US News & World Travel Report reviews the best hotel rewards programs every year and when all the points were tallied, Marriott Rewards won, pushing last years surprise winner Wyndham Rewards off the pedestal! They are followed by the other budget program, Choice Privileges, revamped World of Hyatt and Best Western Rewards!
Before I go into the details of the winners and how US News & World Travel Report arrived at these results, you probably want to know where the other big programs landed, so here is the top ten list of the hotel rewards programs:
How did they arrive at these scores? The number one criteria (with a weight of 45%) is how easy it is to earn a free night – and that is at the heart of what travelers want from a hotel rewards program! US News looked at how many paid nights you need to earn one free night! This is also the first flaw in the evaluation, because it only looks at how many nights you have to stay to earn a free night. It does not take into account for example that Choice only lets you book 30 days in advance, making it much more difficult to BOOK a free night (even if it was easy to EARN it)!
The next important criteria (at 25%) are additional benefits and includes the way to earn and redeem points (for example earn with credit cards or spend on something else than free nights) and perks like upgrades, late check-out or free internet for members!
The final criteria look at the reach of the hotel program, like the number of properties (10%) and in how many locations around the world they are (15%), as well as the diversity of hotels (5%) – from city hotels to beach resorts and from budget to luxury hotels! There is another flaw (or at least bias) here, as the scoring only looks at 20 popular destinations for US travelers, in the US and abroad. Choice earns a perfect score for “geographic coverage when they in fact have the fewest number of countries of any major chain, making it a poor choice for international travelers.
But, while there are flaws and you can argue why popular Hilton Honors or huge Accor LeClub didn’t make it onto the Top 10 list, I have to give US News & World Travel Report credit for taking a more scientific approach to evaluating them than most people in the industry do!
If you want to find out how your favorite program scored and why, you can find the full report here!
If you’d like to get more travel related news like this from around the world, please follow me on Twitter – I’m posting news daily, so you can stay up to date on the world of travel with my Twitter updates! Or, for a weekly update, sign up for my newsletter for a Sunday Summary!