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

The Superbowl. Machu Picchu. The Oscars. F1 races. Concert events by the world’s greatest superstars. Non-public cooking classes with movie star chefs. VIP obtain to the world’s ideal foods festivals.

What all of these “Bucket List” activities have in prevalent is that they have all been savored by travelers for no cost, by working with their hotel points – and in quite a few cases, they are unbelievable bargains.

Here’s a genuine-existence instance: Consider seeing superstars like Elton John or Billy Joel from a VIP suite in Madison Sq. Yard, with complimentary food stuff and open bar with a guest of your alternative. Now consider that the total exclusive night for the two of you expenses less details than it would acquire to get a one no cost evening at quite a few accommodations. Which would you instead knowledge? Besides you are not imagining it, it’s authentic, and it will hold happening.

In truth, you could most likely go over a single of these VIP live performance (or NBA or NHL games) encounters just with the constrained time indication up bonuses provided resort branded credit cards – without having spending a single evening in a lodge.

Marriott is the greatest resort company in the planet, and its regular guest loyalty method, Bonvoy, is thought to be the major of its kind with well north of 140 million members. But several of these members have no concept that these awards, frequently a a lot much better way to use factors than for stays, even exist. I have a pal who is a longtime highway warrior enterprise traveler, lifetime Million-miler on United and so on, who has been earning Marriott details for many years and expending them on resort stays. I requested him and he experienced no strategy what Bonvoy Moments was. When I advised him, he instantly seemed at attending the Miami Grand Prix.

“We established Bonvoy Times all over 2018, but with the pandemic it is still a single of the greatest kept strategies in the software,” Mandy Gill, Vice President of Global Brands & Marketing for Marriott International informed me all through the current NCAA “March Madness” Men’s Remaining 4 in New Orleans. Created around unique encounters, Bonvoy Moments is a smaller and lesser identified but potent aspect of Marriott’s loyalty plan for frequent friends. The Last Four was residing proof, as I was surrounded by a handful of savvy shoppers who experienced utilised their Bonvoy points to attend just one of the most desirable “Bucket List” sporting gatherings in the world. The deal involved not only top quality tickets with hospitality suite to the final a few video games of the tournament, but lodge rooms in New Orleans the entire time, personal hospitality at the resort for breakfast and cocktails, presents, and particular VIP ordeals like a Caesars Superdome tour and private coach’s breakfast with a person of the winningest coaches in the NCAA.

The most significant at the time-in-a-lifetime style deals like the Remaining 4 are commonly auctioned, and the successful bids for the biggies normally major a million points, which equates to a free luxurious journey to Hawaii or these kinds of – no cost lodging, that is. But the extra regular Times are straight up features of a selected number of factors, which can be as very little as 5,000 – fewer than a night time at just one of the lessen close houses in the Marriott portfolio commonly operates.

“We did these ‘virtual’’ one on a single Zoom discussions with basketball legend Grant Hill (who gained two Nationwide Championships at Duke, an Olympic Gold Medal and performed 19 seasons in the NBA prior to turning out to be co-proprietor of the Atlanta Hawks) and we bought them for 5000 details, and basketball lovers liked it. Our Gen Z clients could have just started with us and do not have tons of factors, but they can go to concerts at the Moxy in downtown Nye York using incredibly several points and love it, and we are creating life span consumers. At the large finish we have Ritz-Carlton Yachts and villas and the Superbowl,” stated Gill. “Bonvoy mothers and fathers have employed factors to choose their young children to see Justin Bieber and Harry Stiles and then they are heroes to their households. There is really a thing for anyone. The crucial is to have a quite broad wide variety of redemption degrees, some straight for points, some auctions. The system is just receiving bigger and more substantial, we have has 90 experience offers in the to start with quarter of 202 now. But it’s nevertheless one particular of our ideal-saved secrets and techniques and we’ve experienced members tell us they really don’t convey to their mates about the auction right until it is around, so they never have to bid towards them.”

1 of the New Orleans auction winners was a repeated traveler named Charles. He explained to me he experienced utilised his Bonvoy points to go to the Closing 4 a few situations prior to, and also the Place New music Awards in Nashville as a VIP. Due to the fact he’s a Duke supporter, this yr he also utilized points to attend the Duke vs. Virginia game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, a little facility in which tickets for non-learners are notoriously hard to get, and the NCAA regional finals in San Francisco.

Mainly because it has partnerships with the NCAA, NFL, specific NHL and soccer teams which includes Manchester United, professional tennis and unique venues which includes Madison Sq. Yard, the O2 arena in London and Los Angeles’ arena, where by the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks play, sports activities has extensive been the major element of the Moments software, so considerably so that a buzzword around the Marriott portfolio is that “there is a lodge brand for each supporter.” But the growing system has ever more targeted on two other parts rising speedy in popularity, live shows and culinary occasions, as nicely as spectacles this kind of as the Oscars, a Bucket Listing night time for entrainment fans. “Special gatherings such as the Oscars and Country Songs Awards have been suspended for the duration of COVID, and right before the pandemic the Oscars rivalled the Superbowl, and we are hoping to get back again to 100%. We also hope to insert Coachella as an choice for 2023.”

In common, it is a lot easier to accrue and use details with Bonvoy than any other hotel system, simply just simply because Marriott is the major lodge company in the entire world, with nearly 7,000 houses throughout extra than 30 brand names spanning each individual type and price tag issue – consequently “a manufacturer for just about every supporter.” These include things like some of the world’s leading tier luxury brands (Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Luxury Collection), “regular” luxury stalwarts (Westin, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Tribute, Renaissance), hipper manufacturers (W Resorts, Moxy and Edition), center of the street giants (Sheraton and of study course, Marriott), uniquely unbiased inns that never suit chain molds and skew upscale (Autograph Selection), a lot of reduce priced, airport and recurrent small business traveler staples (Courtyard, AC, Aloft, Fairfield, Four Factors and Springhill Suites), as effectively as many extended stay leaders (Element, Home Inns and Townplace Suites). More hotels in a lot more sites implies much more alternatives for each individual variety of traveler.

And just like the airline courses, earning points has long gone way over and above just stays, with a number of co-branded credit cards (often that includes 60-100,000 place enrollment bonuses), partnerships with dining places, and most notably, a distinctive a person with Uber that allows you backlink your Bonvoy account and get paid factors for rides and Uber Eats. The Points Male, sage of all factors loyalty, famous that “Marriott Bonvoy also provides a good deal of other perks that supporters of the software love… get benefit of your points by booking ordeals ranging from tickets to the Super Bowl or Billy Joel in a suite at Madison Sq. Back garden to non-public guideline tours or VIP entry to cultural occasions like Miami Art 7 days and the World Expo in Dubai.” Visitors of site, who are likely to be hardcore repeated tourists, just voted it the Most effective Resort Loyalty Program.

“Since the pandemic, so numerous people today want to get back again to leisure journey,” explained Gill. “We want to have the most effective loyalty system in the lodge business, and we normally request ourselves, ‘How can you obtain more factors and use those factors in an much easier, a lot more enjoyment way?’ For the Moments plan, we push for matters you could not get yourself, and we do this globally.” That can signify the F1 race in Sydney, soccer in the United Kingdom, concerts in Dubai or cooking courses with a superstar chef in the course of a person of the numerous premier foods and wine festivals about the environment. Some the latest illustrations of 1-off experiences redeemed incorporate a tennis clinic with Andy Roddick, having a custom made wedding ceremony robe built by bridal designer Justin Alexander, and a private dining encounter with Chef Daniel Boulud at his new cafe, Le Pavillon.

But there’s also a next noteworthy brand extension, Marriott Bonvoy Excursions & Functions. This is a compilation of nearby tours and experiences, these kinds of as strolling tours, biking tours, cooking courses, sightseeing cruises and non-public guides. It is equivalent to tour reserving engines Viator or TripAdvisor, besides excursions and pursuits are vetted by Marriott, and travelers receive a reward five Bonvoy factors for every greenback spent. “We are extremely picky about the tours and activities we give, and it allows you program and do anything on a person system,” said Gill.

As she spelled out, “People select the destination 1st, then a lodge. They could possibly say they want to go to New Orleans, and then dependent on their model and funds, they decide on the Ritz-Carlton, the JW, the W, Westin, the Saint (Autograph Collection), Sheraton, what ever. So frequently, we try to focus on the destination and the neighborhood activities that assist them get the most out of it. The hotel is just component of that, within just the place it is about the ordeals.”

Both platforms mesh with one particular of the greatest traits in the travel business in excess of the earlier 10 years, termed “Experiential Travel,” which has been epitomized by the move away from laying on the beach front and the elevated desire in deeper dives into history, culture, cuisine, mastering anything or performing a specific exercise on holiday. This is also recognized in the vacation industry as “making reminiscences,” and the greatest recollections occur from what you do, not exactly where you remain.

This is why Marriott has constructed Bonvoy Moments, a platform that goes way beyond the common factors for totally free evenings redemption, and generally provides travelers a superior worth. For illustration, a pair of tickets to see the Clippers engage in at the arena in LA from the Bonvoy Luxury Suite with foodstuff and drinks for two can be had for just 30,000 points. The very same arrangements for a Knicks sport at Madison Sq. Backyard garden (MSG) can be 50,000. On the new – and exceptionally well-known – Elton John farewell tour, you could go to Moments and without having any bidding, buy a pair of tickets in Marriott’s MSG VIP suite, together with cost-free food and alcoholic beverages for two, for 75,000 points. Billy Joel at MSG or Blondie at O2, equally with VIP suites? 75,000 factors.

To place these specials in perspective, all of these are for two folks and considerably less points than you would frequently want to redeem a one night time at a Ritz-Carlton. I not long ago stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Beach front vacation resort in Puerto Rico and loved it, so out of curiosity I punched up a 2-evening non-holiday weekend keep this month (April) at the resort in the least expensive room group. The value? 237,500 details. Which is far more than 3 VIP live shows and does not involve nearly anything but the room.

Or as Gill place it so eloquently, “To See Elton John for two individuals in a suite with totally free meals and booze and everything for 75,00 points is just insane. Some of these are terrific discounts. We know there are users who vacation a ton for small business but what about everyone else? We want them to nevertheless be equipped to have ordeals, so we have factors at all ranges, and we are incorporating more all the time. It could cost you 25,000 details to get a free place at a Fairfield Inn, but you could have gotten in on our Times NFL Draft offer for just 8,000.”

There are more than the prime Bucket Checklist VIP deals to the Superbowl and Kentucky Derby at a single stop and pretty attainable nonetheless nevertheless special and unique ordeals at the other, some thing for each level of Bonvoy users – but very first they have to know that the system exists. So I am telling them.


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