Apart from being one of the most popular third-party hotel booking platforms globally, Hotels.com is widely noted for its valuable loyalty program.
In this post, we’ll delve into how the Hotels.com Rewards program works, some of the factors that have made it a huge success, and some improvements that could make it more attractive to customers.
How does the program work?
Hotels.com uses a very simple and easy-to-understand strategy for its rewards program. The company rewards its loyal customers with a free night for every ten nights they book and stay through its platform. In other words, members earn at least a 10% rebate on any eligible booking they make through Hotels.com. The rewards program is free to sign up for, and there are more than 500,000 properties that are eligible for free reward nights across the world.
Members should have gained ten nights’ worth of Hotels.com rewards Stamps to earn credits for a free night. The value of the credits gained is determined by the average amount spent booking ten nights. For instance, if you spent $3,000 overall for those ten bookings to earn a free night, you’ll receive a $300 credit.
Members can use their earned credits to redeem free nights to book any available hotel or room that the company has included in its rewards program (eligible properties). Eligible properties that can be booked with free credits range from premium properties and hotels to mid-scale hotels and apartments. While there is a wide range of hotels and apartments that allow you to earn Hotels.com reward stamps, some of them may not be eligible for free nights.
The rewards program also has a tiered structure that rewards loyal customers with additional perks for booking more nights on the platform.
Members upgrade to Silver status after booking 10 to 29 nights during their current membership year. This status is basically for all members who have been able to earn at least a free rewards night since they joined the program. The benefits enjoyed by Silver Status members include early access to sales, promotions, and deals, priority phone service, and a no-hassle travel guarantee, which reduces hotel charges and cancellation fees in case there is an issue with the booking.
Gold Status requires that members should have booked at least 30 nights within a membership year. The main benefits enjoyed by members of this tier include all the benefits enjoyed by Silver status members plus room upgrades at some VIP Access hotels, free breakfast, spa vouchers, and airport transfers at certain properties, among others.
What are the good things about the program?
One of the most obvious reasons behind the success of this rewards program is the amount of value it offers. For customers and business-oriented people who travel a lot within a year, the ability to earn free nights is certainly an incentive to encourage them to remain loyal to the brand and keep booking via the platform. While redeeming a free night, members can book a hotel of greater value and pay the difference. Again, they can redeem multiple free nights when booking a longer stay. For instance, if a member wants to book a 7-night stay and already has five free nights to redeem, they can use all their free nights for this booking and only pay for two nights with fees and taxes. Essentially, members can enjoy reduced costs on certain luxury bookings they would otherwise not enjoy by being part of this rewards program. Thus, most of its customers deem it valuable.
Power of Choice
There are many other great hotel loyalty programs, but what sets Hotels.com apart is the freedom it gives its members to make their preferred hotel choices. Unlike other brands who make it mandatory for loyalty program members to only redeem their rewards with their brand, Hotels.com gives its members the power to choose the best out of a host of more than a million hotels. In addition, members can earn reward stamps at several various locations worldwide once they book via the platform.
Mobile-Friendly, Flexible payment option
Another great feature of this rewards program is its mobile-friendly nature. Members can use the Hotels.com app to request their bookings, track their stamps, and redeem their rewards. Members who use the app to redeem their free nights do not have to pay redemption fees. Again, the platform allows members to make payments in their own currency. This feature is incredible because it enables them to avoid the heavy foreign taxes that come with using credit cards to settle payments in foreign currencies. Combined with a simple, well-explained program, the convenience of this loyalty program is something that retains loyal customers.
How could they have made the program more attractive?
Although this rewards program offers incredible value for its users, some features can be improved to make it more attractive to active and new users.
Truly Free Nights
While the platform’s main reward is giving out a free night for every ten nights a customer books, this reward is not actually free. This is because its value does not include taxes and fees, so members still have to pay taxes and fees even when they redeem a free night. Again, members have to pay a $5 redemption fee for each free night unless they are redeeming through the Hotels.com app. The company can certainly improve the value of their free nights by making it completely free as it seems on the surface. Since this is a reward earned by loyal customers, they will appreciate it more if free means free.
One of the drawbacks of the Hotels.com rewards program is the expiration of stamps and free night credits. Members lose all their credits if they do not book or redeem their earned credits within 12 months. Although this policy encourages constant engagement with the brand, it is a turn-off for infrequent travelers who cannot meet the ten or more bookings within the year. They may never see the true value of the rewards program as a result. Hence the brand can make the program more attractive if they extend the expiration period, especially for new and infrequent travelers who join the program.
The Hotels.com loyalty program is particularly beneficial for self-organized and self-funded travelers who plan their bookings and have the power to control their payments and that of others.