You might wonder why I’m bothering to write this post in late February. While I’ve always written this blog with you, the reader in mind, I do use this as a place to keep track of things. I like to look back and see if my travel ended up the way it did. I reviewed my airline elite status earlier this year, and now it’s time to take a look back at my 2019 hotel elite status achievements. As a business traveler, I value elite status. It provides me two key benefits for hotel stays. First, the points and status are very valuable for when I’m not playing road warrior. All that time away from my family can be tough. But, getting to enjoy a great vacation with that elite status and those points I earn certainly helps make a difference. Second, as a business traveler, elite status provides me with perks that just make it easier to be on the road. I don’t care about massive suites when I’m traveling for business. I care about a quiet, clean room. Free breakfast is a plus to save money. And, the flexibility to make changes on the fly also saves me time and money. That’s why I continue to focus on hotel elite status.
Here’s a look at each chain I achieved status with and a look at 2020:
World of Hyatt
No need to leave you guys in suspense. 2019 was a heavy year of Hyatt for me.
Looks like I broke the meter! I topped out at 102 nights with Hyatt last year, with some help from credit card spending. The ability to put some spending on a Hyatt credit card to achieve elite status is a really nice perk. That spending helped me earn the milestone bonuses of 10,000 bonus points for 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights. I have lifetime Globalist status with Hyatt, so I don’t need to spend this many nights with them. So, why so much time at Hyatt? Easy, they take great care of me. I frequently get upgraded while I’m on the road for business travel. And, they’re generally willing to work with me on the thing I value most for family travel, connecting rooms confirmed ahead of time. Most of the time that’s using a Globalist suite upgrade at time of booking, the single most valuable benefit in hotel loyalty. This is a net increase of 40 nights for me from 2018 to 2019. Some of that was spending, other was actual nights. I wonder which hotel chain saw a corresponding reduction in the number of nights I spent……
Oh, hi there, Marriott. Sorry about the drop in numbers….
I had 100 nights with Marriott in 2018. That dropped by 64 nights in 2019. 15 of those were from the credit cards I hold, which I may decide to reduce in 2020 by at least one. I had one lovely stay on points in Lisbon that I need to write up. And, I had a total of 10 paid nights. 5 of those were for conferences at Marriott hotels, which means I chose Marriott for a grand total of 5 nights across the entire year. I do have the highest level of lifetime status Marriott offers, so racking up nights with Marriott is less important from that standpoint. And, finally, Marriott’s equivalent to Hyatt’s Globalist suite upgrades pale in comparison. I started the year with 10 “Suite Night Awards”. You can see how many I ended it with:
I don’t have a paid Marriott stay yet in 2020. I suspect that will be a trend throughout the year, and that’s due mostly to another change…..
It was a busy Hilton year….
To be clear, I didn’t stay 157 nights with Hilton. I’d be divorced if I did. But, one of the companies I manage required us to have employees stationed near one of our locations. We negotiated a rate with a local Hilton property, and they were willing to slap my Hilton number on the reservations. I went from very little progress on Hilton lifetime status to 20% of the way there. 2020 will see more of the same for the first few months of the year. That may mean/likely means a bit of a shift going forward. More on that in a bit.
Overall, I like the Hilton Honors program but don’t have enough experience with it to accurately assess how much value a business traveler might find in it. I like having a stash of Hilton points for some strategic bookings, like the Good Neighbor hotels at Disney World in a pinch.
And, when I saw the milestone bonuses Hilton gives out for hitting certain stay thresholds, it made sense to put some more of my own stays with Hilton.
IHG Rewards Club
While I had Spire Elite status in 2019, I had virtually no stays (exactly 1) in 2019 with IHG:
That’s pretty much par for the course. IHG is a chain I find useful for random stays when we visit family. But, I don’t see meaningful value in their elite status, so I don’t book business travel with the chain.
Looking Ahead to 2020
I guess I can’t say looking ahead since it’s already late February. As you can imagine, Hyatt will be a big part of 2020 from a hotel loyalty standpoint for me. I’m already at almost 20 nights for the year. I’m fortunate enough to have lifetime Globalist status with Hyatt and lifetime Titanium Elite status with Marriott. I never thought I’d pursue lifetime status with another hotel chain, but the last year has me considering one more challenge. I should end 2020 about 30% of the way to lifetime Hilton Diamond status (I need 1000 nights). As a backup chain to Hyatt, I could see a stretch goal of 50 nights per year with Hilton. When I started considering this a month or so ago, I really thought that would be a stretch. But, as I amass more Hilton points from my own stays, I imagine that I’ll also have some award stays. Those count towards lifetime status, which makes 50 nights a real possibility for me. Now, that’s still something like 15 years worth of stays to get there. But, that’s not out of the realm of possibility now. And, having a third chain with valuable lifetime elite benefits is appealing. I was just discussing how valuable those benefits can be on my podcast.
With Hyatt as my primary chain and Hilton as my backup, I imagine the Marriott numbers will get smaller in 2020. That seems to be the right fit for me, at least for the moment.
What are you doing for hotel elite status in 2020?
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