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 biggest superstars. Private cooking lessons with superstar cooks. VIP accessibility to the world’s most effective food items festivals.

What all of these “Bucket List” encounters have in frequent is that they have all been savored by tourists for totally free, by using their hotel details – and in a lot of cases, they are unbelievable bargains.

Here’s a genuine-lifestyle instance: Think about observing superstars like Elton John or Billy Joel from a VIP suite in Madison Sq. Back garden, with complimentary foodstuff and open up bar with a guest of your preference. Now consider that the whole exclusive evening for the two of you charges much less details than it would acquire to get a single totally free evening at quite a few inns. Which would you fairly working experience? Except you are not imagining it, it is actual, and it will maintain going on.

In reality, you could possibly cover one particular of these VIP concert (or NBA or NHL games) encounters just with the constrained time sign up bonuses provided lodge branded credit rating playing cards – without having paying out a one night in a hotel.

Marriott is the greatest lodge enterprise in the earth, and its recurrent guest loyalty program, Bonvoy, is believed to be the most significant of its type with nicely north of 140 million customers. Nonetheless many of these members have no strategy that these awards, generally a much improved way to use points than for stays, even exist. I have a pal who is a longtime highway warrior business traveler, life time Million-miler on United and so on, who has been earning Marriott details for a long time and paying out them on lodge stays. I requested him and he had no concept what Bonvoy Times was. When I told him, he quickly looked at attending the Miami Grand Prix.

“We developed Bonvoy Times about 2018, but with the pandemic it is nonetheless a person of the greatest saved secrets in the system,” Mandy Gill, Vice President of World wide Makes & Advertising for Marriott International explained to me during the recent NCAA “March Madness” Men’s Remaining 4 in New Orleans. Created close to specific experiences, Bonvoy Moments is a smaller and lesser recognized but highly effective aspect of Marriott’s loyalty plan for repeated visitors. The Last Four was residing proof, as I was surrounded by a handful of savvy clients who experienced made use of their Bonvoy details to attend just one of the most desirable “Bucket List” sporting gatherings in the planet. The package incorporated not only high quality tickets with hospitality suite to the past three games of the event, but hotel rooms in New Orleans the overall time, non-public hospitality at the lodge for breakfast and cocktails, presents, and specific VIP experiences like a Caesars Superdome tour and private coach’s breakfast with a person of the winningest coaches in the NCAA.

The biggest at the time-in-a-life time type deals like the Remaining Four are usually auctioned, and the successful bids for the biggies commonly leading a million factors, which equates to a no cost luxurious journey to Hawaii or these types of – totally free lodging, that is. But the a lot more regular Moments are straight up presents of a selected quantity of points, which can be as small as 5,000 – much less than a night time at one of the lower conclude properties in the Marriott portfolio commonly runs.

“We did these ‘virtual’’ a single on one particular Zoom discussions with basketball legend Grant Hill (who received two Countrywide 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 marketed them for 5000 points, and basketball supporters beloved it. Our Gen Z customers may have just started off with us and do not have tons of factors, but they can go to live shows at the Moxy in downtown New York employing incredibly handful of factors and love it, and we are building lifetime customers. At the substantial conclude we have Ritz-Carlton Yachts and villas and the Superbowl,” explained Gill. “Bonvoy mom and dad have utilised factors to get their children to see Justin Bieber and Harry Variations and then they are heroes to their households. There is definitely anything for absolutely everyone. The key is to have a pretty huge wide variety of redemption stages, some straight for factors, some auctions. The system is just having more substantial and larger, we have has 90 practical experience offers in the to start with quarter of 2022 by now. But it’s even now one particular of our most effective-kept secrets and techniques and we’ve had customers notify us they really do not notify their friends about the auction right up until it is about, so they really don’t have to bid against them.”

1 of the New Orleans auction winners was a repeated traveler named Charles. He told me he had utilised his Bonvoy details to go to the Closing Four a few occasions right before, and also the State Songs Awards in Nashville as a VIP. Mainly because he’s a Duke supporter, this 12 months he also utilised points to attend the Duke vs. Virginia video game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, a compact facility where by tickets for non-students are notoriously tough to get, and the NCAA regional finals in San Francisco.

Due to the fact it has partnerships with the NCAA, NFL, personal NHL and soccer groups including Manchester United, skilled tennis and individual venues such as Madison Square Yard, the O2 arena in London and Los Angeles’ arena, the place the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks perform, sports activities has extended been the most significant part of the Times method, so substantially so that a buzzword about the Marriott portfolio is that “there is a resort brand for each lover.” But the growing platform has progressively centered on two other spots growing fast in reputation, concerts and culinary occasions, as very well as spectacles these kinds of as the Oscars, a Bucket List evening for enjoyment fans. “Special functions these as the Oscars and Place Tunes Awards have been suspended throughout COVID, and right before the pandemic the Oscars rivalled the Superbowl, and we are hoping to get back to 100%. We also hope to incorporate Coachella as an possibility for 2023.”

In general, it is less complicated to accrue and use points with Bonvoy than any other resort system, simply just because Marriott is the biggest lodge business in the world, acquiring just surpassed the 8,000 resort mark (fittingly, the new Marriott Bethesda Downtown at Marriott HQ, on web-site at the company’s world-wide headquarters in Maryland, was the eight thousandth opening), with attributes throughout a lot more than 30 brand names spanning each individual design and value place – hence “a model for each and every enthusiast.” These incorporate some of the world’s top rated tier luxury brands (Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Luxury Assortment), “regular” luxurious stalwarts (Westin, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Tribute, Renaissance), hipper makes (W Motels, Moxy and Version), center of the highway giants (Sheraton and of training course, Marriott), uniquely impartial motels that really do not match chain molds and skew upscale (Autograph Assortment), numerous decreased priced, airport and recurrent business traveler staples (Courtyard, AC, Aloft, Fairfield, Four Details and Springhill Suites), as well as many prolonged remain leaders (Factor, Residence Inns and Townplace Suites). Much more motels in much more spots implies a lot more solutions for each type of traveler.

And just like the airline applications, earning points has long gone way beyond just stays, with quite a few co-branded credit score cards (often featuring 60-100,000 position enrollment bonuses), partnerships with eating places, and most notably, a distinctive just one with Uber that allows you backlink your Bonvoy account and get paid factors for rides and Uber Eats. The Details Dude, sage of all matters loyalty, famous that “Marriott Bonvoy also features lots of other benefits that admirers of the software love… choose gain of your points by reserving encounters ranging from tickets to the Tremendous Bowl or Billy Joel in a suite at Madison Square Back garden to non-public guide excursions or VIP accessibility to cultural occasions like Miami Artwork Week and the Earth Expo in Dubai.” Viewers of site, who tend to be hardcore regular tourists, just voted it the Greatest Lodge Loyalty Method.

“Since the pandemic, so many folks want to get back to leisure travel,” claimed Gill. “We want to have the very best loyalty plan in the lodge company, and we often inquire ourselves, ‘How can you obtain extra factors and use people details in an easier, much more fun way?’ For the Moments plan, we press for matters you could not get yourself, and we do this globally.” That can suggest the F1 race in Sydney, soccer in the United Kingdom, concert events in Dubai or cooking courses with a superstar chef for the duration of one particular of the several leading food items and wine festivals all over the entire world. Some latest examples of a person-off activities redeemed incorporate a tennis clinic with Andy Roddick, possessing a customized marriage ceremony gown developed by bridal designer Justin Alexander, and a private eating encounter with Chef Daniel Boulud at his new restaurant, Le Pavillon.

But there is also a second noteworthy model extension, Marriott Bonvoy Tours & Functions. This is a compilation of neighborhood tours and ordeals, this kind of as walking tours, cycling excursions, cooking lessons, sightseeing cruises and private guides. It is comparable to tour booking engines Viator or TripAdvisor, apart from tours and actions are vetted by Marriott, and travelers receive a reward 5 Bonvoy points for each dollar expended. “We are pretty picky about the tours and functions we supply, and it allows you program and do almost everything on one platform,” explained Gill.

As she described, “People choose the destination initial, then a lodge. They could say they want to go to New Orleans, and then relying on their type and price range, they decide the Ritz-Carlton, the JW, the W, Westin, the Saint (Autograph Selection), Sheraton, regardless of what. So generally, we attempt to concentrate on the place and the area encounters that assistance them get the most out of it. The resort is just portion of that, in just the place it is about the experiences.”

Both platforms mesh with one of the biggest tendencies in the travel sector more than the previous ten years, termed “Experiential Vacation,” which has been epitomized by the go absent from laying on the seaside and the greater interest in deeper dives into heritage, society, cuisine, learning one thing or accomplishing a particular action on holiday vacation. This is also recognized in the journey field as “making memories,” and the best memories appear from what you do, not exactly where you keep.

This is why Marriott has built Bonvoy Moments, a platform that goes way beyond the traditional factors for absolutely free evenings redemption, and typically delivers vacationers a better price. For case in point, a pair of tickets to see the Clippers perform at the arena in LA from the Bonvoy Luxury Suite with food and beverages for two can be had for just 30,000 points. The same arrangements for a Knicks game at Madison Sq. Back garden (MSG) can be 50,000. On the current – and extremely popular – Elton John farewell tour, you could go to Times and without having any bidding, acquire a pair of tickets in Marriott’s MSG VIP suite, which include no cost food items and alcoholic beverages for two, for 75,000 points. Billy Joel at MSG or Blondie at O2, each with VIP suites? 75,000 factors.

To place these deals in viewpoint, all of these are for two individuals and significantly less details than you would normally want to redeem a one evening at a Ritz-Carlton. I lately stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Seaside vacation resort in Puerto Rico and loved it, so out of curiosity I punched up a 2-evening non-holiday getaway weekend continue to be this month (April) at the resort in the most affordable room classification. The price tag? 237,500 factors. That’s more than 3 VIP concert events and does not incorporate something but the room.

Or as Gill set it so eloquently, “To See Elton John for two people today in a suite with free food items and booze and all the things for 75,00 factors is just crazy. Some of these are excellent deals. We know there are customers who travel a ton for business enterprise but what about every person else? We want them to even now be ready to have ordeals, so we have issues at all ranges, and we are including much more all the time. It might value you 25,000 details to get a free space at a Fairfield Inn, but you could have gotten in on our Times NFL Draft package for just 8,000.”

There are in excess of the top rated Bucket Listing VIP deals to the Superbowl and Kentucky Derby at 1 conclude and quite attainable however still unique and distinctive encounters at the other, one thing for just about every stage of Bonvoy users – but first they have to know that the software exists. So I am telling them.