This is a blog dedicated to the nuances of business travel.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Status - Hotel "Mattress Runs"

So most of you are now qualified as "in the know" about airline mileage programs and how to maximize your miles and status. You of course also want to feel the love when you check into a hotel as well, and for that, we have an even easier path to success. First, I recommend you pick two hotel chains in which you are going to focus on. Make one your primary choice, in my case Starwood, which has the Westin, Sheraton, W, and Four Points lines. This primary needs to be the nice hotel chain that has great worldwide hotel choices for the places you want to go. Also choose a secondary chain, which can be one that has a lot of convenient business and rural locations. I choose Hilton because of its lower end Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, and Homewood Suites brands. Other choices obviously are Marriott, Hyatt, Priority Club (Holiday Inn and Intercontinental) and a few others. For mostly rural or US travel, Comfort Inns have a great rewards program as well.

Ok, now that you have selected your two choices, you need to plan your yearly status run on mattress beds. In the same way frequent flyer models allow you to make your status on segments, hotels have stays vs. nights ways of qualifying. Now typically, if you "stay" for business it is normally 4 nights on a given week. Starwood for instance requires either 25 "stays" or 50 "nights" to achieve their highest status which is Platinum. Platinum nets you a FREE suite upgrade every time you stay with them *based on availability.

So clearly, you would say... well why would I want to stay 50 nights, when i could stay a minimum of 25 stays of one night each! Exactly. This takes a little planning on your part, but is easily done. I am going to take the example of Seattle, Washington with Starwood... here we go.

When I fly in for a week's business trip to Seattle, I want to garner a minimum of 4 "stays". So on Sunday night, I stay at the W Downtown Seattle because of their great weekend rates. I then move and check into the Sheraton Seattle on Monday night, move over to the Westin Seattle on Tuesday night, and possibly based on customer visits, move to the Westin Bellevue on Wednesday night. All of these hotels are relatively the same price range and quality level, but instead of having one stay and 4 nights, I have 4 stays and 4 nights. Only 21 more nights to go instead of 46!

Now clearly, Seattle is an exception because it has 4 Starwood properties, right? Yes... and that is why you add in your secondary hotel chain. Lets take Austin for instance. There is only one Starwood in Austin (the Sheraton on 11th), but there are several convenient Hilton brands, including 4 downtown. Here, I would choose to stay in the Sheraton Austin Sunday night, move to the Hilton downtown if I found a great rate, or the Hampton Inn Downtown right next to it for a less expensive stay, or a couple blocks away at the Hilton Garden Inn for the other nights. I may also rotate back and forth between a Sheraton and Hilton every other night until my Diamond Status (28 stays or 60 nights) with Hilton and Platinum Status with Starwood is complete. After all, why sleep in the room facing the brick wall or air conditioning units, when you have be in the Presidential Suite??

Now remember, once you achieve this status, you do not have to room hop any more for the rest of the year, which means I really only employ this strategy in the first month or two of travel. After that, I can relax on longer stays per hotel. That is until I blog about the check-in bonuses!

Labels: , , , ,


Blogger Matt said...

Has anyone done an analysis of Marriott v. Hilton v. Starwoods? I have a feeling Marriott is least efficient from a reward-stays perspective, but I don't have evidence to back it up.

9:53 AM


Post a Comment

<< Home