Maximizing Hotel Elite Status By Planning Meetings
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.
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.
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.
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.
$50,000 spend in a calendar year
3 Meetings (Platinum)
20,000 base points in a calendar year
60,000 base points in a calendar year
$100,000 spend in a calendar year
60,000 base points in a calendar year
100,000 base points in a calendar year
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).
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.