Savvy business travelers prize their elite hotel status almost as much as their airline frequent flyer accomplishments. And why not elite status with one of the big hotel chains can mean a host of excellent perks from room upgrades to early check ins and late check outs, welcome gifts, business club access and of course free rooms. Plus after a long international flight it is nice to arrive at a hotel where they already know your name, your likes and your dislikes and where they respect and reward your loyalty.
But hotels are not like airlines, there are many more options and many more types of experiences to enjoy on the ground than in the air. From large international chains to small chic boutique hotels, from the most traditional basic property to uber modern luxury resorts, the depth and breadth of hotel experiences is truly unmatched by any other sector in the travel industry. And so this brings up a very good question, should global travelers try to be brand loyal and build status and points with one chain or should they mix up their stays and enjoy a variety of different hotel accommodations? The answer really depends on the traveler.
Don Smith is a typical road warrior. He puts on about 150,000 miles a year traveling to Europe and Asia for a large multinational consultant and like many elites he prides himself on status. “I work hard to obtain Platinum with IHG (representing InterContinental Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, etc) and Gold with SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest program which covers W Hotels, Sheraton, Le Meridien and more), so I always try to stay at a property where I am being rewarded with points.” Of copurse Marriott’s recent takeover of Starwood now means reciprocal status which is goof for travelers.
But Susan Wright a high tech entrepreneur who is on the road almost as much as she is home has a very different approach. “Why would I limit myself to one chain or another, I love the entire hotel experience and often book two or three different properties in the same city on the same trip just to enjoy different types of accommodations.”
Don Smith’s approach is to simply visit the website of his main hotel loyalty programs, see what his corporate rate is at various properties, determine which chains are offering points promotions or other incentives and then to book the stay where he feels he’s maximizing his earning potential. “I like the freebies associated with elite status, I like being recognized as a good customer when I check in and I like accruing miles to use for free rooms on vacation.” Susan Wright’s approach, as you would guess is very different. According to her, “Half the fun of visiting a new city is exploring the hotel scene so I research different websites, read reviews and then try to find the most interesting or unique experience. I am not opposed to big chains, I do love them, but I don’t want to lose sight of the smaller, more distinct local brands either.”
However both Smith and Wright agree that where you stay while on the road is an important component of any trip. Wright says, “I feel more connected, more engaged when I am staying at a great property. It is a smart investment for me.” While Smith builds on this, “To me where you stay says a lot about who you are and your success. When you’re doing business far from home you want to make sure that you’re projecting the right professional image. So I like the big, solid, globally-minded hotel brands.”
So whether you like to sleep around or are brand loyal the key to enjoying your trip is staying at a great hotel. As Wright so eloquently sums up, “My favorite hotel is the one I’m staying at tonight. I just love hotel culture and look forward to every new experience.”
So what about you? How do you decide what hotel to stay at?