Reading this as you probably are, sat in the UK with no prospect of a hotel leisure stay until mid May, you have probably already assumed that your hotel status will be rolled over into 2022.
I wouldn’t count on it.
Over in the United States, hotel occupancy is back with a vengeance. For the week to 20th March, hotel occupancy was back to 85% of its 2019 level. You can see the numbers here.
2019 was, of course, a record year. Whilst I don’t have the data, I would expect March 2021 US hotel occupancy to be as strong as it was in 2016/17, albeit weaker than 2018 and 2019.
Hotels are not selling at bombed out rates either. As you can see, the average rate charged was 81% of what was achieved in 2019 – which, as a reminder, was a record year.
The point of showing you these numbers is that the United States is the tail that wags the hotel loyalty dog.
Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt are US companies. IHG, whilst technically British, is primarily run from Atlanta. Accor is the outlier, being French. Radisson has an odd corporate structure with US and non-US businessses operating relatively independently under the ultimate Chinese ownership of Jin Jiang.
Not only are these chains primarily run from the US, but – except for Accor – the US remains their dominant market. The vast majority of hotel loyalty programme members are in the United States.
I can imagine that some of the brands are already concerned about ‘elite inflation’ in the US for 2022.
IHG Rewards, for example, has reduced the qualification requirements for elite status by 25% for 2022. With occupancy only down 15% – and that gap will continue to narrow – it is a mathematical certainty that the number of US elite members will increase.
Similarly, Marriott Bonvoy is offering double elite night credits on stays until the end of April. With the number of stays in the US only down 15% on 2019 levels, the number of elite nights credited is clearly going to be up massively – and this will inflate the number of elite members in 2022.
The question you need to ask, therefore, is will the hotel programmes roll over status into 2022 globally purely to save European members? Given that Europe is a bit of a rounding error for the big hotel loyalty schemes, I wouldn’t put money on it. Rolling over all 2021 elites when their core US market is approaching 2019’s record occupancy levels doesn’t make sense.
I’m not saying it won’t happen.
Perhaps we will see some sort of targetted promotion or rollover for European members?
Perhaps the people currently filling US hotels are the ‘wrong’ sort of people – ie leisure travellers? The big chains may need to do a rollover to retain their corporate guests who are still not travelling and who tend to spend more when they do stay.
The point I want to make is that if you think it is a slam dunk that your hotel statuses will be rolled over into 2022, based on the current dire situation in Europe, I would think again.
PS. This doesn’t apply to airlines, of course, where elite members tend to be concentrated in the home country. It is still more likely than not that British Airways will be forced into more status extensions. With the best will in the world it is hard to see business travel picking up until after the Summer holidays, and it will be a long time before many have knocked up the five long-haul Club World flights needed to earn or retain BA Gold.
Hotel offers update – May 2021:
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