You’re either into them or your not, but we all know people who receive great benefits from hotel memberships and loyalty programmes. It’s one of those things you always mean to look into, and knowing how busy life is, we decided to talk to our Loyalty Programme Guru here at Wego to find out more.

Gerald Lim is an Account Executive with the Hotels team and describes himself as an avid ‘travel hacker’, which means he studies and analyses loyalty programmes to get the most out of travelling for less, and sometimes even free!

“It’s about finding out how points are accrued and spent, conducting an in depth analysis into frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programmes, being constantly on the look out for hot promotions, and the best way to use those points to get more for less,” said Gerald.

Using these methods Gerald has paid very little for stays in 5-star hotel suites and enjoyed premium status on flights all around the world for the cost of an economy class ticket.

“Many people don’t pay much attention when staying at a beach resort or checking into a city hotel for business to the memberships available at that property,” he said. “Many hotels around the world are connected in some way, either through ownership or subsidiary so it’s worth looking into and asking the question.”

While a lot of travellers think of airline miles Gerald encourages us to also remember hotel programmes which often feed into air points too.

“Hotels take customer loyalty very seriously,” he notes. “After all returning customers are incredibly important to their business. Benefits can vary from free internet, free breakfast (even with a lower rate room), or even the best room in the house depending on your level of loyalty.”

Most hotel reward programmes have connections with other travel businesses, including airlines and retailers, and if you don’t use your points for accommodation quite often you can transfer your points to use for miles or even purchase a new barbeque!

“It makes sense to collect as many as possible, it’s quite interesting to uncover the range of savings you can apply to things other than hotels and airfares,” added Gerald.

Taking a closer look

IHG Rewards Club (Intercontinental Hotel Group)

Chains: Over 4600 hotels worldwide including Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Intercontinental Hotels, Crowne Plaza and Indigo Hotels.

Earning Points:  2000 points per stay outside the US and 10 points for every $1USD spent. Up to 50% more bonus points if you are an elite member.

Reward Nights:  Free nights start at 10 000 points for a Category 1 hotel, to 50 000 points for a Category 9 hotel. With category 1 being the lowest and category 9 being the most premium branded properties.

Did you Know?

  • The IHG Group offers Points and Cash, and you’re able to mix a combination of your loyalty points with money to pay for your hotel stays.
  • With their recent brand refresh in 2013, IHG rewards club will be offering free Internet to all members regardless of the level of status.
  • The IHG group has a separate loyalty programme called Ambassador where you could buy your separate status with the Intercontinental chain for $200. Of course, this status includes free upgrades and late checkouts.

Starwood Preferred Guest  (Starwood Hotels and Resorts)

Chains: Over 1100 hotels worldwide in 100 countries with many well known brands such as The Westin, Sheraton, W Hotels, St Regis and Le Meridien.

Earning Points:  Two Starpoints for every US dollar spent at base level, and three Starpoints for Gold and Platinum levels.

Reward Nights:  Free nights start at 3,000 points for a Category 1 hotel to 30,000 for a Category 7 Hotel.

Did you know?

  • Starwood points can be transferred 1 : 1 with fairly extensive list of airline partners. For every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to an airline, Starwood will give you 5,000 more free of charge. That’s 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 Delta or Krisflyer miles.
  • Starwood upgrade all Platinum members to the best room in the house upon check in. That includes standard suites as well!

Marriott Rewards  (Marriott Hotels)

Chains:  3,000 participating hotels worldwide including the Ritz Carlton, Bvlgari Hotels, Renaissance, Marriott and the Courtyard by Marriott.

Earning Points:  10 rewards points for every US dollar spent or two air miles with their airline partners from most of their major brands.

Reward Nights:  Free nights start at 6000 points with PointSaver Rewards and 7500 with Hotel Rewards for a category 1 property, and 40,000 to 45,000 points for a category 9 property.

Did you Know?

  • Marriott has over 250 different ways to redeem points including their Marriott online mall.
  • Marriott Rewards provides a complementary Mileage Plus (United Airlines) Premier Silver Status (Star Alliance Silver), if you are at their highest tier loyalty level.

Hilton HHonors   (Hilton Hotels)

Chains: 3,900 properties in 91 countries including the Waldorf , Conrad, Hilton, Double Tree, Garden Inn and the Hampton Inn.

Earning Points:  10 base points for every US dollar spent. For Hilton HHonors you have the option to choose from three alternative earning styles, consisting of Hilton points solely, mixing Hilton points with variable miles, or mixing Hilton points with fixed level of miles.

Did you Know?

  • Hilton HHonors benefits provide for a late check out to all members regardless of level and status, subject to availability.
  • Silver, Gold and Diamond Elite members receive every fifth night free on Standard Room Reward stays of five nights or more.
  • Hilton HHonors has over 50 airline partners, which you can transfer and redeem for air tickets.

*All information is correct at date of publishing. Please see relevant hotel sites for further details. You can follow Gerald for more tips on loyalty programmes on Twitter @geraldent