Have you ever dreamed of luxury travel, but prices kept you away? Have you ever taken into account the possibility of getting attached to a loyalty program and reaping the benefits for a luxury vacation?
Loyalty programs are structured marketing strategies designed by merchants to encourage customers to continue to shop at or use the services of businesses associated with each program. Such programs are existent in most types of commerce, each one having different set of features and rewards-schemes. The idea of this article is to make everybody conversant with what loyalty programs are and how they can help you get the best deal for your money.
We are going to focus on the categories of Loyalty Programs which offer a world of luxury during travel. In this, we have two major categories of loyalty programs viz. Hotel & Aviation. Below is a list of Aviation & Hotel Loyalty Programs. The list is by no means exhaustive but covers some of the biggest loyalty programs which you can make use of in some way on almost every trip.
Star Alliance – Star Alliance has long been the biggest Global Aviation Alliances with 26 different airline partners. With its huge alliance airline base, one could literally fly to any destination in the world through their network.
Sky Team – Again a huge alliance of 20 different airlines helps cover close to 175 countries through the Airline partners under this alliance.
One World Alliance – Last of the top three major global aviation alliances covers 17 full airline partners.
So, what do these Airline Partner numbers mean? These numbers basically represent the Number of different airlines that are linked up together in a since alliance or loyalty program.
How does the size of the alliance help me? Bigger the alliance, more the destinations covered under the same alliance. This helps the Loyalty Program member accumulate points / miles with each of these airlines and combine later for upgrade, free flights etc.
Air Canada is expected to start their own Loyalty Program Aeroplan in 2020 which is speculated to comprise of 20 different Airlines. We will keep you updated as and when this is officially declared.
Make the most of your official & business travels through these alliances and get free tickets or free upgrades during your personal travel. Apart from these Global Aviation Alliances, many airlines (May or may not be a part of the Global Alliances) have their own loyalty programs. If your personal or business needs require you to travel a certain sector regularly, you should consider choosing and sticking to an airline in this region which offers the best loyalty rewards or class upgrades.
Global Hotel Loyalty Programs:
Marriott Bonvoy – Over 7000 Hotels across the globe, ranging to Mid-Range to Ultra-Luxury Hotels, makes it the biggest Global Hotel Loyalty program. We just published a detailed overview of the Marriott Bonvoy Program. Check it out over here.
Hilton Honors – 5600+ Hotels & 18 different brands with some of the most upscale brands likes Conrad & Waldorf Astoria makes it one of the most desirable Loyalty programs amongst the luxury travelers.
IHG Rewards – While IHG group has 4900+ Hotels over 14 different brands under this program, these hotels are preferred majorly for the business travel. IHG rewards does not have as many diverse brands as the likes of Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors Program.
Accor Plus – Another one of the big loyalty programs which can boast of several brands from budget to luxury across 95 countries is Accor Plus. With 4200 Hotels & brands like Sofitel, Pullman, Novotel etc., this is another Loyalty Program that a member can try to stick to while travelling across multiple countries.
A special mention to the 5th Night Free offer for booking hotels through points on Marriott Bonvoy & Hilton Honors program.
These loyalty programs do not just reward you on your stay at hotel of flying with them, but also let your earn points on a lot of other aspects like tie-ups with car rentals, radio Taxis etc. Some of these loyalty programs even allow you to buy points which can be used in various ways like free upgrade, free flights or free stay.
In due course of time, we will publish a detailed overview of each of these Loyalty programs explaining the different tiers, benefits etc of each of these programs. With annual offers such as 50% or 100% extra points, buying miles / points or converting credit card reward points to miles / points of these Loyalty programs can give an excellent return value.
Should you enrol for one of the Loyalty Programs or all?
Almost all the above-mentioned Loyalty Programs are free for registration. So go ahead and register to as many as you want. But our suggestion remains to try and stick with one Aviation & one hotel Loyalty program to maximise benefits.
There are even some credit cards that offer higher status of these loyalty programs. Keep a look out for these.