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Maximizing Hotel Elite Status By Planning Meetings

by on February 23, 2012 · 16 comments

in Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Priority Club Rewards, Starwood, TPG Contributors

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TPG Contributor Max Bloom explains how planning meetings can earn you elite status at the major hotel chains. Last post he gave an intro to planning meetings.

Every major hotel chain allows meeting planners to earn elite status through meetings, though their criteria vary. Some award status based upon the amount of money you spend, while others award it based on the number of qualifying meetings held or the number of base points accumulated in a calendar year.

Registration

While hotels are usually good about awarding points and status to anyone planning a meeting, Priority Club, Starwood and Hilton require registration as a meeting planner. For all three, you need to already have a personal account in their respective programs. Registration doesn’t require any business details and is simply a process of identifying yourself as a planner. You can find  registration info for all three programs below. Just as a note: Hilton and Starwood claim to require registration, but I have seen them award points and status to planners who were not registered. Still, better safe than sorry.

Priority Club: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/pc/1/en/mbmeetings/meet-rewards

Starwood: http://www2.teamhot.com/rfp/spp/index.cfm

Hilton: Call Hilton customer service at (800) 548-8690 and tell them you want to register as an event planner. You can reference code EVPL if needed.

How Elite Status is Determined

It’s very hard to make apples to apples comparisons because the accrual of elite status is so different between chains, but there are essentially three ways of deciding which program is will give you the highest status the fastest.

1) How much money you spend per meeting.

2) How many meetings you hold per year.

3) Whether or not your meeting includes sleeping rooms.

Today I’m going to discuss the first two, and will cover #3 in next week’s post.

Base Points

You’ll notice I will use the term “base points” to talk about Priority Club and Hilton. Priority Club rewards you three base points per dollar spent on an event. Hilton awards you just one base point per dollar spent on an event.

Elite Qualifications By Chain

I’ve put together this comparison table showing the requirements for elite status at the 5 major hotel chains with explanations below.

Hotel Chain

Starwood

Hyatt

Marriott

Priority Club

Hilton

Low Status

1 Meeting

(Silver)

Mid Status

$50,000 spend in a calendar year

(Gold)

3 Meetings (Platinum)

5 Meetings

(Gold)

1 Meeting

OR

20,000 base points in a calendar year

(Gold)

60,000 base points in a calendar year

(Gold)

High Status

$100,000 spend in a calendar year

(Platinum)

10 Meetings

(Diamond)

8 Meetings

(Platinum)

2 Meetings

OR

60,000 base points in a calendar year

(Platinum)

100,000 base points in a calendar year

(Diamond)

Marriott is unique in that they do not actually award elite status based on meetings, but elite qualifying nights instead. They award 10 elite qualifying nights per meeting, so instead of staying 50 nights to reach Gold, you could hold 5 meetings. The elite nights earned from meetings count on top of the elite nights you earn through normal stays as an individual, so this could be a really lucrative option if you’re looking to pad your points portfolio.

All things being equal, if you spend very little money on meetings you can earn elite status fastest with Marriott, where you will achieve Silver status after just one meeting of any value. Second to that would be Priority Club, since you get two bites at the apple: either 1 qualifying meeting or 20,000 base points gets you Gold status. However, Priority Club is the most restrictive in terms of what qualifies as a meeting (as I’ll describe in a later post).

If you spend a lot of money on meetings—by planning an expensive wedding or a large conference, for example—you will earn status fastest with Starwood, Priority Club, or Hilton. Although it’s uncommon for people who aren’t professional event planners to spend so much money at once, it’s possible to earn Starwood Platinum, Priority Club Platinum, or Hilton Diamond after a single very expensive meeting.

With Hilton and Priority Club, it’s all about the base points. You could earn Priority Club Gold by spending $6,667, but you would have to spend $60,000 at Hilton in order to earn Gold status. If you want to earn status by holding the fewest meetings possible and you aren’t spending at least $6K per meeting, your best bet will be Marriott (1 meeting), Priority Club (1 meeting), or Hyatt (3 meetings).

Sleeping Nights

Like earning elite status through individual stays, it’s important to pick one chain and stick with it. In order to choose the right chain, you also need to think about the number of meetings you have coming up, the amount of money you’ll be spending (or the amount of revenue generated by a room block), and whether or not you have sleeping rooms, which I will get to next week.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Shana Gainey

    Thanks for the info…do you line if weddings count as meetings? Thanks!

  • Shana Gainey

    *know* not line

  • jax

    Holy COW! You are revamping your site again??!!! What next? Are you going to give us a chance to get used to this layout first? Can’t keep up with you… holding on tight if not impatient for your next update!!

  • Anonymous

    ?? I haven’t revamped the site since I started blogging!

  • Bill

    Did I miss a change on Starwood card? The spend to get to gold used to be $30k

  • Jason

    Can a “meeting” be set up a low cost just to earn credit toward elite status? If so, what is the minimum cost (without blocking rooms)?

  • PointsFan952

    I love how every post has a credit card app link above AND below each article now. TPG, you should remember why credit cards are destructive to many people.

    Why don’t you post when you get a referral, like many of your other blogger friends?

  • Eddie

    Hey PointsFan952,

    TPG has explained this quite a bit to others already. Check this out for disclosure info.
    http://thepointsguy.com/credit-cards/disclosure/

    Besides, wouldn’t you assume that giant banner ad means he’s getting a commission?

    As for credit cards being destructive- well, yes, they can be. If you’ve read other TPG articles you’ll see that he tends to almost always mention NOT carrying a balance to avoid the destructive nature of the cards. If you follow some basic financial advice you should be ok in the credit card game.

  • Mooper

    Getting the Chase Visa Premier Marriott card first will cut it down to seven meetings (or six, plus 5 nights stayed), while earning a 70K point signup bonus and earning you an extra 5 MRPs/$ spent on your meetings, nights.

  • Max Bloom

    Hi Jason,

    Assuming the meeting “qualifies,” then yes, the meeting can be of any value. This is easiest with Starwood and Marriott, since their qualification criteria are lax. As for the minimum cost for say, renting a boardroom for a few hours, that totally depends on the property. At a cheap property like a Courtyard by Marriott in an area without a lot of business travel, it could be as little as $100 or so. The easiest way to find out is to just call a property and ask.

  • Max Bloom

    Weddings generally do count as meetings if the wedding is taking place at the hotel. You can see a more detailed discussion of the issue in my first post: http://thepointsguy.com/2012/02/how-to-earn-hotel-points-with-meetings/

  • Max Bloom

    The spend referenced in the post is the amount you need to spend on meetings in order to reach a certain level of status. Earning through credit card spend is separate, and the two don’t overlap.

  • Max Bloom

    Great point. As I’ll talk about in some future posts, Marriott also tends to run promos where they award extra points for meeting paid with a Visa, so you could earn a total of something like 14 points per dollar on meeting spend by using their branded credit card.

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