More often than not, many travellers will book a hotel room based on two key factors: price and location. A growing reason for choosing one hotel over another, however, is a hotel’s, customer loyalty program, also known as a frequent guest program. These programs are simple and similar in ways to frequent flyer programs. Customers earn points for staying with a particular hotel, chain or group, which can be redeemable for anything from discounts or upgrades, to a free stay. However you’d be wrong if you think you have to be a frequent traveller to benefit from joining a program like this. At the very least, you can sign up and gradually accrue points, which also tend not to expire, and many offer redemption options beyond free rooms and upgrades, allowing members to trade points for gift certificates, concerts and more. Serious road warriors will get the greatest return, however, benefitting from a variety of perks including room upgrades, early check-in, late check-out, free Wi-Fi, free breakfast, complimentary newspapers and much more.
So if you want red carpet when you travel, how do you make the most from your membership? Our top tip is to maximise your points to achieve a higher status. To do that you need to join programs which have a low threshold for elite levels, as well as a large number of hotels around the globe to choose from. This makes it easy to rack up qualifying nights, and to start enjoying those perks. Another way to do this might be through a hotel-branded credit card; they’re not as common in Australia as they are in the United States, but they do exist. Another tip is to focus on programs offered by smaller companies, as they can be more generous when competing with the larger ones, although the benefits may vary from hotel to hotel, and from country to country. One thing to be aware of, however, is that hotel loyalty programs often don’t acknowledge bookings made through third-party websites such as Agoda or Booking.com, so your discounted rate comes at the cost of not being able to accrue points. Instead, book directly with the hotel, chain or group, or through our featured hotel deal links, which take you straight to the source so you don’t miss out.