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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 – December 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 is currently a special offer running with Hilton Honors (100% bonus to 7th December), Marriott Bonvoy (45% bonus to 8th December) and World of Hyatt (30% discount, equivalent to a 43% bonus, to 30th December).

Comments (96)

  • Mike says:

    Oh no that bloke who is a hotel.com GOLD is going to heartbroken

  • Laura says:

    Honestly, my experience last year of trying to get a refund from Expedia for a flight was so terrible that I wouldn’t use any of their brands again. Just not worth the hassle.

    I’ve also found that most hotels are cheaper booked directly, or offer other perks for booking directly, such as breakfast. More dramatically, I think you can only use the pool and gym at The Ned if you book direct and you can’t if booked through a third party.

    I know this will be a loss for a lot of people but I’ve not really for me

    • Alan says:

      Agree, their CS is woeful – I had to escalate my complaint to SVP level in the USA before it finally got resolved.

    • AL says:

      The reception staff have told me this previously. The rule is, or was earlier this week when I stayed, that residents have access – no mentions of booking direct or otherwise. A swift word with reception usually resolves it…

    • John says:

      I’ve found the opposite. All my stays this year and last were the same price, or cheaper, on hotels.com compared to directly.

      If they’re the same price, then I still get 9% back via hotels.com

      I don’t know about perks. If I want breakfast I book a breakfast rate. I don’t see why a hotel which offers a non-breakfast and breakfast rate when booking directly, would decide to give breakfast to people who didn’t book it (other than for service recovery etc)

      • Laura says:

        This was a small hotel I stayed in Bournemouth that I had that experience. All nights booked directly included breakfast, 3rd party bookings got charged extra.

        A place in Prague that I stayed gave me a 15% discount code for return visits and told me to pass it on to family and friends too, rather than booking elsewhere.

        Some of the smaller chains in London seems to have ‘member’ rates too, which usually just involves creating an account on the website and gives a discount on prices.

        Maybe it’s because I’m at the cheaper end of hotels. Rarely spend over £75/night and don’t have status anywhere.

        • John says:

          Interesting. My hotels are also at the cheaper end. I usually choose hotels with the “hotels.com secret price” which can be 10% or 20% cheaper than the hotel’s own website and booking.com.

          I would have thought higher-end hotels would be happy to chuck in extra benefits. If you pay £200 a night £30-£40 of that would go to hotels.com and the hotel could certainly do free breakfast for that

  • Ron says:

    I’ve also found ebookers bonus+ more valuable than hotels.com reward scheme. Used to get two airport lounge passes as platinum member every year and able to give them to my friends/ family to use as well.

  • IHGNowSucks says:

    Nnnnoooo….. Hotels.com will be sorely missed.
    It was my go-to after the main chains.
    The other Expedia sites are rubbish (the sites, not just the loyalty program) and I’m more likely to end up on a non-Expexia owned site now if Hotels.com gets ruined.

  • Joe says:

    Seems to a bit of a run on the bank – anyone tried searching the h.com website today, its all garbage at the moment for me. Clicking on any hotel just takes me back to the home screen.

  • John says:

    Ebookers rewards is far from a dud and is more valuable to me than hotels.com. why? You can easily get a 10-15% discount code and still earn the rewards. Use a code with hotels.com and you don’t get stay credit. Unless booking a chain hotel you are far better off with ebookers.

  • Yorkieflyer says:

    I think the key behind folks choice here may be who’s paying…

    • Fiona says:

      Agree
      I am just a leisure traveller. Always researched it to death and often hotels.com had the best rate regardless of the loyalty scheme.
      Will miss it but will continue to research!

    • BJ says:

      Who’s paying is irrelevant, ebookers still returns 10%+ hard cash that can then be used with further potential rebates on anything money can buy, not 10%- hotels com only credit.

  • Nick says:

    I guess Expedia reckons they’ve sewn up the market enough with their various brands that they no longer need to differentiate. And they probably have too, it’s incredible how many people use their sites to book hotels. A lot of the time they have ‘price parity’ clauses that mean the chains can’t sell cheaper direct either. Will be interesting to see if any of the chains react… or if (longer term) the competition authorities take an interest.

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