Embarking on a journey of luxury travel doesn’t necessarily mean having to spend extravagantly. The secret to indulging in the finer aspects of travel lies in the strategic use of hotel rewards programs. These programs offer more than just points; they open doors to a realm of exclusive benefits and avenues for substantial savings.

In this guide, we’ll explore the transformative impact that joining a hotel rewards program can have on your travel experiences.

Why You Should Join Hotel Loyalty Programs

ReasonWhy It Matters
Best Rate GuaranteeMembers have access to the lowest rates, exclusive to the program.
Exclusive DealsSpecial offers and discounts are available only to members.
Member RewardsEnjoy complimentary services like breakfast and room upgrades.
Point AccumulationEarn points for free nights, flights, and more.
FlexibilityUse points for bookings, upgrades, and a variety of options.
Free MembershipThere’s no cost to join, but the potential benefits are immense.

Register as a Hotel Member for Free

Numerous international hotel groups offer free membership programs. All you need to do is provide your details to join. Here are some of the top hotel rewards programs you might consider:

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Once you become a member, you can enjoy exclusive benefits. While these can differ between hotel groups, they often include:

  • Special discounts for member bookings, usually between 5% and 20%.
  • Earn points for room stays and other hotel expenses, which can be redeemed for free rooms or used to offset accommodation or dining costs.
  • Extra perks during your stay, such as late checkout, welcome drinks, and for higher-tier members, complimentary minibar, breakfast, and lounge access. For example:
    • Hilton Honors offers members access to exclusive room rates, complimentary upgrades, and points towards free nights.
    • IHG One Rewards Members can take advantage of rewards like welcome drink, extended check-out, and welcome amenities.
    • Marriott Bonvoy: With its vast network of hotels, Marriott Bonvoy members enjoy benefits like free breakfast, and the ability to earn and redeem points across a diverse portfolio of brands.

Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) for Hotels

What is BRG? BRG stands for Best Rate Guarantee, a commitment to providing the best price.

Many hotel chains use third-party booking platforms like Expedia or Booking to draw in customers. However, these chains would rather their frequent guests book directly through the hotel’s official website to avoid paying commissions to third-party platforms.

This is why most international hotel chains offer a Best Rate Guarantee. Essentially, they’re promising customers that they provide the lowest rate for room bookings on their official platform, so there’s no need to look elsewhere.

If you find a lower rate elsewhere, the hotel chain will offer compensation. To take advantage of this, you must be a member of the hotel group.

Typically, the hotel’s official website has a page dedicated to applying for BRG. If you book at a higher price on the official website, you can apply for BRG and upload the necessary proof. Once the hotel approves, you’ll receive compensation.

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Hotel Rewards Benefits: Member Discounts Rate

Membership in a hotel rewards program can lead to significant savings through member discounts.

Firstly, most hotel chains offer member-specific reduced room rates. These rates are typically at least 5% cheaper than those quoted for non-members.

Secondly, in addition to everyday room booking discounts, nearly all major hotel chains organize promotional campaigns each quarter. Participating hotels may offer room rates discounted by as much as 50%.

These promotions, ranging from a few days to several weeks, provide a great opportunity to book rooms in luxury chains at a reduced rate.

However, keeping track of these promotions, especially the short-lived ones, can be challenging.

Major international hotel chains like Hilton and Marriott typically send updates to members via email. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use an email address you check regularly when signing up for a membership to stay informed.

Hotel Membership Benefits: Points Rewards

By becoming a hotel member, you can accumulate points from your expenses at the hotel. These expenses include room charges, dining fees, spa services, and other costs. For example, the points policy at the Marriott Hotel allows you to earn 10 points for every dollar spent.

marriott earn points

Besides accruing points from hotel stays, you can also take part in periodic point-gathering activities organized by the hotel. Most major hotel groups usually offer such activities 1-2 times per quarter.

For instance, during a double points bonus event, you could earn 1,000 points for a regular stay that costs $300. In the same event, you’d be able to earn 2,000 points for the same expenditure.

Certain hotel groups, like Marriott and Hilton, periodically provide opportunities to purchase points. This serves as another engagement method for frequent patrons.

What can you do with the hotel points you earn?

You’re probably wondering, “What can I do with these hotel points?” The primary use of hotel points is to redeem free rooms. Most hotels allow points to be redeemed for rooms without any added taxes or fees. Plus, these bookings often come with flexible cancellation terms.

Of all the major hotel groups, I find Accor’s points system to be the most beneficial. Every 2,000 points can be directly deducted by 40 euros. It’s a simple and straightforward system, with no need to calculate off-season rates or categories.

Consider this: if you book a room during a hotel promotion or bonus points event, not only do you get the hotel at a 50% discount, but you also earn bonus points for future free room redemptions. This approach can significantly reduce your hotel accommodation expenses.

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Don’t forget to check out The latest hotel deals and points campaigns of hotel loyalty programs

Hotel Members Enjoy Extra Benefits

Membership in a hotel offers exclusive benefits during your stay. Major hotel groups usually promote a wide array of membership advantages. As a frequent traveler, I’ll help identify the most common and valuable ones. Use this as a reference when choosing a hotel membership that fits your needs.

  • Lounge access is a perk provided to high-level members and business travelers. Lounges offer drinks and snacks. Some luxury hotels even provide dedicated breakfast, dinner, and afternoon tea services in the lounge. The lounge also offers a quiet space for work or relaxation, greatly enhancing the stay experience.
  • Complimentary breakfast is especially beneficial in resort-type hotels or hotels located in remote areas where finding a restaurant might be inconvenient.
  • Additional points are awarded based on membership level. The higher the level, the more points you accumulate. Check the points ratio for members. For instance, Marriott regular members earn 10 points for every dollar spent, while platinum members earn 15 points per dollar.
  • Room upgrades are another benefit offered. However, the type of room upgrade and its availability usually depend on the hotel’s situation and are not guaranteed.

GTV Hotel Reservation Tips

How to Upgrade Your Hotel Membership Quickly?

Understanding the hotel membership upgrade policy is crucial. Typically, you need to stay around 50-60 nights a year to upgrade to a senior membership, which provides benefits such as access to the executive lounge, complimentary breakfast, and room upgrades.

But is there a way to upgrade your hotel membership quickly, without spending as much? Yes, there is!

Hotel groups have launched fast-track upgrade activities for premium membership to retain customers. Some membership plans even allow direct upgrades to premium membership without any stay requirements.

For instance, becoming an Intercontinental Ambassador instantly makes you a Platinum member of InterContinental.

Here are some ongoing hotel membership program fast-track upgrade activities:

Marriott Bonvoy Member Quick Upgrade Guide

IHG One Rewards Members Fast Track Upgrade Guide

Newcomer Induction Activities

If you’re considering joining a hotel group for the first time, it’s important to look for any activities designed for new members.

Currently, Marriott is offering a promotional deal for new members. If a current member refers you, you can gain an extra 2,000 points for each stay, up to five times. This could equate to roughly US$70. Essentially, these points could potentially cover the cost of a stay, provided you join the membership in a specific way.

Please note that this Marriott promotion is not advertised on their official website. To take part, you need to reach out to Marriott customer service. For more details, please refer to our Detailed Marriott New Member Recruitment Guide.

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Check out The latest hotel deals and points campaigns of hotel loyalty programs

Hotel Insider Tips for Earning More Points

Charge all expenses, whether from dining in the restaurant, shopping, or using a taxi, to your room account. This approach helps you accumulate more points. Since you’re spending the money anyway, it makes sense to earn extra points for free room redemptions.

For example, I once stayed at a resort in Thailand with friends. We bought some specialties at the resort and asked the staff to add these costs to our room charges, planning to pay upon check-out.

As a platinum member of the hotel, I received a 20% discount on these purchases, which pleased my friends. I also earned extra points which I later used for a free night in Phuket.

Even without staying at the hotel, you can still earn points on your membership card. For instance, if you eat at a Marriott hotel, just show your membership card. The hotel will record your expenses on the card, helping you accumulate more points.

Book Through Official Hotel Channels

Most official hotel offers are exclusive to members and require bookings to be made through official channels, such as the hotel’s official website or app.

Booking through third-party platforms like Expedia or Booking may result in you not receiving membership benefits at check-in.

So, if the prices are similar, it’s recommended to book through the hotel’s official website or app.

Maximize Your Benefits with a Credit Card

Using a credit card to book hotels can give you extra perks. In addition to hotel membership benefits, you can also leverage offers from credit card companies.

Almost all large hotel groups partner with credit card companies. Details about these partnerships are included in the booking strategies shared by each hotel group on GTV.

After observing the benefits of various hotel rewards programs, you might be wondering which one to join.

Consider factors such as your usual travel destinations, the prominent hotel brands in those regions, and their respective prices. Your preferences for membership perks are also significant. For example, do you value a free breakfast more than a room upgrade?

Drawing from personal experiences as a regular hotel guest, GTV offers the following advice:

  • Marriott Hotels boasts the world’s largest network with the most locations. If your destination is flexible, consider the Marriott Bonvoy Membership.
  • Accor Hotels offers excellent value, providing quality service without high rates. Its points system is user-friendly. If you prefer a straightforward membership plan, consider Accor Hotels as a mid-budget option. You may want to join the Accor Hotels Member program.
  • If you frequently visit a specific hotel, find out if it’s part of a group. If so, register as a group member before booking.

GTV provides detailed membership strategies for several major hotel groups. For more information, visit the Best Value Hotel Loyalty Programs & Rewards Programs

Additional resources:

Additional Hotel Booking Tips

Apart from chain hotels, many other options exist. Here are a few crucial hotel booking strategies:

Utilize Hotel Price Comparison Websites

Before deciding on a hotel, visit a hotel price comparison website. This helps identify which platform offers the lowest booking price, such as Tripadvisor, Kayak.

OTA Hotel Booking Websites

If you’re planning a stay at a non-international chain hotel, consider using an OTA (Online Travel Agency) such as Booking, Trip.com, Agoda, and others.

These platforms list numerous hotels and feature countless reviews, making it straightforward to find hotels that fit your requirements.

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Guide to the Best Hotel Booking Websites.

A New Approach to Luxury Travel

Travel has evolved, with innovative options now widely available. A popular choice is Airbnb, which offers a wide range of luxury accommodations, from beachfront villas to secluded forest cabins.

If you’re currently traveling in the Asia-Pacific region, check out Klook and Trip. They offer extensive travel guides and accommodation recommendations, along with various travel and accommodation packages.

Answering the Call of Affordable Luxury

The question isn’t why you should join a hotel rewards program, but rather, why wouldn’t you? With no fees to sign up and a treasure trove of benefits at your fingertips, these programs are the answer to experiencing luxury travel without breaking the bank. Whether it’s a spontaneous weekend getaway or a meticulously planned holiday, being a member of a hotel rewards program means you’re one step closer to the trip of your dreams.

In conclusion, the world of luxury hotels is not as elusive as it seems. With the right knowledge and a bit of savvy, finding the best hotel deals for that nice hotel you’ve been eyeing is entirely within reach. After all, smart luxury is the best kind of luxury.


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