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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)

  • Peter says:

    Lol you realise they have been the same company for years now, having almost always the same prices on all their websites. Cheaptickets is usually cheaper than hotels.com anyway with permanent 15% off coupons, so why would anyone be using hotels.com anyway?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      because for those that can book their own business travel its a genuinely free stay?

      Even if it’s your own business you were probably better off paying slightly more and taking the TaCoBell + hotel.com credits with the tax relief than a money off coupon.

      • AL says:

        > because for those that can book their own business travel its a genuinely free stay?

        This is my motivation for doing it, so long as the hotel I’m staying in isn’t a big chain that I already hold status at. I’ve had some great free nights on H.com rewards in the past.

  • r* says:

    Imo Ebookers was generally always better than hotels.com until recently for non chain bookings. There was always an 8 to 12pc discount code and then 8 to 10pc backcash would stack (backcash no longer is given even if its shown as available on the backcash site) and then the small bit of bonus plus on top.

    Hotels seemed to have less frequent discount codes and backcash was 1pc when rewards was used. You were basically losing about 20pc discount on ebookers to get 10pc of hotels.com booking value in rewards

  • BJ says:

    20% off hotels com today only for those who like to shop around.

  • John says:

    One feature of hotels.com that I like is the ability to prepay 99% of hotels (even in flexible rates) in any currency at a close to interbank rate.

    It has been quite useful for me when I needed to charge in one currency and pay in another, using a card from a 3rd currency, with none of these being the hotel’s currency.

    • John says:

      Submitted too soon… Was going to add, if this feature remains, I would happily continue to use hotels.com with a poorer loyalty scheme, although I need to investigate ebookers now that others have mentioned it

      • BJ says:

        Ebookers works well I think when you use it just to hit platinum which is easy. Having banked that it is then back to ebookers versus everybody else on a stay by stay basis for independent non chain bookings because loyalty, whether hotels com or another, simply doesn’t pay. For example, even though I’m ebookers platinum I’d definitely be using the 20% offer I just posted for hotels com provided their rates were competitive.

  • Iain Webster says:

    Good news for hotels.com with their over generous program, but sad news for us users who long ago cottoned on to the best rewards in the sector. Oh well…..

  • His Holyness says:

    How about another perspective with context to the PM’s speech at the UN.

    We need to do more to deal with climate change. Travel is for the most part entirely unnecessary. Firms are reducing the incentive to travel as often, look at loyalty programmes. People will fly to see their family no matter for FFPs and business people will still go to important meetings even if Gold is meaningless.

    The message is clear, travel less often, but spend more especially due to environmental taxes and higher wages.

    • Dubious says:

      There are a lot of things people do in life that are unnecessary…not just travel…and many of those things have a far worse environmental impacts. I don’t hear any UK politicians pushing the population to switch to a 100% vegetarian or vegan diet.

    • BJ says:

      Why didn’t the PM use a video link?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Right … yet the plonker is the first to fly half way across the world for fancy dinners and a stay in a nice hotel.

    • Callum says:

      While I agree it should be used much more often, I’m always amazed at the number of people who seem to genuinely think a video call is equally as effective communication as an in person meeting.

      Why would you ever visit friends or family in person if that’s the case? If you’re just transmitting information it’s great, but you’ll find it hard to convince me that relationship building and negotiating is just as good!

  • Doug says:

    Just a heads-up, I booked a room using the app recently and the check-out page didn’t have options for twin / double bed, but the hotel received my reservation as a twin, it happens almost every time, but I don’t think you can work around it unless you use a PC

  • Ryan Gill says:

    Ebookers 12% code didn’t work when I wanted to use it on a Dubai hotel. First time I’ve tried using them after the considerable “thumbs up” heard here.

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