Hotels dump points, free internet and "experiences" instead

By danwarne, March 11 2011
Hotels dump points, free internet and

A consortium of 300 hotels has launched an interesting new loyalty program that provides experiences rather than points as the reward.

The first reward you can get -- just for joining the GHA Discovery program -- is free internet during your stay at any of the 300 hotels worldwide, which include Anantara, Doyle, First, Kempinski, Leela, Mirvac Hotels & Resorts, Marco Polo, Omni, Pan Pacific, PARKROYAL, Shaza and Tivoli hotels and resorts.

For domestic travel within Australia, Mirvac and PARKROYAL hotels will be your best bet.

Although Mirvac isn't as well known as names like Hilton and Marriott, it's one of the largest owners of hotels in Australia and New Zealand, with 45 hotels including:

  • Quay Grand
  • The Como
  • Quay West Apartments & Resorts
  • Sea Temple Resorts & Spas
  • The Sebel Hotels, Citigate Hotels
  • Hotel Lindrum
  • Cairns Harbour Lights
  • Harbour Rocks Hotel.

There's also the PARKROYAL Darling Harbour (Sydney),  Melbourne Airport and Parramatta.

You can search the list of hotels that are part of the Global Hotel Alliance here.

The "experiences"

The sales pitch (which frankly, sounds good to us) is that travellers don't find points as useful with hotel chains as they do for airlines.

So, instead of offering points for spend, these hotels are offering leisure experiences for business travellers who might not otherwise have time to organise a tour of a city.

For example, after one qualifying stay at a GHA member hotel, newly enrolled members could have a free sunset drive through a nature reserve in Namibia.

Platinum Level members (10 nights in a year) can attend a free rugby match in New Zealand or have a class at a samba school in São Paulo, Brazil.

By staying more than 30 nights in GHA Hotels, you'd qualify as a 'black' member, and you could get a private cruise along the Potomac in a former Presidential yacht, a helicopter tour over the LA skyline or surf lessons in Bali.

Other benefits you get for your loyalty are:

Gold (from enrolment to nine nights)

  • Your preferences recorded on your membership profile
  • A gold level local experience after first stay at a GHA hotel
  • Free newspaper, internet access and bottled water.

Platinum (10 to 29 nights)

Gold Level privileges, plus:

  • Choice of platinum level local experience
  • Upgrade to next room category at check-in
  • Late check-out until 3pm
  • Guaranteed room availability 48-hours prior to arrival
  • A local amenity

Black Level privileges (30 or more nights)

Platinum Level privileges, plus:

  • Choice of black level local experience
  • Double room category upgrade at check-in
  • Early check-in from 9am
  • Late check-out until 6pm
  • Guaranteed room availability 24 hours prior to arrival
  • Personal choice of local amenity
  • Hotel benefits (varying betwen hotels, but for example, access to Executive Lounges, free laundry service and more)

What do you think? Would this loyalty program sway you away from the major hotel brands, assuming the hotel location and quality was equivalent?

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