With Hyatt finally leaking their information on their early 2012 promotion, we have a complete look at hotel promotions for the next few months, at least for the “Big 5″ (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club, Starwood). Of course, it can be tough keeping track of all these promotions, and harder still to determine which is best for you.
Here’s a quick recap of the current promotions:
- Hilton: MorePoints (1000 Bonus Points per night and 5000 Bonus Points if your reservation includes 2 consecutive weekend nights). This is stackable with their everyday bonus of 1000 Bonus Points for a 2-night weekend stay when you choose their “Any Weekend, Anywhere” rate (7+ day advance notice, prepaid, non-refundable). Also stackable with Double Miles.
- Hyatt: Stay More, Earn More, which involves bonus points in a tiered structure, starting with 4,000 bonus points after you stay at least 4 nights and ending at 44,000 bonus points for 16 nights during the promotion period. Hyatt credit card holders earn 25% more bonus points.
- Marriott: Megabonus, where you earn one free night certificate (at category 1-4 hotels, redeemable through September 30) after every two stays, with a maximum of two stays. After you earn your free nights, you can switch over to the MegaMiles promotion for 2000 bonus airline miles per stay.
- Priority Club: Stay X Nights, Earn Y Points, where you can earn 5000 bonus points after 3 nights up to 15,000 bonus points after 15 nights. This is stackable with “2x More“, offering double points starting with your second stay.
- Starwood: Better by the Night, which gives double points on 2-night stays or triple points on stays of 3+ nights, though many properties are excluded.
So which promotion is the best fit for you? Let’s look at three potential scenarios and run the math. I’ll be looking at what a standard visitor will earn, based on no elite status (at least at the start of this promotion), no credit card holder bonus, and the typical earnings rate (i.e. in cases where certain properties differ in earnings structure, I’m taking the most common earnings rate…such as 10 points per dollar at most Marriott-family hotels vs. 5 points at Residence Inn). I’m assuming all rooms are at an average cost of $150/night, but when you do your own analysis, substitute in whatever metrics are most relevant to you!
1. The Couple Looking for a Few Quick Weekend Getaways (Total of 2 Stays / 4 Nights / $600 Spent)
If Jack and Jill spend two weekends away, each with a 2-night stay, which promotion is best for them? Marriott
- Hilton: Total Earnings of 22,000 HHonors Points and 2,000 Airline Miles. This includes 6,000 Base Points, 1,000 Base Miles, 14,000 “MorePoints” bonus points, 2,000 “Any Weekend, Anywhere” bonus points, and 1,000 bonus miles due to earning double miles.
- Hyatt: Total Earnings of 7,000 Gold Passport Points. This includes 3,000 Base Points and 4,000 Bonus Points.
- Marriott: Total Earnings of 6,000 Marriott Rewards Points and 2 Free Night Certificates. This includes 6,000 Base Points and 2 Free Night Certificates.
- Priority Club: Total Earnings of 14,000 Priority Club Points. This includes 6,000 Base Points and 5,000 Bonus Points from the “Stay X Nights” promotion, and 3,000 points from the 2x promotion.
- Starwood: Total Earnings of 1,200 SPG Points. This includes 600 Base Points and 600 Bonus Points.
My thoughts: Two free nights is a pretty hefty incentive from Marriott. Being able to redeem these certificates at up to a Category 4 hotel offers tons of options on destination,which is obviously a huge factor in usability. You can snag just about any Fairfield Inn or Courtyard property with these certificates, and in the right destination, you might be able to live it up at a Renaissance or even a JW Marriott. The September 30 expiration may be a bit of an issue for some travelers, but given the amount of eligible properties, I’d guess you’d be able to use the certificates for something without a problem. Plus, those 6,000 points are enough for a PointStretcher reward at Category 1 hotels, so you may end up with 3 free nights if you play your cards right. Hilton is a pretty close runner-up if you are able to redeem your points at low-end properties (you have almost enough points for 3 nights at a Category 1 hotel, though the list of properties is quite short), and obviously a few airline miles won’t hurt your case either
2. The Family on a Week-Long Vacation (Total of 2 Stays / 8 Nights / $1,200 Spent)
If the Smith family is going on a vacation for a week and plans to spend Saturday – Tuesday nights at one hotel and then Wednesday – Saturday nights at another hotel, which promotion is best for them? Marriott
- Hilton: Total Earnings of 32,000 HHonors Points and 2,000 Airline Miles. This includes 12,000 base points, 1,000 base miles, 18,000 “MorePoints” bonus points, 2,000 “Any Weekend, Anywhere” points, and 1,000 bonus miles.
- Hyatt: Total Earnings of 18,000 Gold Passport Points. This includes 6,000 base points and 12,000 bonus points.
- Marriott: Total Earnings of 12,000 Marriott Rewards Points and 2 Free Night Certificates. This includes 12,000 base points and 2 free night certificates.
- Priority Club: Total Earnings of 28,000 Priority Club Points. This inclues 12,000 base points, 10,000 bonus points from the “Stay X” promotion, and 6,000 bonus points from the “2x” promotion.
- Starwood: Total Earnings of 3,600 SPG Points. This includes 1,200 base points and 2,400 bonus points.
My Thoughts: This is where the promotions start to equal out a little more, depending on how and where you want to use your points. If you can find a low-level hotel in your favored destination and combine it with rotating specials like PointStretchers or PointBreaks hotels, you’ll earn enough points for several free nights at any chain other than Starwood. However, assuming you’re at more of a mid-tier reward level, Marriott still wins with 2 free night certificates and potentially 1-2 more low-level nights by using points. This time, Hyatt comes in a close second. 18,000 points will buy you 3 nights at a Category 1 hotel, 2 nights at a Category 2 hotel, or 1 night at an incredible Category 5 hotel.
3. The Road Warrior (Total of 8 Stays / 16 Nights/ $2,400 Spent)
If Mr. Wilson is away on business during the week on a semi-frequent basis with a multitude of 2-nights stays, which promotion is best for him? Hyatt
- Hilton: Total Earnings of 40,000 HHonors Points and 8,000 Airline Miles. This includes 24,000 base points, 4,000 base miles, 16,000 “MorePoints” bonus points, and 4,000 bonus miles. Although you’d qualify for silver status during this scenario even if you started from nothing, you won’t receive an elite bonus if your earnings are set to miles (in order to qualify for the Double Miles promotion). If you wanted to forfeit the double miles once you reach silver status in order to earn extra points (including elite bonus) instead, you would earn 6,90o Hilton points, which I’d value roughly the same as the 2,000 bonus miles you’d give up.
- Hyatt: Total Earnings of 56,675 Gold Passport Points. This includes 12,000 base points and 44,000 bonus points.You’d also earn 675 elite bonus points because even if you started from scratch, you’d still reach elite status partway through this scenario.
- Marriott: Total Earnings of 12,000 Marriott Rewards Points, 2 Free Night Certificates, and 10,400 Airline Miles. This includes 12,000 base points, 2 free night certificates, as well as 2,400 base miles and 8,000 bonus miles for switching over to the MegaMiles promotion. Even though you qualify for silver status during this scenario, you won’t receive an elite bonus if your earnings are set to miles (in order to qualify for the MegaMiles promotion). Forfeiting the MegaMiles results in 14,400 points, which in my opinion, are worth less than 10,400 miles.
- Priority Club: Total Earnings of 82,200 Priority Club Points. This includes 24,000 base points, 15,000 bonus points from the “Stay X” promotion, 42,000 bonus points from the “2x” promotion, and another 1,200 elite bonus points.
- Starwood: Total Earnings of 4,800 SPG Points. This includes 2,400 base points and 2,400 bonus points. You haven’t yet qualified for elite status.
My Thoughts: When you stay this often, you’re bound to get several free nights with any hotel chain. Hyatt offers a great deal – you’ll get enough points for 2 free nights at their top-tier properties along with enough points for 2 more nights at low-level properties. If luxury’s not your thing, you have enough for 11 free nights at Category 1 hotels or a respectable 4 nights at Category 3 hotels (with points leftover)…with no expiration dates on the free nights. That’s extraordinary flexibility! Marriott remains a contender, with up to 4 free nights at low-to-mid level hotels and almost enough airline miles for a one-way domestic ticket. Priority Club theoretically could offer 16 nights at PointBreaks hotels or 2 nights at an Intercontinental. Compared to these options, Hilton and Starwood seem only mediocre.
It’s hard to believe, but I have no hotel stays planned for this time period – my vacation in February is already set and on a cruise ship, so no points to be had. I guess I’ll have to wait for the spring promotions to come out to start strategically planning my hotel stays.