. My head hurts just reading the benefits of some of these programs nowadays and this post highlights why I’m happy with my choice anyway.

    My only gripe with Hilton is the lack of points for incidentals on “non-eligible stays”. It is annoying to lose out on a $500 dinner charge to the room because my corporate discount is ineligible for points accrual.

  37. @SeanM – you seem like a very rational person from this and your previous posts. Of course, your fellow Hilton loyalist DCS simply isn’t…he rants and raves all things Hilton over and over again, eternally frustrated that more folks don’t similarly praise Hilton. Why? It’s a big, mediocre hotel chain and program that may work for you and others, but just isn’t that interesting/rewarding to many of us (~50 luxury hotels out of 5,000 globally, mediocre top-level benefits, perfectly good status benefits achieved from a $95 credit card that makes doing 40 nights pointless). If it was a better program, it would be talked about more…period.

    So it’s him against the world, to the point he makes up “facts” (like the concept of guarantees being some hard ceiling never to be surpassed, even those of us who have had hundreds of nights over the years recognize them rightly for what they are, a great floor on benefits that allow properties to go above and beyond, as they often do).

  38. @Sean M — Call me a “rebel with a cause”, which I have made into my pet project to largely get my rocks off. It is actually fun, but at the same time, I hope to be contributing by providing a different perspective so that those who are open-minded can benefits. On several occasions, because I am thoroughly familiar with the HH program (whereas bloggers simply disparage the program without knowing much about it), I have corrected misconceptions that have benefited commenters, like the fact that one almost always earns promo points on PURE award stays. Incredibly, bloggers were not aware of it, even thought that’s been the case for as long as I can remember and I’d stated it multiple times as one of the major strengths of HH.

    As for HH perks, one that’s overlooked and under-appreciated by both Hilton loyalists and travel bloggers but is absolutely powerful for Diamonds who attend HUGE conferences that fill most hotels in the vicinity of the conference venue, is so-called “Diamond Force.” It is uniquely powerful among top elite perks of any program, and one of few truly “:guaranteed” perks — if we must go there — because it is fully automated in the booking search engine and out of the hands of individual hotels. I just pops up whenever a Diamond needs it to save the day by “forcing” (hence Diamond “Force”) the availability of a standard award or revenue room at oversold properties.

    Lastly, there are too many benefits these days to booking through Hilton’s website or app (like members-only rates) for me to consider booking using corporate, tour or group rates, or through third-party or “opaque” channels, which would result in the ONLY stays that earn no points. I once booked such a stay eons ago, earned no points and never repeated it. Hilton is running a business and I do not fault them for wanting to keep “poachers” from affecting their bottom line. Lastly, it is not only Hilton that does not award points for such “ineligible” stays. At least they and other chains are completely transparent about it up front, so book ineligible stays at your own peril!

    See ya ’round campus, mate!

  39. Truly pathetic? Now that there is someone (but there others as well) who agrees with what I have been saying, he is trying to make a b.s. distinction.

    Presciently, I’d informed @Sean M that he’d burst at least a couple of bubbles by not seeing the big deal about “guaranteed” perks! He was absolutely right and even repeated what I’d said before: Hello! Why worry about something if one always gets it, anyway?

    Those peddling the value of so-called “guaranteed” perks are likely traumatized because perks in their programs are so tightly limited by the “guarantees” that they cannot fathom a policy that “liberalizes” the same perks! Most, including bloggers, actually know little about the HH program first-hand and pontificate without having ever experienced what they malign.

    Also, notice that after making it tough to earn their top “Globalist” elite level, HGP/WOH! suddenly “liberalized” complimentary suite upgrades, in a clear admission — and contra the dogma — that the 4 DSUs they awarded were limited. At the same time, it is an admission that unlimited suite upgrades are more valuable, because, while they depend on AVAILABILITY, just as do DSUs, there are more opportunities to get upgraded when upgrades are unlimited, especially for a chain with a large footprint and, hence, less competition among elites. Under WOH!, the solution to limiting competition is to make the top elite status reachable only by the lucky few!

    It’s why I am having fun raising the volume on the “cognitive dissonance” that these folks must be experiencing. Everything they believed (HGP [days numbered] is great, SPG [r.i.p] is tops) is suddenly on shaky grounds! 😉

    G’day!

  40. I agree with Lucky’s initial assessment. Unfortunately, I have to confirm that late check-out is an issue with Hilton – I’m saying this as someone who’s been Diamond for about 10 years, always qualifying on stays, nights and points … but I rarely get any later than 2pm …

  41. @Andy – wait, are you saying that you don’t benefit from the Hilton “no guarantees but unlimited opportunity!” mantra?!?!

    Sorry man…from what one poster says, I figure you could just check out hours or even days later after your 12pm specified time and it was all good.

  42. @Andy — If late checkout is important to you and you have not been approved for one that was later than 2pm in a DECADE and you still stuck with the program then it must not have been that important to you after all since you stuck with the program regardless; or you have no clue how to make the most of your status or even how to play the game (like instead of making a timely request, waiting until checkout day to do it); or, worse, you are just lying about having been a HH Diamond for 10 years simply to score cheap points — like me claiming to be a Hyatt Diamond for 10 years who failed to clear a single DSUs during all that time…

    Why did you take it for so long if it mattered to you when you cloud just have changed programs?

  43. To Marriott Representative:
    (I assume and hope you are not really a Marriott representative)

    1. Since these comments are in response to the question: What would you like to change?, it is surprising to hear such vitriol to a suggestion.

    2. Breakfast at a Marriott resort for $15-$20? Sure – one could do that – if it’s still 1957.

    3. As to the licking of my balls – thanks for the most kind offer – but I will pass for now.

  44. @ Sean M

    I’m surprised by your posts in this thread 😛

    The problem isn’t that people get denied late checkouts at Hiltons (though I’m sure that is a very small part of it), the problem is the checkouts are too frequently 1/2 pm, sometimes 3 pm. 4 and 6 pm are really only possible if something else is in your favour (Middle Eastern summer, repeat guest status, friendliness with FO management).

    With Hyatt, SPG and Marriott it is 4 pm minimum without gotchas (well one gotcha: it shouldn’t be a resort , but in the Middle East, they honour it too). 5 pm is very common with SPG, I’d say about as common as the most common Hilton late check-out (2 pm).

    You can’t deconstruct a late checkout discussion into a binary yes vs no because its the exact specifics where the differences lie.

    Same goes for upgrades. People say “I dint get a suite upgrade at Sheraton” and a Hilton person could say “I always get upgraded” and this might seem like Hilton is better but actually the Sheraton non-suite 4 category upgrade could be better than the Hilton 1 category upgrade. Hilton upgrades are usually always a category (again, you need a special request or an externality like low occupancy or repeat status to get more) whereas Hyatt upgrades are to best available room and Starwood upgrades are to standard suites (middle eastern hotels are good with this).

    Waldorf RAK is a known outlier regarding upgrades, especially during weekdays (Even in winter), however, they do not offer free breakfast so you win some, you lose some….Waldorf Palm provides free breakfast but strict 1 category upgrades (try to negotiate a suite upgrade here from base room, won’t happen).

    I get breakfast, suite upgrades and late check outs *consistently* with HHonors, and even then I find it (much) weaker than SPG and Marriott.

    The subsequent posts confused me even more. Hilton is the one with the random regulations. Starwood is the most straightforward.

    With Starwood you get breakfast (all hotels), upgrade (the best of its kind in industry) and late check out (unless resort, still best of its kind in industry)

    With Hilton, you can’t be sure of breakfast (Waldorf), can’t be sure of upgrade (try getting *any* upgrade at Garden Inn Mall of Emirates, they don’t upgrade and they don’t have to, program doesn’t require Garden Inns to upgrade), can’t be sure of *meaningful* late check out.

  45. @Vineet sez: “With Hilton, you can’t be sure of breakfast (Waldorf), can’t be sure of upgrade (try getting *any* upgrade at Garden Inn Mall of Emirates, they don’t upgrade and they don’t have to, program doesn’t require Garden Inns to upgrade), can’t be sure of *meaningful* late check out.”

    You are late the “debate”. The train on which travel bloggers made up and peddled the very claims that you just made has already left the station. For example: HHonors suite upgrades policy is IDENTICAL to SPG, despite made up claims to the contrary. Really. In any case, in the REAL new world, SPG is kaput, despite being the “stronger” program, unless you worship at the alter of “Reverse Darwinism” were it is “survival of the weakest”! Hyatt GP — the darling of the bloggers — is on life support, with its days numbered before it is completely disfigured to become unrecognizable and transform into what its acronym sounds like — WOH!

    The King of the Hotel Loyalty Hill at the moment is HHonors, the most vibrant and rewarding program over the last couple of years, with promos so lucrative (“Everyday. Every Hotel. Everywhere”), they even got this concession out of the “Thought Leader in Travel”, who is no HHonors fanboy by any stretch of the imagination so it must have been excruciatingly painful for him to actually write it:

    “There’s no question that Hilton has been really strong, arguably the most lucrative of the major chains, earning points through stays over the last several months.”

    …the last 24 to 36 months, to be more precise…

    Bottom line: @Sean M got it right because he KNOWS HHonors and can manage his expectations realistically. Starwood loyalists drank too much of the bloggers’ kool-aid that made them think the program was better than it was in reality until it simply collapsed. You are still on that train and it’s already left the station. 😉

    G’day!

  46. BTW @Vineet, like I said, you were literally late to the debate. In this very comments section, several posters have challenged yet another claim that you made, “you can’t be sure of breakfast (Waldorf)”, which’d prompted me to comment up-thread

    “Several commenters reporting that W=A does offer free breakfast, something I have said since Day One, is not going to change the meme.”

    In fact, HH elites are NOT supposed to get free breakfast at W=As, except that many WAs tore off that part of the HH T&C and put it in the trash can, where it belongs and offer breakfast. Those that offer it, always do so, and tells. Those that do not offer it, mostly in the US, won’t do it. Period. So there is no guess work.

  47. Once again, DCS can’t help but insult other posters he disagrees with, like a little child with small hands…even when the poster actually is an HH person who recognizes the program weakness compared to other programs.

    I imagine he keeps any thread w/Hilton in it on an active browser, constantly refreshing so he can post his bile over and over and over again.

  48. Can you just please go away, oh, dear ‘Village Idiot”, who speaks of insults when just a few hours ago he wrote the following in another thread on this very site: “It’s amusing that DCS can’t help but being an a$$hole in pretty much every single post he makes.”

    Now, shown me the insult in the above. On the other hand, I insult you because you started it and I can give it just as good. Worse, you disclosed my real name in this forum and over @ VFTW until @Gary made it clear it was beyond the pale. Posters over at FT or MilePoint or even some in these blogs know my identity but have never gone “there” because they know that it is absolutely verboten by the ethics of the medium. And yet you did it repeatedly, as if to let me know that you discovered who I am, when anyone interested could find out.

    You are unhinged and should be banned, and that is not something I have ever said about anyone.

    Just.go.away!

  49. Waldorf Astoria doesn’t offer breakfast as a stated benefit, some hotels going above and beyond doesn’t change the status quo. ALL SPG Dubai Marina hotels will offer Club guests 2 way airport transfers, should we include that as a benefit?

    End of story

    The suite upgrade policy differences are plain for all to see. I get suites about half the time with Hilton (sometimes by having to book the room immediately below the suite category), I get suites pretty much 99% of the time with SPG.(always from base category). If you can manage a suite upgrade from a base room booking at the Waldorf Astoria Palm for instance, then I’m interested.

  50. @Vineet — Like I said, that train left the station already.First, I gave you the reality on W=A and free breakfast. There is not much else to say about it. It’s verboten perk that many properties chose you provide on their own (have you had breakfast at Marriott Resorts or at a Coutyard lately?

    As for the claims about suite upgrade policy differences, please go to the comment at the following link on this very site but another thread:

    https://goo.gl/gRxdaC

    and take the challenge that will show you, ONCE AND FOR ALL, that there are no plain differences in suite upgrade policies to see because NONE EXIST! What you will find is a grade school-level English comprehension challenge that self-anointed ‘travel gurus’ and their followers have flunked for years, and it seems like you might have flunked too. Here’s a chance to redeem yourself! Go to the link and take the challenge!

    For a glimpse of the correct answer to the challenge — call it a “cheat sheet” — you might wish to start by reading the comment at the following link higher up in the same thread:

    https://goo.gl/C6VSF5

    Then after you take challenge and pass, move even higher up to read the comment at following link in the same thread and it will, at long last, make perfect sense to you:

    https://goo.gl/oOJ5ig

    I will be waiting here to welcome you in the brave new world with no bogus claims about SPG [r.i.p]., and it will all finally make sense to you because the blinders would be gone.

    G’day!

  51. @Vineet It looks like you’ve been introduced to @DCS, who is the resident one-man crusade against anything not Hilton HHonors I could tell he was going to insult you, even though you were giving your personal experience, when he started his reply with “@Vineet sez”, a rather uncouth way to refer to someone’s comment. Of course, we all know ad hominem is what one resorts to if their arguments cannot stand on their own.

    Anyway, what @DCS can’t seem to understand (and what @UA-NYC and many others frequently try to explain) is that:

    Different people value things differently. I will readily admit, Hilton HHonors has value. The breakfast benefit for Gold level is generous, and I believe Hilton was the first to provide complimentary high speed internet to members.

    In the case of room upgrades, however, I prefer SPG’s benefit. Because I (and many others) prefer a benefit that tells us what our minimum guaranteed expectation should be. SPG’s benefit states that if a standard suite is available at check-in, platinums are entitled to that suite. There is recourse from corporate if this benefit is not provided. Unfortunately, in practice, it doesn’t stop all edge cases of shenanigans (like games with inventory, blocking, classification of what’s a standard suite, etc). But, in the vast majority of cases, members don’t need to fight for an upgrade. For Hilton, you aren’t guaranteed anything. Everything is at the discretion of the hotel, including the type of upgrade. A higher floor may be enough to satisfy the upgrade benefit. And then, only on a “space available” basis. In practice, maybe Diamonds will get a decent upgrade or even suite upgrades a good percentage of the time. But there no recourse and you may need to ask again/beg/plead to achieve that percentage. Fine, that works for some people. Others don’t want to bother with that. Is that ok with you, @DCS?

    @DCS, as a complete hypothetical, you may value your time greatly, and therefore take a car to the airport, spending $50. Others may instead value other things and decide to take public transport for $3. Do they get to say public transport is superior because of X, Y, Z and therefore you are clearly an idiot for choosing a different value-proposition? Please stop. People who agree with you don’t seem to support the way you communicate. Because I’ve pretty much never seen anyone get your back. @Sean M provided some of his thoughts that coincide with yours, but still needed to comment that he doesn’t support your strange fervor. New posters who provide a civil response get vitriol from you.

    @DCS, I don’t mind your posts about your frequent trips to SE Asia, or flying United, because they are civil. But for some reason Hilton makes you lose your mind, and you end up turning people off from your viewpoint with your attacking style.

  52. @V — You are wrong on ll counts. Au contraire, rather than trying to impose my view, providing another perspective by preaching the sermon of “YMMV” has been and continues to be the WHOLE POINT of my “rebellion”. I got sick of reading again and again and again about how anything HHonors was “weak” while anything Hyatt or SPG was “best in business”, which was, OF COURSE, total BULLSHIT, AS EVENTS OVER THE LAST YEAR HAVE MADE AS PLAIN AS POSSIBLE: SPG is no more and HGP is on life support, while “there’s no question that Hilton has been really strong, arguably the most lucrative of the major chains…” — [@Gary Leff aka “Thought Leader in Travel”].

    And, @Vineet or @V or @anyone, instead of another long and wrong conjectural post about what’s driving me, would you just take the grade school-level English comprehension challenge that self-anointed ‘travel gurus’ and their followers, including you, have flunked for years?

    Gracias y adios!

  53. @DCS

    Yes I have received breakfast at Marriott-family resorts and Courtyard (Bangkok), now eat crow?
    I have been to multiple Waldorf’s without breakfast. Where does that leave your argument? In tatters

    I (and countless others) have seen the Hilton and SPG suite upgrade policy and the difference is clear. More importantly, I have seen the difference in implementation and also asked for clarification from VP level employees of both programs.

    Hilton *may* *may* offer you suites. If they do so, it is at hotel’s *discretion*. You cannot demand one even if its available. The hotel can turn you down and not be in violation of program terms. Their T&C clearly reflect this.

    “Upgrades may also be rooms with desirable views, corner rooms, rooms on high floors, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites, *as identified by each property*. Upgrades exclude executive suites, villas and specialty accommodations (which may include, but not limited to, “Vista” and “Villa” accommodation types), *subject to the discretion of the hotel*. Group reservations and certain rates are not eligible for suite accommodations and may not be eligible for complimentary upgrades. All upgrades are granted on a space-available basis for the entire stay, as determined at the time of check-in. *Preferred rooms are identified by each individual property and may vary within each brand.*”

    I have highlighted the clauses in ‘*’, on three separate occasions they make clear that the property solely will decide what is to be given. Property will decide what is a preferred room, not the guest, not you.

    SPG has no such clauses, they say the upgrade is to the best available rooms including standard suites. So the upgrade isn’t to *SOME* undefined room category, it is to *the best* room available, a pool which includes standard suites.

    I have asked the senior management straight up, what happens when a top tier guest books a base room, check in and a base suite 5 categories up is available and ready.

    SPG answer: You get upgraded to the suite.
    Hilton: Quote their T&C with vague answer including next best available category. When pressed on whether a suite upgrade will be offered, confirmed it is at the discretion of property.

    Late checkout, same difference. SPG confirms it, Marriott confirms it, Hyatt confirms it. Hilton HHonors Corporate did not confirm it.

    Oh and FYI, the VP for Hyatt Loyalty (SWA, ME and Europe) also confirmed DSUs are not capacity controlled. Of course, none of this is news to anyone, except you

  54. @V

    Actually its not that he values things differently. He is dead wrong about the very things he’s talking about. He has been trying to misrepresent everyone’s policies for years now. Flat out lying about SPG/Hyatt/Marriott policies which have been clarified 100s of times.

    How is a vague late checkout policy which most frequently results in a 2 pm checkout equal to Hyatt/Marriott/SPG confirmed 4 pm checkout (and sometimes more in the same way Hilton sometimes grants more than 2/3 pm)

    How is a vague upgrade policy that possibly can grant you suites better than a directive to always provide a suite if one is available? There are 100s of documented cases on FlyerTalk with Hiltons that have an official policy of a strict 1 category upgrade. There is NO SPG hotel in the world that has such a strict policy (Aloft and Element are not subject to the upgrade policy in the T&C however Aloft still generally upgrades. No data on Element)

    How come Waldorfs are now regarded as having a breakfast benefit when the majority don’t?

    There is some amazing misinformation being spewed here.

  55. @Vineet — I will just respond by reproducing in the next comment, an erudite commentary I just posted over at VFTW on the same topic that should settle this brouhaha once and for all. It contains links so it will be moderated before it appears, but keep refreshing your browser and it will ultimately show because one thing about this blog and VFTW is that they do not censor comments even if they directly challenge the host’s views. I left very little wiggle room for continued misinterpretation of the SPG suite upgrade policy by providing stark evidence of the consequences of the misinterpretation.

    With that, I am done here as I must begin preparing to leave in a couple of days on my month-long 2016 Year-end Asian Escapade(tm).

    G’day!

  56. THIS WAS THE CHALLENGE:
    Can the smart ones out there tell us how the following complimentary suite upgrade policies are different?

    SPG policy on complimentary upgrades:
    Platinum members receive upgrades to the best available rooms, including Standard Suites, subject to availability for the entire length of stay at time of check-in.

    HHonors policy on complimentary suite upgrades:
    Diamond HHonors guests will receive upgrades to preferred rooms, including Standard Suites, based on availability at the time of check-in. [Marriott Rewards’ policy is similar]

    World of Hyatt policy on complimentary suite upgrades:
    Globalists will receive the best room available at the time of check-in at Hyatt hotels and resorts, including standard suites and rooms with Club lounge-access.
    ___________________

    Because, except for the wrong answers provided by a flailing and desperate “village idiot”, no one seems willing to take the challenge, I will give the simple correct answer and then elaborate.

    It was not a trick question and under any other circumstances anyone would have provided the correct answer, which is that THOSE COMPLIMENTARY SUITE UPGRADE POLICIES ARE IDENTICAL.

    The way to get around the usual noise, like that made by the only commenter clueless enough to take challenge, was to reduce the policy statements to their minimum so that they are directly comparable. What threw EVERYONE off about the SPG policy was that, on purpose or inadvertently, it did not spell out explicitly what “best available rooms” meant, whereas HHonors and Marriott Rewards — the more mature and stable programs — did spell out what they meant by “preferred rooms” or the types of rooms that would be considered an upgrade, up to standard suites. Bloggers latched onto SPG policy’s lack of clarity and re-interpreted it as “entitling” or “guarantying” Plats a suite upgrade if available, oblivious to the fact that hotels had the final say on what was a suite and whether or not it was available as an upgrade.

    The best way to know whether or not a loyalty policy is being interpreted correctly is by the volume of complaints it generates from members claiming its “violation” by individual properties. Whereas, because of their clarity, you will find very, very few instances of HHonors or Marriott Rewards members complaining that a property failed to upgrade them to a suite when suites were clearly available, a quick search of the web reveals virtual “reams and reams” of complaints by SPG loyalists about properties that failed to upgrade platinum members to a suite. The straightforward explanation for why this has persisted is that SPG wanted it both ways: (a) leave the impression that their complimentary suite upgrade policy was a “differentiating” feature of the program, as touted by bloggers, knowing fully that the interpretation was erroneous; and (b) quietly enforce the correct interpretation in the background! The result has not been pretty, as self-entitled top SPG elites, many of them self-anointed ‘travel gurus’, took to the airwaves to denounce SPG’s duplicity…for correctly interpreting their own policy!

    Here are some of my very favorite examples of a policy misinterpretation going awry, likely because a program wanted to have their cake and eat it too:

    2014 — “Starwood Platinum Suite Upgrades: Why Does It Have To Be A Fight?”: https://goo.gl/SPwAfu

    2012 — “I am Sick of Arguing for Starwood Upgrades”: https://goo.gl/elT44P

    2013 — “Platinum SPG, best room upgrade: please change the language”: https://goo.gl/r80e8Q

    2015 — “Destroying Loyalty: Starwood’s Lies & Expectation Management”: https://goo.gl/IFTRNM

    Well, you get the picture, which did not include thousands of comments by travel gurus’ sycophants chiming in with their own stories about how such or such Starwood property violated “the policy.”

    Another policy that was simply made up by travel bloggers and was more egregious in its hubris because it was not even in the T&C, was that HGP suite upgrade awards are not “capacity controlled”, meaning that if a suite is bookable with cash, it is available for upgrade using a DSU. However, things did not work that way and, like the misinterpretation of the SPG upgrade policy; this resulted in reams of complaints accusing HGP of “violating” a policy they never even stated!

    Bottom line: The next time you read a blogpost claiming that SPG Platinum elites are “guaranteed” or “entitled to” suite upgrades if they are available, just remember this commentary [that’s what erudite comments are called in academia]. Like under every loyalty program, individual Starwood properties have always had the final say on deciding what’s “best room” or a “suite” and whether or not it was available as an elite upgrade, something that bloggers have usually conveniently left out in claiming the “guarantee” or “entitlement” [emphasis added]:

    “…[s]ubject to availability at check-in for the length of the stay, provided the room was not booked through a pre-paid third-party channel. Specialty Suites such as, but not limited to, premium view, Presidential, Honeymoon, and multiple bedroom suites are excluded. This benefit does not apply to all-suite hotels. BEST ROOMS ARE IDENTIFIED BY EACH PROPERTY and may not include upgraded Towers level accommodations unless Towers level accommodations are booked originally. The upgrade benefit is available for one room for the personal use of the Member only, regardless of the number of additional rooms purchased by the Member. This benefit is not offered at Aloft and Element properties.”

    This concludes the documentation of how for years and years self-anointed ‘travel gurus’ and their followers have flunked a simple, grade school-level English, comprehension test.

  57. BTW, the answer to this “How come Waldorfs are now regarded as having a breakfast benefit when the majority don’t?” is that I do not know about the “majority” and how many can actually afford stays at W=A hotels by I have been served free full breakfast every single time I have stayed at one: Twice at W=A Shanghai on the Bund, at W=A Beijing and, just last month, at the iconic Rome Cavalieri W=A.

    No “misinformation” there because I have documented some of the stays and will soon do a trip report on the Rome Cavalieri stay where I scored a double upgrade (documented here https://goo.gl/hZXuC4 and then go to the top of the thread on that same page for my 12 of 12 [100%] success rate in clearing complimentary suite upgrades as a HH Diamond in 2014).

    Bye bye!

  58. Oops! I provided the wrong link for a key complaint about the misinterpreted SPG elite suite upgrades policy, grabbing the link for another post that I had just read. Here’s the correct link:

    2014 — “Starwood Platinum Suite Upgrades: Why Does It Have To Be A Fight?”: https://goo.gl/WnzdzX

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