The Poll Results Are In: Readers Share Their Favorite Hotel Loyalty Program
Following our latest TPG report on "The Best Hotel Loyalty Programs in the World," we asked readers to vote for their own favorite hotel rewards programs. It's always interesting to see how our data-based approach matches up with the experiences of actual hotel customers, especially frequent travelers like many of our readers.
We got plenty of feedback, with well over 1,500 votes and even some specifics about why you voted the way you did. So without further ado, here's how readers rank the hotel programs:
There are a lot of similarities between these poll results and our own study. Unsurprisingly, Starwood Preferred Guest came in first in both cases — the program has extremely valuable points and a terrific reputation amongst its customers. And at the moment while SPG remains separate from Marriott Rewards, members are in some cases getting the best of both worlds. As reader Paul John Grundy put it, "SPG was already unmatched. Now my SPG platinum is gifting me Marriott platinum as a backup. What more could you ask for?"
Speaking of Marriott, the chain's Marriott Rewards loyalty program came in second with readers. That's significantly higher than in our own report, which placed Marriott in the bottom half of the 10 hotels we studied. Marriott loyalists simply like the consistency of the program. As TPG reader Pat wrote, "Marriott has served me well over the years -- there's a hotel literally everywhere I want to go, points redemptions are usually available, [and] most of the hotels are either luxurious or very comfortable."
In third place with our readers is Hilton Honors, followed by World of Hyatt in fourth — our study also ranked that pair in third and fourth, just in reverse order. TPG reader Romie Morrett explained that "We opted for Hilton because it offers many great options from low end to high end. As a business traveler my fiancee earned Diamond status this year already and found that Hilton (no matter which brand within the group we choose to stay) is very responsive to upgrading." Meanwhile, reader Connor Walsh says, "For me personally, the Hyatt program offers me tremendous value. This year alone I've saved thousands and haven't had to sacrifice a stupid number of points to do so."
IHG Rewards comes in fifth with readers, just two spots above our own report. "I got good value from IHGs Accelerate program," wrote TPG reader civus. "By staying a few odd nights (some in inexpensive SE Asia [Holiday] Inn Express) and using my IHG card I added 53,000 [points] to my account. I’ll trade those in for a couple of nights at $200 hotels."
The largest drop between our own study and the poll is Wyndham Rewards, which placed second in our rankings but sixth with readers. While the program offers a unique value proposition since a free night can be redeemed for 15,000 points at any Wyndham property in the world, the quality of some of the chain's hotels gives some readers pause. "I just can't think of when I'd ever stay in a Wyndham hotel," wrote TPG reader Hippanonymous. But not everyone agreed with that sentiment. "There are some Wyndham properties that are decent places to stay," commented reader Clyn678. "I do not want to stay at the lower end hotels, but there are some Ramada hotels that are decent. Also you can use 15k points to book at a few all-inclusive resorts or at a Condo in certain locations, like Park City Utah."
LeClub Accor fell two places between the poll and the study, ending up in seventh, but the final three hotel programs — Best Western Rewards, Choice Privileges and Club Carlson — claimed the bottom three spots in both our report and with readers. However, even if a majority doesn't find value in those programs, that doesn't mean no one does. "I'm going to make an argument for the humble Choice Privileges program," wrote TPG reader Bill M. "If you enjoy road trips in addition to traveling by plane, SPG is a hassle. You're not going to find one of their brands in rural areas between cities when you're simply looking for a way to crash between point A and point B. You WILL find a Choice hotel, and you'll likely have your pick of brands."
"Picking a favorite program depends a lot on how you travel," he concludes. On that point, all of us can certainly agree.