Since September, Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) has been teasing about the changes coming to its Discovery guest loyalty program.
GHA Discovery has now announced the conversion value of Local Experience Awards to Discovery Dollars (D$) and the percentage of D$ that you earn for your stays.
You can access GHA Discovery here.
Local Experience Award Conversion
- Platinum Local Experience Award = D$100
- Black Local Experience Award = D$200
Existing awards are converted into D$ on December 7, 2021
GHA Discovery members earn 4% to 7% of the room rate and hotel expenses as D$.
GHA Discovery Tier requirements:
- Gold – Stay 2 times or spend $1,000
- Platinum – Stay 10 nights, spend $5,000 or stay at 2 brands
- Titanium – Stay 30 nights, spend $15,000 or stay at 3 brands
There are 44 brands currently listed on GHA’s website, and NH Hotels will join in early 2022.
It is unclear what the benefits of the new Gold, Platinum, and Titanium tiers are.
Here’s the release from GHA:
GLOBAL HOTEL ALLIANCE LAUNCHES REIMAGINED GHA DISCOVERY LOYALTY PROGRAMME GIVING MEMBERS MORE REWARDS, RECOGNITION AND LOCAL EXPERIENCES
Enhanced scheme meets the demands of modern travellers with a new digital rewards currency, benefits from the first stay and access to hotel facilities without a stay
Dubai, November 22, 2021: The reimagination of GHA DISCOVERY, the world’s largest loyalty programme for independent hotel brands, which will be officially relaunched in early December, meets traveller demand for more rewards, recognition and opportunities to enjoy hotels and resorts at home or away. Operated by Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the programme, in tune with trends shaping travel’s future, encompasses more than 500 hotels across 35 brands in 85 countries, and will expand its reach further when NH Hotels Group joins in 2022, adding another 360 hotels.
Designed in response to member feedback and evolved consumer behaviour, with travellers asking for more flexibility on how they earn and spend, including the chance to accrue and redeem rewards close to home, GHA DISCOVERY is modelled around three member-centric concepts: a new simplified digital rewards currency, DISCOVERY Dollars (D$); Recognition, with more tiers and enhanced instant benefits; and Live Local, offering ‘around-the-corner’ lifestyle experiences, offers and promotions – from spa days to dining to weekend staycations and more.
“Our members spoke, and we listened. Our extensive market research study found travellers get frustrated with the complexity of points and miles and seek a more transparent, flexible and lifestyle-driven rewards scheme. With DISCOVERY Dollars, we will have the first digital rewards currency in the industry, enabling members to cash in on their loyalty from the very first stay and to earn and redeem on a wide range of offerings, including upgrades, stays and exclusive experiences,” said GHA’s CEO Chris, Hartley.
“With the pandemic restricting overseas travel, and frequent local trips becoming the norm as consumers explore destinations on their doorstep, our new loyalty programme is richer and more accessible, enabling members to accumulate and spend rewards in hotels and resorts closer to home, with or without a stay. These key benefits are at the heart of GHA DISCOVERY and will be delivered by the 35 brands of the alliance, with their own individuality and cultural diversity.”
Key benefits of the new programme:
- DISCOVERY DOLLARS (D$): An all-new digital rewards currency where members earn D$ automatically at any property in GHA DISCOVERY’s collection for use on future stays. At check-out, D$ earned on previous stays can be used towards the hotel room, room upgrades, dining, spa treatments, or other extras. Members can earn D$ from Day One, and the percentage earned on eligible spend increases with membership tier status, starting at 4% and rising to 7%.
- EXPANDED MEMBERSHIP TIERS: The new GHA DISCOVERY tiers are Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium. New members achieve Silver status on joining the programme and are entitled to benefits from their first stay. Tier upgrades are easier and faster to access, thanks to an extra tier added and more flexible criteria. Members can move to the next tier in three ways – the number of nights/stays, spend across eligible purchases, or the number of hotel brands stayed in. Titanium members can also benefit from status sharing, with the option to gift their tier to a friend or family member each year.
- LIVE LOCAL: Tapping into the staycation trend, Live Local gives members access to GHA properties in their hometown through Stay Offers for well-deserved breaks; Local Offers for short bursts of enjoyment without a stay, such as access to the beach, gym or pool, or special deals on dining and wellness; plus Experiences – bespoke member-only activities that immerse them in their local culture or community, from tours and classes to events and nature-bound expeditions.
The move from Local Experience Awards to Discovery Dollars is a positive change. Revenue-based programs, however, are boring because they are essentially cashback schemes without outside redemption values. Want to use your points for a vacation in the Maldives? Be ready to spend $100,000 or more on hotel expenses first.
GHA Discovery has not yet communicated what benefits loyalty program members at each tier receive and the requirements for the unpublicized “invitation” only level.
There will be roughly 900 GHA Discovery-affiliated hotels in 2022 after NH Hotels join. It is a reasonable number, but there are markets with a minimal number or no hotels at all; Four hotels in Canada, fourteen hotels in the United States, two in Brazil, two in Mexico, etc. The program is better suited for travelers in Asia and Europe, where GHA-affiliated brands have hotels.
I briefly had status with GHA Discovery in the mid/early 2010s but gave up because I saw very little value in Local Experience Awards. Perhaps it is time to revisit the program?