Welcome Rewards relaunches as Hotels.com Rewards – what has changed?

Hotels.com relaunched its Welcome Rewards loyalty scheme as Hotels.com Rewards yesterday.

You can see the new home page for the programme here.

I am a big fan of Hotels.com Rewards / Welcome Rewards as I wrote in this article.  It is a very simple scheme:

you get a free night for every 10 nights you book via Hotels.com

the value of your free night is the average price you paid for the 10 nights

as long as you stay one night every 12 months, your accumulated count of nights does not expire

The downside of booking via Hotels.com is that you will not receive loyalty points, stay credit or – in most cases – status benefits at the hotels where you stay.

However, if your job involves staying at random hotels with no clear preferred chain, you may find Hotels.com Rewards works better for you.  Even if you spend 80% of your nights with, say, Hilton and have status with them you may still find it worthwhile booking the other 20% of your rooms via Hotels.com.

Hotels com rewards 2

What has changed from Welcome Rewards?

‘Not much’, it seems.  Which is good news.

You will still receive one free night for every 10 nights.  That part of the programme is untouched.

Similarly, the two status levels – Silver (10 nights in a year) and Gold (30 nights in a year) are unchanged.  These do not come with any real benefits, however, except for improved customer service if things go wrong.

The key addition is ‘Your Secret Price’.

‘Your Secret Price’ appears to be the outcome of price fixing investigations launched in recent years by the EU against hotel chains.  In simple terms, Hotels.com IS now able to undercut the price charged online by major chains without being punished by them.

However, you MUST be a Hotels.com Rewards member or a registered (and logged in) Hotels.com user to see these prices.  This allows the hotel companies to avoid having to pay out on their Best Rate Guarantee programmes as these rates will not technically be available to everyone.

Don’t get too excited though.  So far there seem to be very few ‘secret prices’ available.  A search for a random date in London in mid June found only a handful of properties and these were all independents, not part of large chains.  The number of four-star and five-star hotels in London with a ‘secret price’ was, erm, 1.

That seems to be it.  For once, a hotel loyalty programme makes changes and nothing bad happens!

(Want to earn more hotel points?  To see our complete list of promotions from the major chains, click here to visit our ‘Hotel Promos’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Peaceful Waters says:

    Huuuuge sigh of relief!

  2. Well done hotels.com. They were the best loyalty scheme for me anyway, and now they’ve shown the others that you can change without ‘ enhancing ‘ away value.

  3. Richard Johnson says:

    Thank goodness, all that research they did must have paid off!

  4. I used hotels.com for all my hotel bookings for this years holiday but have since joined IHG. I have been looking at the IHG site for hotels in the USA for next year. If you book a reward night do you have to pay separate taxes in cash or are the taxes included in the reward points? It doesn’t show additional taxes in the “view rates” breakdown.

  5. Chris says:

    There is a 10% off code kicking about on vouchercodes just now for hotels.com.

    Not sure what restrictions there are on it but hopefully it will be of use to someone.

    It’s refreshing to see something change without it being devalued to hell.

    • These codes often stop you earning Welcome Rewards / Hotels.com Rewards credit so be careful.

      • Chris says:

        Ah, sorry didn’t know that. Perhaps not such a good idea after all. Sorry!

    • 10% off is what you get anyway, so you might as well use it even if it doesn’t count for anything

  6. DW201 says:

    discounts off hotels.com are useless Ive found. Only includes ’boutique’ hotels and no big chains.

    Im constantly getting spammed with 50% off, €100 off etc and have never managed to use one….

    • Maybe I was (un)lucky, the Grand Mercure Bangkok is indeed 50% cheaper than advertised on Accor (£125 vs £250) for my upcoming trip, and I found it out after having booked another hotel..

  7. Stayed at the Doubletree in Leeds on Sunday as a reward night, still had to pay £16 in taxes for the room, just £1 more than they charge for parking!

    • Roger says:

      ‘Stayed at the Doubletree in Leeds on Sunday as a reward night, still had to pay £16 in taxes for the room …’ That looks like a mistake and is worthwhile challenging, I think.

      My DoubleTree award stays in New York (Times Square) and Cape Town – 3 separate stays each – had 0% tax added. I can’t see that UK VAT would be different. 20% of £0 should be £0, and UK rates should include VAT anyway.

      • Just had my monthly statement emailed to me – at the bottom were the T&C’s as follows:
        ¹Free night does not include taxes and fees. You may pay the difference if you choose a room that costs more. You are responsible for paying for taxes, fees, meals, incidentals and any other costs associated with the booking or stay. And you cannot use any balance from free night credit to pay taxes, fees, meals, incidentals or any other costs. ²Bookings made on a property where the customer pays the hotel directly, package bookings, bookings made using a non-zero dollar coupon or discount code and other certain bookings do not qualify toward the ten (10) nights.

      • DW201 says:

        I tried to redeem my 1st ever free night for a hotel in Seoul (im hoarding them for a travelling trip) and it was asking for £20 of tax on a £110 room….

        I didn’t get around to booking.

        Cheers

        D.

    • How odd. I tend to use my “free nights” as a discount against a more expensive room rate (e.g. use a £80 “free night” as a discount against a £100 booking), so perhaps that is why I’ve never suffered this “tax” i.e. because the £20 cash I’m paying covers this sort of thing.

      It is still the best loyalty scheme around for me – the range of hotels, flexibility and availability are infinitely greater than with any chain-specific schemes and these are ultimately the most important factors when booking hotels. A box of chocolates and an upgrade is nice, but not at the cost of booking the best, most convenient hotel. The value of Welcome Rewards is stable, understandable, uniform, and not significantly worse than the standard loyalty rewards offered by the other schemes (e.g. I discovered to my cost that the Club Carlson triple points offer does not work on points+cash bookings, even though they are Eligible Stays under their general T&Cs and earn standard points). I’ve been a bit hoodwinked I think with top tier status at some chains, and end up booking them because of some non-guaranteed benefits. I think I’ll go back to using Hotels.com in future.

  8. Today I managed to change a 3-day non-refundable booking on hotels.com to one day for free via customer service although I’m only a silver member. Thanks for the HFPers who previous mentioned this benefit for gold members! And hotels.com you are great!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Welcome Rewards relaunches as Hotels.com Rewards – what has changed? by Head For Points. Sometimes no real changes is good, you’ll still earn 1 free night for every 10. The other difference is their secret price, which basically just allows them to undercut without chains having to dish out best rate guarantees. I’m a Hotels.com fanboy – these changes don’t excite me but I’m just happy they didn’t gut the program. Add in 8% + other discounts from portals and it’s pretty damn good if you don’t care about status, upgrades and hotel points. […]