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Reader Question: How to Maximize Work Travel for Hotel Elite Status

A reader, Jill, sent me a question that I thought was worth devoting a post to – especially for those of you who travel quite a bit for work. When your travel expenses are paid for by your employer, this creates the perfect opportunity to earn elite status, possibly with multiple chains, without worry about cost. Here is Jill’s question, followed by my recommendation to her:

My job will be requiring me to travel Mondays & Tuesdays over the next few months, so I will most likely be staying in hotels Mondays and Tuesday nights through the end of 2014 in major US cities. I know this can be expensive (job will pay back, but I have to lay out the money first) and I know that I should also definitely take advantage of this to boost any hotel status possible. My question is – which hotel status should I go after? I’m beginning to plan future non-business trips for next year to Iceland, Poland, Italy, San Francisco, and I’m hoping to somehow swing Japan in January. I’m just mentioning these in case that helps with any suggestions on point chasing 😉

Hyatt Regency Sacramento check-in

Hyatt Regency Sacramento check-in

What’s great about Jill’s situation is that she’s essentially on a work-mandated mattress run, which she can leverage to obtain top-tier elite status with more than one chain. Having elite status can tremendously improve her travel experience when she heads to Europe or Japan next year. Assuming Jill starts mattress running in September, we’re looking at about 32 stays/nights through the end of the year (average 8 per month, between September-December).

I’d recommend focusing on getting status with a program that has reasonable redemption requirements, hotels in the region she hopes to travel to, and generous elite benefits. Starwood and Hyatt both fit the bill. Starwood has more properties than Hyatt, but Hyatt offers better elite benefits. Both programs normally require 25 stays/50 nights for top-tier status, but with the help of a status challenge, she can get top-tier status with both!

Jill should start with the SPG Platinum challenge, which is the easiest way to earn top-tier status without having to show proof of status with another program. SPG Platinum status will be helpful to Jill during her personal travel to Europe/Asia, while also giving her status that she can use to qualify for the Hyatt Diamond challenge. She’ll need to send an email to platinum.liaison@starwoodhotels.com. After she completes 18 nights within 90 days, she gets to keep her Platinum status through February 2016. Starwood members who complete 50 nights per year also get 10 Suite Night Awards, which can really come in handy on an extensive trip to Europe. However, if she won’t have 50 nights on the books, there’s no need to go past 18 during this 3-month mattress run.

Once she has Platinum status with SPG, she can request a Hyatt Diamond Challenge. This requires 12 nights within 60 days. Once her 12 nights are complete, she gets to keep her status through February 2016. All of the elite benefits (free breakfast, wifi, room upgrades) are available to her right away. What’s great about the Diamond challenge is that she’ll receive 1,000 bonus points per night on the first 6 nights, in addition to earning a 30% bonus on base points.

This is a great opportunity for Jill to get top-tier status with two programs that would typically require a combined 50 stays/100 nights to obtain. Maximizing those 32 nights by getting elite status with both SPG and Hyatt will ensure that she’s completely covered no matter where she decides to travel to.

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Ariana Arghandewal

4 Comments

  1. What about timing to get best use out of Diamond status with Hyatt? Is it better to do it now or wait till the beginning of the year to maximize the entire year?

    • Two typos in the article above:
      “This requires 12 stays within 60 days. Once her 12 nights”

      Wrong the first time, right the second time. It’s nights.

      “she gets to keep her status through February 2015”

      It’s February 2016.

      Lee Ann, this is the perfect time of year to do Hyatt Diamond challenge because it lasts through Feb. 2016. It does not switch to lasting through Feb. 2017 until June 1 of 2015. So:
      Before June 1, Feb. + 1 year
      After June 1, Feb + 2 years

      In any case, when you email goldpassport@hyatt.com to request the Hyatt Diamond Challenge, they will reply with the precise terms and conditions so you’re crystal clear on the requirements.

      If you want to go ahead and do the Hyatt Diamond first, Hilton Gold is quite easy to get (which you can then parlay into the Hyatt Diamond challenge) from a variety of sources (and I strongly recommend it as a great backup status), including:
      American Express Platinum
      MilePoint Premium
      Several of the Citi or Amex Hilton HHonors credit cards
      The Visa Infinite deal that comes and goes
      eBay

      Here’s the full list of other statuses that can be used for the Hyatt Diamond challenge:
      Hilton Honors- Gold VIP and Diamond
      Marriott- Gold and Platinum
      Starwood- Platinum
      Priority Club (now IHG Rewards Club)-Platinum

      Full details can be found at FT: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/hyatt-gold-passport/1145611-hyatt-tier-status-matching-challenge-information-11-10-a.html

      I’m glad to answer any questions, as well. I’ve done the Hyatt Diamond challenge twice now and will requalify on stays (and possibly nights too) for this year. I love the status. Best hotel status out there.

    • Lee Ann, I’d do it now for several reasons. First, there are rumors of Hyatt making changes to their Diamond trial and my hunch is that it will be less generous than it is now. Second, if you have an upcoming trip this year, you should absolutely get the trial now because it is good through 2/2016 (previously, there was a typo of 2015).

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