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The end of Hotels.com Rewards? Expedia Group to merge all of its loyalty schemes

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With unfortunate timing – given that we’ve run two articles on Hotels.com and Hotels.com Rewards in the past week – it seems that Hotels.com Rewards is going away.

This is, probably, going to be bad news.

Most people don’t realise that Hotels.com is part of Expedia Group. Other sister companies include Vrbo, Travelocity, eBookers and Orbitz.

Expedia Group to merge all of its loyalty schemes

Many of these brands have their own loyalty programmes. Expedia Group claims that, globally, it has 145 million members across its programmes, which puts it on the same level as the main hotel loyalty programmes.

The problem is that – apart from Hotels.com Rewards – these loyalty programmes are rubbish.

Who do you think is going to win out when the schemes are merged?

What do we know about the new Expedia Group loyalty programme?

According to Expedia Group:

customers can soon enjoy the most complete travel rewards offering in the industry. The program will consist of unique member pricing discounts and the ability to earn and redeem rewards across all Expedia Group brands, such as Expedia, Vrbo, Hotels.com, Travelocity, and Orbitz. The new program will span flights, hotels, vacation rentals, car rentals, cruises, and activities.”

Members will find that “their current rewards will be even more valuable, as they will gain access to the world of Expedia Group through one consolidated, easy to use program.”

Expedia Group to merge all of its loyalty schemes

Why am I doubtful about this plan?

There are a few structural reasons why this idea may struggle to gain traction and, specifically, why it may be bad news for Hotels.com and its loyal users.

The first is that, for years, Expedia Group has actively avoided telling people that it owns all of these brands. If customers are looking for a hotel and they only check Hotels.com, eBookers and Expedia, then Expedia Group wins either way. A combined loyalty scheme will make it clear that these companies are, effectively, the same.

Secondly, my view of Hotels.com is that it was specifically designed to appeal to customers who want rewards. It was always weird that you could book a hotel on Hotels.com and get 10% back in reward credit, whilst the same room booked on eBookers or Expedia got you very little. This strategy seemed to work though.

Thirdly, by being purely ‘hotel only’, it was easy for Hotels.com to strike partnerships with airlines. This may get trickier when Hotels.com customers are signed up for a loyalty programme which encourages you to book your flights with them too.

Fourthly, the money in travel is in hotel bookings. You can’t make any money off flights because airlines effectively stopped paying commissions years ago. This is why online platforms add fat fees to flight only bookings and/or try to force you into booking a hotel during the same transaction. How do you make a loyalty scheme which works well across both flight and hotel bookings?

Expedia Group to merge all of its loyalty schemes

Expedia Rewards and eBookers BONUS+ are duds

We reviewed Expedia Rewards here.

How good is it? Put it this way, you would need to spend £1,750 on hotels to get £25 back.  You’d need to spend £700 on flights to get just £1 back.

If this is the basis for the new combined programme, heaven help us.

We reviewed eBookers BONUS+ here.

Base members who book via the website get 3% back on hotels, 2% back on holidays and 1% back on flights.

Compared to the 10% you get back on hotel bookings via Hotel.com Rewards, these schemes are a joke. Whatever Expedia Group decides, I’m sure that the one thing it WON’T do is keep the rewards on hotel bookings at 10%.

What happens next?

Let’s wait and see. There is no timeline yet for the rollout of the new programme. More specifically, we have absolutely no idea what will happen to existing but unused Hotels.com Rewards free nights or ‘stamps’ earned towards future free nights.

On the upside, if you are an active member of Expedia Rewards or eBookers BONUS+ (but why?!) then I think you will end up better off than you are now.

You can read the full news release here.


Hotel offers update – October 2021:

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

Want to buy hotel points? There are currently special offers running with Hilton Honors (100% bonus to 7th December) and World of Hyatt (30% bonus to 31st October).

Comments (96)

  • Amy C says:

    Oh bugger. Nothing good ever lasts.

  • Magic Mike says:

    Whichever MBA genius at Expedia came up with that idea needs firing…

  • SydneySwan says:

    I have corrected the Expedia quote. Members will find that “their current rewards will be much less valuable, as they will gain access to the world of Expedia Group through one consolidated, hard to use program.”

    I am puzzled why they didn’t add ”Our users have told us that this is what they want’.

  • Dubious says:

    Well after the poor reputation Expedia group built for themselves over flight refunds / lack of call centre support* – they have to show their investors that they are doing something…

    (…*although to be fair in my case it was that they did cancel and refund the return leg of a flight that I wanted to use…having used the outbound)

  • Jonathan says:

    To be fair to ebookers they offer regular discount coupons & a decent return via the portals. Hotels.com is my first port of call when no decent chain offering & they get approx 15 nights/year.

    I always check ebookers as well & they usually get about 5 bookings/year when they are clearly cheaper. They’re probably within +/- 2% on most of the other nights when you factor in all the rebates.

    Expedia is never competitive.

  • CarpalTravel says:

    This is a terrible move.

    Whenever my wife and I have been looking at places to stay, the first thing I try and do is find it on Hotels.com, the reward nights have been a huge, and I truly mean, huge draw for me. Out of a choice of two places we will inevitably go with the one on Hotels.com. When travelling for business, again I will book via Hotels.com, it has been a no brainer for me.

    I know they are owned by Expedia and for occasional giggles used to compare prices between the two. The prices would usually be the same but without the rewards (as they amount to nothing with Expedia).

    Even at 6am, the folks at Booking.com must be popping champagne corks right now. They are infinitely more likely to see more business from me now and I’ll wager, a great many others.

  • ChrisC says:

    Always been happy with Expedia rewards.

    Most of.my bookings with them more recently were for attraction passes and the odd hotel when I wasn’t using IHG.

    And they came through unexpectedly last year refunding me a non refundable hotel because of the USA shut down.

    To be honest e bookers always looked a bit cheap and nasty (as in unreliable) to me and hotels . Com were more expensive every time I looked there compared to Expedia.

  • James says:

    Would disagree Rob, with Hotels.com you cannot use discount codes / vouchers and receive free night credits. With ebookers you can use a 12% discount code (current offer) and receive 5% rebate (app booking) instantly to use in next booking. If you use a voucher with Hotels.com you don’t get nights credited, and you need to wait 10 nights to get any benefit. Also ebookers loyalty program really helped me out last year in Greece, when a hotel I had booked turned out to be completely different to that advertised – calling ebookers they refunded my stay at the hotel and I booked somewhere else.

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