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What do you think of proposed changes to Hotels.com Rewards?

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Hotels.com is considering changes to the ‘free night for every 10 nights you stay’ benefit with Hotels.com Rewards.

The company recently asked selected members to answer a questionnaire on different reward options.  In general, the proposed options are worse than the current Hotels.com Rewards scheme.

(Yes, I know. Big surprise.)

Why do we like Hotels.com Rewards?

We rate Hotels.com Rewards highly.

It is a pleasingly simple scheme.  For every 10 nights you stay, you receive a free night.  The value of the free night is the average of the ex-tax price of those ten nights.

There is no time limit to how long it takes to earn your free night, as long as you do at least one stay in every 12 month period.

(If you are about to hit your 12 month anniversary without a stay, a booking at a £3 hostel somewhere in the developing world will usually credit and reset the timer.)

The only ‘snag’ is that you don’t get any change when you spend your free night, so you need to use it on a fairly expensive stay.  You will also not collect new Hotels.com Rewards credits on your reward stay.

Some Head for Points readers find Hotels.com Rewards BETTER than a standard hotel loyalty scheme.   Hotels.com has more hotels than every major hotel brand PUT TOGETHER.  You never have to compromise on location or hotel quality, as you often do if you are tied to Hilton, IHG etc.  You also get rewarded for ALL of your stays, even at independent unbranded properties.

The downside is that you don’t earn any hotel loyalty points or status benefits – no upgrades, no late check-out, no free breakfast – on your stays.

You can find out more about Hotels.com Rewards on its website here.

What do you think of proposed changes to Hotels.com Rewards?

What is Hotels.com Rewards planning?

The survey coverered a number of potential scenarios.  Respondents were shown two different options side by side, chosen at random, and asked which they preferred.  For example:

Sample scenario:

You no longer need to do 10 nights before you redeem.  Instead, each stay earns you a credit of 10% of the ex-tax value which you can redeem against your next stay.

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc.

Sample scenario:

Each stay earns you a credit of 7% of the ex-tax value

You can redeem at any point BUT you must have enough credit to cover the full cost of the stay

Credits can also be turned into Uber / Lyft credit or airport lounge passes

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc

Sample scenario:

Each stay earns you a credit of 7% of the ex-tax value

Silver members (7 nights in a year) receive 7.35% whilst Gold members (25 nights in a year) receive 7.7%

You can redeem at any point BUT you must have enough credit to cover at least 75% of the cost of the stay

Credits can also be used on Hotels.com partner sites such as Expedia and VRBO

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc

Sample scenario:

Each stay earns you a credit of 8% of the ex-tax value, with a selection of ‘top’ properties earning 16% credit

You can redeem at any point BUT you must have enough credit to cover 75% of the cost of the stay

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc

Sample scenario:

Each stay earns you a credit of 7% of the ex-tax value, with a selection of ‘top’ properties earning 14% credit

You can redeem at any point BUT you must have enough credit to cover at least 75% of the cost of the stay

Credits can also be turned into Uber / Lyft credit or airport lounge passes

Ability to use credits towards breakfast, upgrades, spa etc

Sample scenario:

Each night earns you 1 free night stamp

Get a free night when you have collected 12 stamps, with the night worth the average cost of the 12 nights

Alternatively, redeem 6 stamps for a free night credit worth 40% of the average cost of your six nights

I should add that the scenarios also involved tweaking the number of nights required for status in Hotels.com Rewards.  However, in general I do not find that people take Hotels.com Rewards elite status, or its benefits, seriously.

changes to Hotels.com Rewards

Are any of these scenarios positive for members?

Put it this way, none are a major improvement.

The first one – 10% credit after every stay, redeemable immediately, IS better than the current ‘free night after 10 stays’ because you can redeem your 10% straight away.  This removes the gamification element from the programme, however, so I don’t see why Hotels.com Rewards would do this.

The other scenarios effectively cut the reward benefit from 10% to something closer to 7%-8%.   The company tries to dress this up but, in effect, you are getting less back.

Of course, the devil is in the detail – if it dropped to 8% but a high proportion of hotels were classed as ‘top’ properties earning double credits, you would be better off.

You may also, personally, prefer a 7% cashback credit to use on your next stay versus a 10% return which only turns up after doing 10 nights.  There is a trend in loyalty today to offer returns faster driven by the assumption that millennials have the attention span of a gnat.

Hotels.com needs to be careful ….

There is something key that Hotels.com needs to remember

Whilst technically sister companies, Hotels.com and Expedia are, fundamentally, the same business.  In general, they sell the same hotels at the same prices.  The ONLY difference, apart from Expedia also offering flights, is that Hotels.com has a very generous reward programme.

Expedia, on the other hand, has Expedia Rewards which we reviewed here.  It isn’t great.

Expedia also owns eBookers.  We reviewed ebookers BONUS+ here.  Again, it isn’t great but it is better than Expedia Rewards as it offers airport lounge passes for regular bookers.

The bottom line is that the whole point of Hotels.com is that it offers a good loyalty scheme.  Without one, it might as well cease to exist as it would literally be a clone of Expedia and ebookers.  Any attempt to water down Hotels.com Rewards could be a mistake.

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

Comments (110)

  • ElectroGoblin says:

    Despite having status in a couple of programs, I use Hotels.com quite often, as my company won`t always allow to book on my preferred program (regardless of price they don’t like to payy for “big brands”, stupid, I know).

    Been Gold for a couple of years but never got an upgrade or managed to find a super special deal… so for me it means nothing, I’m afraid.

    If the scheme loses benefits, I’ll switch to whatever is better (if it exists).

    I don’t like the “you must have credit to cover xx% of the stay”, as I assume it will be done by nigth, and it will be a loss (if minimum is 100%) or limit the choices (if it is 75%).

  • Fenny says:

    I did the survey. I would far rather get a fixed reward, even if it is lower, than all the other offers. I don’t live somewhere where Lyft or Uber operate. I use Hotels.com maybe 3 or 4 times a year for small places where I want a couple of quiet nights and getting the credit towards a future stay makes them my go-to supplier. If they cut the rate to 7 or 8%, but gave longer to redeem, I’d stay. Otherwise. I’ll just find book with whoever is cheapest.

  • Gary Colclough says:

    The ones with the 75% requirements would be a deal breaker for me

  • Jon says:

    Don’t know whether I’d have got this anyway, but as Gold three times now I have either changed or cancelled a non-refundable booking.

  • Dubious says:

    Slightly OT – do you know if Hotels.com Rewards are extending expiry of existing credits given the COVID-19 sitaution? Mine are due to expire in 2 months time and I’m not sure how easy it will be to make a small booking during the current situation.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Still plenty of 1 person shared hostels around globally that are taking bookings.

      Lots of hostels have been open as they take in people who need temporary lodging etc

  • Dr. Cheryl Hall says:

    I have an earned reward at Hotels.com and can’t use it right now due to COVID19. My reward expires May 5. I tried to contact the site, but they insist on a booking number to answer questions and, of course, I don’t have one. Any suggestions on getting an extention? I wondered if the expiration related to the actual use date or a booking for future use. Thank you for any help

    • Rob says:

      I thought reward nights were extended as long as you had account activity? I am assuming you’ve done no stays with them since you triggered the night?

      In which case a £3 hostel booking in Delhi for tomorrow night would extend it by a year.