Make The Best Of Hotel-Airline Collaborations

For the business traveller, frequent-flier miles that can be converted to be used at hotels are a big boon. Airlines are promoting partnerships with hotel chains and car rental companies. Here’s how you can convert your air miles to hotel stays.

  • Sign up for an airline that provides transfer of points to a hotel rewards system. Make sure that you research which hotel is part of which hotel line, because some are not so obvious.
  • Before you travel, make sure your frequent flyer number is on your airline confirmation and your hotel # is on your hotel reservation.
  • After you travel, confirm that you received the miles / hotel points. This typically takes a few days.
  • For airlines, know which airline alliance you travelled with as well as the alliance members. For example, if you are a member of United Mileage Plus, you will get miles if you fly with US Airways, Air China, Lufthansa, etc.
  • If you’re traveling frequently, make sure you know the difference between “qualifying miles” and “redeemable miles”. Qualifying miles earn you status points whereas redeemable miles are miles you can spend.
  • If you have status and ever have a bad experience, complain and you will typically get compensated depending on the severity of the indiscretion of the hotel / airline.
  • Research a few potential hotels in your desired destination. Ensure that each of the hotels on your short list participates in a major hotel loyalty program. Flexibility is crucial to getting the best deal, since you may have to negotiate your frequent flyer miles into hotel reward program points.
  • Review hotel reward programs to learn about peak periods and blackout dates.
  • If you don’t already have hotel reward accounts for the properties on your short list, register now. Nearly every hotel reward program is free, and setting up your information in advance can streamline the process of converting your miles into hotel nights.
  • Look for reciprocal point exchange agreements between your airlines and the hotels on your short list. Most airlines already participate in mileage exchange programs with multiple hotel chains. In most cases, frequent flyer miles can be exchanged for points, much like foreign currency. Some programs charge a one-time fee for the transaction, so make sure that any fees will still save money, compared to your potential room rate. A handful of programs allows travellers to convert miles directly into room vouchers, but usually for selected properties or dates only.
  • Consider “topping up” your reward program balances. Most frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs offer relatively inexpensive ways to purchase additional miles or points.
  • Check for hotel promotional rates. In some cases, it may even be less expensive to use hotel reward points for only part of your trip, so consider whether paying for one or two nights outright can save you money compared to topping off your account.

The two kinds of partnership programmes:

Miles Rewards Programme

In the Miles Rewards Programme most of the airlines offer free memberships to their passengers. These airlines are in turn partners with a hotel chain, which offers certain amount of miles against the stay of these passengers, on presentation of these cards at the hotels. The amount of miles credited varies with the type of partnership arrangements and the airline and hotel involved.

Revenue Share Promotions

In most cases mutual partnerships are entered into wherein the passengers flying certain airlines get special privileges on specific trips and at certain hotels. This could vary with either specifications like round about trips, return trips vouchers etc., issued by airlines. Special rates are offered by Indian Airlines or Jet Airways, the main criterion being flying frequency / basic room tariffs.

The benefits of such programmes come mostly in terms of flying miles, which can be redeemed as per guidelines and programme specifications (which differ from airline to airline). Mostly it is coordinated by a cell specifically regulating and controlling the programmes.

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