Sizing Up The First Hotel Promos Of 2014

I’ve written a detailed post about the Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, and Starwood promos slated for Q1 of 2014, but now that I’ve had a chance to step back, I figured it was worth comparing them to each other.  I think it’s important to judge these promos in light of the improving strength of the hotel industry.  None of these are “best of a generation” promo but there’s certainly value to be had here.

I’ve included a link to each full review and my general thoughts about each promo individually below, with a ranking at the end.

IHG Big Win:

Full review here.

Registration link here.

Most folks will get an offer between to earn between 70,000 and 100,000 points.  Of the promos announced so far, this one is the most likely to complete with a mattress run.  For mine, I would need to complete 2 stays for a total of 5 nights.  With the widespread coverage of IHG, I could certainly complete this promo for less than $100 a night, and I could certainly turn 70,000 points into more than $500 in value.  But, it would take some work and it’s highly  likely I wouldn’t get a whole vacation out of those points and I don’t keep an IHG balance.

This promo is certainly a good value for IHG loyalists of any level based on the ability to achieve multiple targets with one stay.


Hyatt Gold Passport Endless Possibilities:

Full review here.

Registration link here (no registration link yet).

Hyatt has taken some good pieces of previous promos and combined it into choices for members with Endless Possibilities.  Again, this isn’t as potent as past promos like Faster Free Nights, but Hyatt loyalists have a lot to be happy about here.

Members will be able to choose between free nights (up to 4 total free nights) or bonus points (up to 50,000 points).  That’s a truly solid value for members.  If you’re able to plan out a vacation to use the free nights by July, 2014 that’s certainly the best value, while others can choose points and bank them until they’re ready to go on a vacation.

I’m a Hyatt Homer TM but in terms of straight value regardless of hotel loyalty, I think this is the best of the bunch.


Marriott Rewards Mega Bonus:

Full review here.

Registration link here.

Mega Bonus is back for Marriott Rewards fans, which means free nights.  Just not that many of them.  You max out at 2 free night and, similar to Hyatt, the free nights are capped at category 4 properties.  Working through the list of category 4 properties for both chains, I prefer the Hyatt list.

Mega Bonus is good for Marriott loyalists, but capping at 2 nights means folks who have a bunch of Marriott stays either means not earning bonuses on some stays or splitting your business between two chains.


Starwood Preferred Guest Bring On The Nights:

Full review here.

Registration link here.

With all properties opting in, you can earn 2,500 bonus points for every 5 paid nights.  Plus, you can earn 5,000 bonus points if you cap out at 25 nights.  This promo is significantly weaker than the last promo Starwood ran, Take Two.  While Starpoints are the most valuable hotel currency, this promo strikes me as potentially the weakest amongst the four, since it takes 25 nights to earn 15,000 points.

Ranking The Promos

True loyalists of each program will most likely side with their promo.  But, all promos are not created equal.  In this batch, Hyatt ranks at the top for the choice between free nights and points.  Though its free nights are more expensive than Marriott (5 paid nights at Hyatt versus 2 at Marriott) the promo itself is much more rewarding by allowing members to earn up to 4 free nights or 50,000 points, whereas Marriott only allows members to earn 2 free nights.  And, I would value 50,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points higher than a 2-night stay at virtually any category 4 Marriott (and maybe all of them).

Marriott has the second strongest promo by virtue of the fact that you can earn your 2 free nights with only 4 total nights (2 stays earns a free room).  Marriott has more total places to redeem these free nights than Hyatt but the category 4 and below levels are not the properties I’m shooting for when I want to take a vacation.  But, free nights are always a strong value proposition, and Marriott gives you an affordable way to acquire 2.  If they allowed members to earn more than 2 free nights this might surpass Hyatt’s promo.  But, it doesn’t.

It’s strong than the IHG Big Win promo, though.  IHG requirements vary for different members, but I doubt anyone has a much lower threshold than what I received, 2 stays and 5 nights to earn roughly 70,000 points.  And, while 70,000 points can get you more than 2 nights when compared with the Hyatt promo, it requires more nights and more creativity to hit all the tiers.  Absent any specific loyalty to a brand, the IHG promo could be better than Marriott if you’re happier saving up points for a bigger vacation down the road as opposed to being forced to use the 2 free nights in a shorter time span.  Additionally, IHG will allow you to supplement an award night with some cash to lower the point requirements.  These can be a pretty good way to stretch your points out for a whole vacation.

Bringing up the rear, IMO, is Bring On The Nights by Starwood Preferred Guest.  Starwood is awarding 2,500 bonus points for every 5 nights (not stays).  So, this is an expensive proposition, essentially 500 bonus points per night but only if you achieve one of the 5-night milestones.  And, the bonus for the final 5 nights is only 2,500 points higher than lower tiers, where Hyatt’s final tier at 20 nights nets you 20,000 points.  Technically, maxing out this promo is more valuable than Marriott, in that you could get 2 free nights at a category 5 SPG property.  But, that would require 25 nights compared to only 4 nights with Marriott’s promo.  I like Starwood Preferred Guest’s loyalty program.  In fact, it’s my second favorite behind Hyatt.  But, this promo is a stinker when compared to it’s competitors.  It’s a nice plus if you’re already locked into SPG properties for the beginning of the year.  But, it can’t be called much more than that.

There you have it.  My two cents on the 4 promos announced so far.  I don’t think we’ll see something from Hilton for a while, as their current promo runs through the end of January.

What are your thoughts?  What do you think is the most rewarding promo of 2014?


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  1. I only stay at Hyatts, so I only feel qualified to judge its upcoming promotion. And I think it’s awesome. It’s easy to maximize for its intended audience (moderate to heavy travelers), and 50,000 reward points is very generous for just being loyal, I think.

    Being completely honest, I was planning on NOT staying at the Hyatt Regency Churchill during my next trip to London. I was planning on trying out The Landmark. But this promotion is basically swaying me to stay loyal. Both hotels in London are top class; they’re just very different styles. (The Churchill is contemporary, while The Landmark is old London.)

    And I think a promotion that gets a rebel like me* to switch travel plans to further loyalty is, by definition, well-designed.

    Just my opinion. Great posts, Ed.

    * In 2014, I am actively refusing to fly United and to participate in any domestic airline FF program. I’m taking as much of my domestic miles as possible to Emirates Skywards via Virgin America and Jet Blue. I’m done with the junk product that is american domestic airliners. I won’t be a slave to their ever-devaluing mileage programs and their ever-aging and crappy fleets and employees.

    1. David, if the current Hyatt promo is causing you to consider moving a couple stays, it’s definitely doing it’s job! It’s not as good as the previous iteration of FFN, where the free nights were good for any property, but I can do some damage with 50K points.

  2. With the IHG Big Win, my sister was offered 144,100. 4 nights, 2 brands, 2 HI properties, one survey, one resort ( I believe this will need 3 nights), one best flex rate with B’fast. All this will add up to 72,100. Then having completed all, she will get a further 72,000. Minimum will be 5 nights because of resort choice where we are needing 3 nights.

    My Big Win offer was 68,100. Ok I guess, but not a patch on the sister’s!

    The Hyatt offer appeals best to me.
    It is possible I may achieve Hyatt, IHG plus Marriott as well.

    1. Yvonne, if you hit Hyatt, IHG and Marriott, you’re officially traveling too much!

      144,000 is a nice chunk of points. I’d rank that above Marriott. Depending on the use, I could see 144,000 IHG points being worth more than 50,000 Hyatt GP points.

  3. All leisure here. I get if I’m lucky 2-5 business nights per year. Although that is growing.

    I plan to max out the Hyatt promo on points. The free nights being capped at cat 4 would just be mattress runs in that I go somewhere i don’t need to go just to get the hotel stay (call it the same whether i check in and leave or actually spend the night). Sure there is some value in Cat 4 Hyatts, but the points is the better option for me. Plus I feel it is as good as the better offers we see from Hyatt, so I’m not risking a lot by finishing Hyatt this quarter for the year (other 5 stays accounted for)

    1. Tenmoc, no doubt you can find some solid properties in Hyatt’s category 4. But, I’m with you. I’d rather turn the 50,000 points into a better option, like part of our upcoming vacation to Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. 🙂

  4. As you say, everybody’s take will be a little different. I agree that Hyatt’s is the best, and I’ll be maxing that one out first. My remaining stays though will go with Sheraton, simply because we like the Sheraton properties at our preferred vacation destinations, I like the business hotels in San Jose, and unlike this quarter’s promo, all hotels are participating. And hey, SPG points are hard to come by.

    1. Glenn, that’s the strategy I would use as well if I was done maxing out Hyatt points. SPG points are hard to manufacture, no doubt.

    2. Also, Glenn, I do appreciate that SPG has all properties participating. I just wish it was a bit more lucrative. But as a backup promo it makes sense.

  5. I’m a member of all four programs, but only elite on IHG (Platinum) and Mariott (Silver) – both because of their branded credit cards. For me, the most rewarding is the IHG Big Win. My qualification seems to be even easier than yours – just 2 stays and 4 nights (two Holiday Inn’s and two Saturdays – mix & match, and one must include breakfast), but for 95,800 points.

    I only did three nights (out of about 8 required) for the Big Win 4Q 2013, all leisure, but obtained upgrades to suites in all three cases. So it seems I’m in a low demand area. Considering incremental costs, the IHG Big Win 1Q 2014 is by far the best for me.

    Thank you for the analysis.

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