I openly confess to a fairly heavy Hilton bias when it comes to hotels and hotel loyalty schemes. While a number of Hilton (in particular, the core Hilton brand) hotels leave a fair bit to be desired, there’s a consistency, predictability and (sometimes…) value to the Hilton and the Hilton Honors loyalty scheme that I very much appreciate.
The problem, of course, in getting too comfortable with any one loyalty scheme is you do become blinkered. You become so familiar with that scheme that you end up overlooking potentially great value options, just because they are outside of that comfort zone. This is of course compounded by the fact that you’re likely to have racked up a large number of points in your preferred scheme, and not so many in others. It’s a trap, and one I fall into all too frequently.
Which is definitely why I end up staying in those awful central London Hiltons all too often, and then moaning about it every time.
Anyway, with those cautionary words duly dispensed, let’s focus on a great loyalty scheme benefit that Hilton does not offer…
Value redemptions – the missed opportunities
One of the most frustrating elements to booking reward stays or flights, is the need to transfer the points required for it from another account, or otherwise acquire the points because you haven’t got enough. For example, transferring Amex Membership Rewards points into hotel or airline miles, SPG points to airline miles etc, or just earning them through stays or flights.
If you’ve spotted a great value redemption, this can be a frustratingly time consuming process that can delay your booking options: potentially leading to missed opportunities.
By way of example, I recently booked a flexible economy flight with Etihad, with a view to upgrading it to Business Class as and when Business Class seats become available. The problem here is when they do, I then have to transfer points from Membership Rewards into Etihad, before I am able to book. This is not an instant process, and runs the risk of the Business Class seat being snapped up by someone else.
You could argue I should just transfer the points in advance, but there’s the danger that if I do so, no Business Class seats will open up and I’ll be left with a chunk of Etihad points I have no real use for – certainly less useful to me than flexible Membership Rewards points.
Another example is a great value hotel redemption you’ve spotted, but simply don’t have sufficient points for. You know you’ll get those points from an upcoming stay, but until they have posted to your account, you cannot make that great value booking.
So, wouldn’t it be great if loyalty schemes let you book reward stays or flights on “points credit”: permitting you to secure the booking, but requiring you to meet the points balance requirement by a certain date?
Well, in the case of Marriott Rewards, they do!
Booking Reward stays “on credit” with Marriott Rewards
If you find a great value redemption with Marriott Rewards, you can simply book it with the points balance you have in your account, and then you just need to ensure the sufficient number of points for the stay are in your Marriott Rewards points, before the stay.
This is a fantastic little perk of the Marriott Rewards scheme. In my case, it let me secure a guaranteed great value redemption at a Marriott, while in the meantime I had to put into action a points transfer from Amex Membership Rewards, to SPG, which will then be transferred on to Marriott.
The other great thing about this option is it doesn’t only assist people who need to transfer points from a third party. If you want to book a reward stay with Marriott in – say – September 2018, and you’re going to earn the points for that via stays earlier in the year, you can make that September booking, safe in the knowledge that the points required for that booking will have appeared in your Marriott Rewards account by the time they are needed for the September booking.
What a great, flexible way, to allow people to book reward stays with Marriott. I doff my cap to them for this!