Travel Better – How To Use Your Hotel Points For More Than Free Rooms

The Superbowl. Machu Picchu. The Oscars. F1 races. Concerts by the world’s major superstars. Non-public cooking classes with movie star cooks. VIP entry to the world’s ideal foodstuff festivals.

What all of these “Bucket List” ordeals have in widespread is that they have all been relished by vacationers for free, by applying their resort factors – and in lots of conditions, they are unbelievable bargains.

Here’s a serious-existence case in point: Think about observing superstars like Elton John or Billy Joel from a VIP suite in Madison Square Backyard garden, with complimentary foods and open bar with a guest of your option. Now think about that the total particular night time for the two of you expenditures fewer factors than it would get to get a solitary free night at quite a few lodges. Which would you fairly experience? Except you are not imagining it, it’s genuine, and it will preserve going on.

In actuality, you could probably deal with one particular of these VIP live performance (or NBA or NHL games) encounters just with the minimal time indicator up bonuses presented hotel branded credit score playing cards – without having shelling out a one night time in a lodge.

Marriott is the biggest lodge business in the environment, and its repeated guest loyalty plan, Bonvoy, is thought to be the premier of its sort with effectively north of 140 million customers. Nonetheless a lot of of these associates have no thought that these awards, generally a much far better way to use factors than for stays, even exist. I have a pal who is a longtime highway warrior business traveler, life span Million-miler on United and so on, who has been earning Marriott details for many years and spending them on resort stays. I asked him and he had no notion what Bonvoy Moments was. When I told him, he promptly appeared at attending the Miami Grand Prix.

“We created Bonvoy Times about 2018, but with the pandemic it is however one particular of the most effective kept techniques in the plan,” Mandy Gill, Vice President of World wide Brand names & Internet marketing for Marriott Intercontinental informed me all through the new NCAA “March Madness” Men’s Final Four in New Orleans. Built about specific encounters, Bonvoy Times is a small and lesser recognised but highly effective portion of Marriott’s loyalty application for regular friends. The Ultimate Four was dwelling proof, as I was surrounded by a handful of savvy shoppers who experienced employed their Bonvoy points to go to a single of the most desirable “Bucket List” sporting gatherings in the world. The package included not only high quality tickets with hospitality suite to the last three games of the match, but lodge rooms in New Orleans the complete time, private hospitality at the hotel for breakfast and cocktails, presents, and unique VIP encounters like a Caesars Superdome tour and personal coach’s breakfast with a person of the winningest coaches in the NCAA.

The most significant the moment-in-a-life time type offers like the Last Four are normally auctioned, and the profitable bids for the biggies usually prime a million points, which equates to a cost-free luxurious trip to Hawaii or these kinds of – free of charge lodging, that is. But the extra regular Times are straight up presents of a sure selection of factors, which can be as minor as 5,000 – a lot less than a night at just one of the reduce close houses in the Marriott portfolio usually runs.

“We did these ‘virtual’’ just one on a person Zoom discussions with basketball legend Grant Hill (who won two Nationwide Championships at Duke, an Olympic Gold Medal and performed 19 seasons in the NBA ahead of getting co-owner of the Atlanta Hawks) and we sold them for 5000 points, and basketball admirers beloved it. Our Gen Z prospects may well have just started off with us and do not have tons of factors, but they can go to concert events at the Moxy in downtown Nye York making use of very several factors and get pleasure from it, and we are developing life span consumers. At the substantial end we have Ritz-Carlton Yachts and villas and the Superbowl,” described Gill. “Bonvoy parents have utilised details to acquire their youngsters to see Justin Bieber and Harry Stiles and then they are heroes to their people. There’s actually anything for everyone. The key is to have a really broad assortment of redemption amounts, some straight for points, some auctions. The system is just obtaining even larger and bigger, we have has 90 experience deals in the initial quarter of 202 by now. But it is however one particular of our finest-kept secrets and techniques and we’ve experienced associates inform us they really do not convey to their mates about the auction right until it’s about, so they really don’t have to bid against them.”

One particular of the New Orleans auction winners was a repeated traveler named Charles. He informed me he had employed his Bonvoy factors to go to the Ultimate 4 a few times ahead of, and also the Place New music Awards in Nashville as a VIP. For the reason that he’s a Duke enthusiast, this yr he also employed details to show up at the Duke vs. Virginia sport at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, a tiny facility where tickets for non-learners are notoriously challenging to get, and the NCAA regional finals in San Francisco.

Because it has partnerships with the NCAA, NFL, unique NHL and soccer teams such as Manchester United, skilled tennis and individual venues which include Madison Sq. Backyard garden, the O2 arena in London and Los Angeles’ arena, where by the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks enjoy, athletics has extended been the most important section of the Moments software, so significantly so that a buzzword about the Marriott portfolio is that “there is a hotel brand for every single admirer.” But the increasing platform has more and more concentrated on two other spots escalating quick in acceptance, concert events and culinary activities, as very well as spectacles these types of as the Oscars, a Bucket Checklist evening for entrainment lovers. “Special situations these kinds of as the Oscars and Country Songs Awards have been suspended through COVID, and ahead of the pandemic the Oscars rivalled the Superbowl, and we are hoping to get back to 100%. We also hope to include Coachella as an option for 2023.”

In general, it is easier to accrue and use points with Bonvoy than any other lodge system, merely mainly because Marriott is the greatest lodge organization in the planet, with nearly 7,000 attributes throughout a lot more than 30 brand names spanning each and every fashion and value point – consequently “a brand name for each enthusiast.” These include things like some of the world’s top rated tier luxury manufacturers (Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Luxurious Selection), “regular” luxurious stalwarts (Westin, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Tribute, Renaissance), hipper makes (W Hotels, Moxy and Version), center of the highway giants (Sheraton and of training course, Marriott), uniquely impartial motels that really don’t suit chain molds and skew upscale (Autograph Assortment), several reduce priced, airport and repeated organization traveler staples (Courtyard, AC, Aloft, Fairfield, 4 Factors and Springhill Suites), as well as many extended stay leaders (Element, Home Inns and Townplace Suites). Extra accommodations in much more places indicates additional possibilities for every kind of traveler.

And just like the airline programs, earning details has gone way beyond just stays, with quite a few co-branded credit cards (in some cases featuring 60-100,000 stage enrollment bonuses), partnerships with eating places, and most notably, a distinctive just one with Uber that lets you url your Bonvoy account and receive points for rides and Uber Eats. The Points Dude, sage of all things loyalty, observed that “Marriott Bonvoy also delivers plenty of other benefits that enthusiasts of the system love… take gain of your details by reserving experiences ranging from tickets to the Tremendous Bowl or Billy Joel in a suite at Madison Square Yard to private guidebook excursions or VIP access to cultural activities like Miami Artwork 7 days and the World Expo in Dubai.” Readers of web-site, who tend to be hardcore recurrent vacationers, just voted it the Very best Resort Loyalty Software.

“Since the pandemic, so several people want to get back again to leisure vacation,” explained Gill. “We want to have the very best loyalty plan in the lodge business, and we always request ourselves, ‘How can you obtain far more points and use people factors in an less difficult, much more pleasurable way?’ For the Times program, we press for factors you could not get by yourself, and we do this globally.” That can indicate the F1 race in Sydney, soccer in the United Kingdom, concerts in Dubai or cooking classes with a superstar chef for the duration of a person of the lots of premier foodstuff and wine festivals around the world. Some modern illustrations of a person-off ordeals redeemed consist of a tennis clinic with Andy Roddick, getting a customized marriage ceremony robe built by bridal designer Justin Alexander, and a private dining knowledge with Chef Daniel Boulud at his new cafe, Le Pavillon.

But there is also a 2nd notable model extension, Marriott Bonvoy Excursions & Routines. This is a compilation of area tours and encounters, this sort of as going for walks excursions, biking tours, cooking courses, sightseeing cruises and private guides. It is very similar to tour scheduling engines Viator or TripAdvisor, other than tours and functions are vetted by Marriott, and tourists earn a bonus five Bonvoy factors for each greenback used. “We are extremely picky about the tours and activities we present, and it allows you approach and do anything on one platform,” claimed Gill.

As she defined, “People choose the place initially, then a resort. They may say they want to go to New Orleans, and then dependent on their type and funds, they pick the Ritz-Carlton, the JW, the W, Westin, the Saint (Autograph Selection), Sheraton, what ever. So typically, we consider to emphasis on the vacation spot and the community activities that aid them get the most out of it. The hotel is just part of that, inside of the location it is about the encounters.”

Both platforms mesh with a person of the most important trends in the travel sector above the past ten years, termed “Experiential Journey,” which has been epitomized by the shift away from laying on the seaside and the enhanced interest in deeper dives into history, society, delicacies, finding out one thing or executing a unique activity on family vacation. This is also recognized in the journey marketplace as “making recollections,” and the very best recollections appear from what you do, not in which you remain.

This is why Marriott has developed Bonvoy Moments, a platform that goes way further than the common details for free evenings redemption, and generally gives tourists a greater price. For example, a pair of tickets to see the Clippers play at the arena in LA from the Bonvoy Luxurious Suite with food stuff and drinks for two can be had for just 30,000 factors. The identical arrangements for a Knicks game at Madison Square Backyard (MSG) can be 50,000. On the new – and very popular – Elton John farewell tour, you could go to Times and without having any bidding, buy a pair of tickets in Marriott’s MSG VIP suite, which include totally free foodstuff and alcohol for two, for 75,000 factors. Billy Joel at MSG or Blondie at O2, each with VIP suites? 75,000 factors.

To set these specials in viewpoint, all of these are for two people today and much less points than you would frequently have to have to redeem a single evening at a Ritz-Carlton. I lately stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Beach resort in Puerto Rico and loved it, so out of curiosity I punched up a 2-night time non-vacation weekend remain this month (April) at the resort in the most affordable space classification. The selling price? 237,500 factors. That’s much more than three VIP live shows and does not incorporate just about anything but the home.

Or as Gill put it so eloquently, “To See Elton John for two people today in a suite with absolutely free food stuff and booze and all the things for 75,00 factors is just crazy. Some of these are good specials. We know there are users who travel a whole lot for company but what about every person else? We want them to continue to be able to have activities, so we have matters at all ranges, and we are incorporating far more all the time. It could charge you 25,000 points to get a absolutely free area at a Fairfield Inn, but you could have gotten in on our Times NFL Draft package for just 8,000.”

There are more than the prime Bucket Record VIP packages to the Superbowl and Kentucky Derby at one particular conclude and really attainable nevertheless however distinctive and unique encounters at the other, anything for every single amount of Bonvoy users – but very first they have to know that the application exists. So I am telling them.