A reader, Jill, sent me a question that I thought was worth devoting a post to. It is especially relevant to those 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 worrying about cost. Here is Jill’s question, followed by my recommendation:
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 😉
What’s great about Jill’s situation is that she’s essentially on a work-mandated mattress run. She can leverage it 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.
I’d recommend focusing on getting elite status with a program that has reasonable redemption rates and elite benefits. A loyalty program that partners with lots of hotels in the region she hopes to travel to is a nice bonus. 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. However, with the help of a status challenge, she can get top-tier status with both!
Jill should start with the SPG Platinum challenge. This 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 get to 50 nights, there’s no need to go past 18 during this 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. Additionally, she’ll earn a 30% bonus on base points.
This is a great opportunity for Jill to get top-tier status with two programs that would normally require a combined 50 stays or 100 nights. Maximizing 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.