Chasing and obtaining status in the world of air travel and hotels can be a dangerous game. While registering for points can give you something for nothing, it often leaves you with points that you can’t redeem for anything because their value is too low.
Worse, if you put all your eggs in one basket you can often end up paying more for your flight or room because you focus on one provider. No point paying BA £200 for a flight when Ryanair will get you to the same destination for £40 – the Avios earned on BA have nowhere near the value of the extra cost.
That said, gaming it well can be a real winner. British Airways Avios combined with a BA American Express card and a phone call 355 days before your chosen flight can snag you long haul first class tickets for a dream journey for two for as much as £10,000 less than full fare.
My like of Hotels.com cuts through the provider loyalty issue. Book ten nights with them, get one free. It’s a relatively simple proposition that means I can spread my stays across Novotel, Holiday Inn, an independent B&B, Hilton etc and still benefit from a reward that has value. And earn TopCashback commission too.
I was excited to get an email this morning from Hotels saying that I now qualify for their Silver benefits. This sounds quite marvellous. After all, my BA Silver status got me lounge access pre flight and bonus Avios- and triggered a status match with Al Italia now issuing me their gold card. Hilton Gold gets a room upgrade and a free brekkie with each stay. IHG Gold gets me very little but was used in the status match that got me the Hilton Gold. A virtuous circle of rewards triggering more rewards. Stringy heaven!
So what does Hotels.com Silver mean to me?
Early access to special offers. I think this means I get their near spam emails two hours early.
Exclusive Silver hotline. This seems to mean I can ring them on a different phone number.
Hassle Free travel guarantee. I think this means I can ring the above number to moan if any of my bookings turn sour.
Double Free Nights offer on my next booking. Now you’re talking. If I book 7 nights with them I normally get 0.7 free nights. 1.4 free nights is more fun! A £700 booking will get me £140 of credit instead of £70. A Silver advantage to me of £70. Then there’s the catch. No TopCashback payable on such bookings. So I lose 8% on that booking. £56 of my gain gone, reducing the worth to just £14.
Now £14 is better than nothing, although on a shorter one night booking it would be just £2 only. And the other “benefits” are almost valueless. So while I’ll take what they offer, I’m a little less excited now than when I initially got that email.
If I get up to thirty nights stayed this year I’ll get Gold. That means I get those offer email even earlier. Woo!