Rumors about the new combined Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards programs broke recently. The program appears to have gone the same direction as Hyatt by ditching benefits for those who spend one, but not two or more, months at their properties.
While any program wants to reward its best customers, I fail to understand why loyalty programs have decided to entirely throw leisure travelers to the curb. However, I realized something today: the SPG and Marriott Rewards changes make me want to hold on to my American Express Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve cards.
Let Me Explain…
I took a look at my hotel nights since Jan 1, 2017 (exempting those from the Marriott Platinum Challenge). They break down as follows:
- 6 SPG/Marriott Full Service Nights
- 10 SPG/Marriott Villa Nights
- 2 SPG/Marriott Limited Service Nights
- 9 Hyatt Full-Service Nights
- 31 AirBnb Nights
- 9 IHG Limited Service Nights
- 5 Hyatt Limited Service Nights
- 10 Independent Hotel Nights
- 7 EVR Nights
- 2 Hilton Full Service Nights
My first thought was “Holy Crap! We do a lot of travel!” To be transparent, 10 were duplicate hotel rooms for extended family visits and 35 were for Camp Mom South America. Still, that’s a lot of travel for fifteen months. Add yours up: you might be surprised at how much you do as well.
Of the 91 hotel nights listed, only nineteen were at full service properties. Of those nineteen, I utilized loyalty benefits at the Westin Maui, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay, Hyatt Pier 66, Westin National Harbor, Hyatt Coral Gables, and Hotel EMC2. Those six stays, totaling thirteen nights, featured a full breakfast or club benefit utilized through the program. The other full service stays featured a nominal benefit such as $20 to spend on a carry-out breakfast. I don’t count those in my calculation. Only the Hyatt Coral Gables gave us a junior suite, the others gave me either a better view or no upgrade at all. Averaging a $30 breakfast (times 2 people times 13 nights), I value my utilization of hotel benefits at $780.
For this year the math made sense: Marriott Platinum Challenge costs totaled $476.
Next year I see fewer shortcuts to high level status. We’ve beaten Hyatt to death but suffice to say Guest of Honor benefits will come fewer and farther between going forward. The Hilton Surpass spend to Diamond is a possibility, but as you can see above we rarely stay at Hilton. That could change, but my guess is that any spend pattern transitions will be towards vacation rentals and away from hotels in general.
What does any of this have to do with Amex Plat or CSR?
I referenced in the title that American Express Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve just rose higher in my rankings. The reason lies in my usage of high level hotel benefits. I have seen the most value from free breakfast and view upgrades at resort or high-end properties.
I realized with our recent stay at Aria in Las Vegas that I could replicate Hyatt Globalist benefits by booking via the Chase Luxury Hotel collection or American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts portals.
With lowly Hyatt Discoverist status, but by booking through Chase, I received a view upgrade, early check in and late check out, and full breakfast for two. We also received $100 resort credit.
I had recently cancelled my American Express Business Platinum card. Deal Dad still has his, but I was going to cancel it. Now I am reconsidering my math.
How do the proposed SPG and Marriott Rewards changes affect your hotel strategy going forward? I’m curious to see your thoughts in the comments.