It is the time of the year when many of us are looking at the hotel account statements for stay & night counts. You may have enjoyed the benefits of the elite status such as Diamond or Platinum and are now few stays short on qualifying or, for the first time, you may be few stays short of qualifying for the higher tier.
Does it make sense to do few mattress runs (un-needed stays) to qualify or requalify for hotel elite status?
Overall, if you are, let’s say, 3 to 5 stays short, in most cases, it probably does make sense. You should consider your travel patterns in 2013. Do you expect to have about the same number of stays as this year or is your travel going to pick up?
You could always do bunch of stays in early 2013 before your status lapses and then requalify for all the way to early 2015.
How much do you realistically value the benefits that you have received in 2012 based on the elite status such as:
2. Club lounge access / breakfast
3. Welcome amenities
4. Extra points
5. Problem resolution
6. Complimentary internet access
When I say realistically value, I mean, how much you would have paid for those extra benefits. I don’t mean what is the “rack” rate i.e. between a room you booked and the suite you received.
If you have decided to requalify or qualify for the higher status and are few stays/points short, here are my tips for various chains:
Hilton has offered fast tracks for qualifying Gold and Diamond status several times over the years. They have also not downgraded me on some years from Diamond to Gold, when I have been few stays short.
Hilton properties in non-resort locations are rather inexpensive around the holidays, when business travelers are gone. Hilton just announced excellent public Friends & Family sale that qualifies for stay credit and points. You can snag very good properties at exceptionally low rates. You can also try other discount rates such as Little League, UK Public Employee Offer, Corporate Benefits Employee offer and MVP. Note that Hilton’s awards also count for stay/night credit.
Hilton has a very good Gold level status program and it is probably not worth a lot trying to make a Diamond. Gold gives you access to VIP awards, free internet access and for breakfast and/or lounge access. The latter is not guaranteed.
You could always do a MVP Gold challenge early next year and qualify for Gold status until February 2015.
Hyatt’s Platinum status is fairly useless and gives you just complimentary internet access. Hyatt just announced that they are going away with Platinum Extras Awards that Platinum members used to get for every three stays.
So, I would only do a mattress run to get to the Diamond status. Hyatt doesn’t count award nights for status qualifying purposes, so you need to pay for a going rate that can get very expensive very fast if you are located outside of the United States.
InterContinental Hotels Group/Priority Club
With Priority Club you can qualify based on the points that you have earned or the number of nights that you have stayed at their properties. They are changing the qualification criteria next year to only count the base points that you have earned from the stays or the nights. Currently all earned points count towards the status.
If you haven’t signed up for any Priority Club promotions for a while and have at least Gold status, you can easily get in excess of 10K points out from a paid stay due to numerous one time bonus offers that I have written here.
Alternatively, you can stay in a hotel that offers extra Priority Club Points that will also count toward the stays.
The last option would be to just buy the number of points that you are short off. These counts as well.
Marriott’s requirements for Gold Status (50 nights) and for Platinum (75 nights) are high compared to other chains.
You can always buy back the status that you have this year in 2013 IF you don’t qualify or they don’t extend your status based on your stay history.
Other options would be to do the Taste of Platinum or Gold match early next year.
Reward nights do not count toward status.
Marriott’s also awards 10 elite qualifying nights, if you arrange a meeting at their property. This “meeting” can require as little as renting a conference room for couple of hours at a Courtyard for hundred bucks or so.
Overall, the difference between the Gold and Platinum with Marriott are relatively insignificant especially if you are traveling in North America and mainly use limited service properties.
Starwood introduced several new levels within the Platinum status this year; 50 nights gives you SNA’s (Suite Night Awards), 75 nights gives you fourth Starpoint and You24, and 100 nights personalized Ambassador.
Personally, I wouldn’t bother reaching for 50, 75, or 100 nights unless you are just couple of stays short. The benefits are not that significant. I haven’t used a single SNA, never tried using You24 (not confirmed but rather based on availability), and have used the Ambassador only handful of times.
But if you are just few stays short of Platinum status, I would most definitely try to reach it. Paid, award and cash + points now all count toward the 25 stays or 50 nights requirement.
If you find a really good rate, you can make the booking for THREE rooms. You can book up to three rooms under one membership number and get a stay/night credits for all the rooms. Note that the SPG member must pay for them all.
It really is a last call when it comes to qualifying for 2013. I have given up on both Marriott and Hyatt this year.
I have been Hyatt Diamond since around 2004 and this is the first year that I am not qualifying. They just haven’t had enough good promotions and the lack of reasonably priced international locations have been both deterrents. I had had more than 30 nights as awards, but they don’t count with Hyatt.
With Marriott, I am going to do a challenge next year or use the elite buy back process that I was referring above. Not sure what I am going to do with the Hyatt,however. SPG Platinum, Hilton Diamond and Priority Club Platinum/InterContinental Royal Ambassador are all banked at this point.