Few of us have much choice of airline frequent flier program, because there is usually one program that is clearly 'better' than the others, due to whichever airline has the best service to the most places from our home airport. Furthermore, there's not really a huge amount of difference between the different airline frequent flier programs, or between the airlines themselves either, at least for all except the most frequent fliers and most avid frequent flier mile collectors (perhaps I should say 'hunters').
But it is a whole different world when it comes to hotels. We have more true freedom of choice in terms of which hotel programs we wish to favor, and there are both greater and lesser differences between the various hotel programs. You could perhaps say that the essential high value reward of an upgrade on a plane is much less meaningful when it is a hotel room upgrade for a room we're only in to sleep overnight. But whereas all airlines sort of provide similar services, there are great differences in hotel experiences – and also hotel locations.
More subtly, there are also huge differences in the different hotel reward programs and how many stays/dollars you need to give to the hotel before you get free room nights and other benefits back in return.
So while the core concept of a hotel rewards program is perhaps less essential to our travel wellbeing, the wider variation in hotel frequent guest programs should motivate us to take a careful look at which hotel groups we make our preferred first choice.
The hotel frequent guest programs are great on gloss, but obscure on some of the underlying details. So we've read through their fine print terms and conditions in an attempt to try and get the key facts of each hotel program presented to you, and we've interspersed the facts with critical analysis on how to interpret the facts and how to strategize your hotel selections for best return.
You can see the first part of this new article series here – How to Choose the Best Hotel Frequent Guest Program – and I hope you'll then decide to proceed on to read the balance of the series too.