The Stigma Surrounding Hotel Loyalty Rewards Programs

Hotel loyalty rewards programs are increasingly common. To entice return travel, many leading hotel companies offer point accruals via free memberships to transient and business travelers alike. One can earn points by spending one night at the inn or spending $50,000 on a catered event. Redemption is offered in the form of free night stays, upgrades, and in some cases, airline miles.

But have you ever stopped to think about how these programs may affect the way meeting planners select sites for their meetings? It's become a biased way of doing business. Meeting planners will choose a venue not based on how best fit the proposal is into their budget or which site will offer the most comprehensive list of concessions, but rather by which company they maintain a rewards membership. When you're close to a free airline ticket and are about to purchase a flight for your trip, won't you try and choose the airline with whom you are close to an award ticket? Because of this "issue", the rights of many meeting planners to collect points on a meeting has been revoked. The points may go to "the boss" now and many meeting planners are forbidden from giving out their personal rewards numbers. In most cases only one person may collect and redeem points, so it does the company virtually no good to choose a site based on the status on one's membership with these programs.

Being the bargain shopper and point-collector myself, I don't blame meeting planners for wanting to pile on the points! This post is to serve as an "aha, interesting!" statement and I'm really not biased either way as to whether I think it's the right thing to do or rather, an OK thing to do. I get a kick out of my clients when they ask "when will I get my points?" and I respond with "as soon as you review the invoice I sent you!". 9 times out of 10 it results in an approved invoice within minutes. Certainly makes my job easier!

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