I admit, pursuing points has become a little more than a hobby for me. I’m definitely willing to do crazy things to maximize my points earnings (But, then again, there’s a tv show now for extreme couponing so what’s extreme to one is normal to another) One of the extreme things I’m willing to do is hotel hopping, which means switching hotels in order to maximize points and/or status.
Most hotel programs allow you to earn status by # of stays or # of night. In my case, I qualify for Starwood Platinum Status by # of stays (last year by I almost missed it!), so I need 25 stays per year. A stay is at least one night at a property. Qualifying by nights simply means # of nights – it doesn’t matter how many times you stay, 50 for Starwood (Hyatt also uses the 25/50 stays/nights ratio. Hilton requires 28 stays/60 nights; Marriott requires 75 nights (no options for # of stays) and Priority Rewards (Holiday Inn/Intercontinental) requires 50 nights or 60,000 points.)
So, clearly the easy way to maximize is by simply “staying” 25 one-night stays. However, what happens when you want to stay for more than one night? A newbie might think, “, I’ll just make two-one night reservations and check in and out!” Oh no! Most hotel chains are smarter than that and they’ll merge your reservations –they’re in this game too – so you only get one stay credit!
Is there any way around this? Yes! In the software industry we call this a work-around. The easiest (notice i didn’t say most sane) way of doing it is simply to go to another property in the same city, and that’s how you get hotel “hopping”. It might seem annoying to re-pack your things and check into another hotel, it’s worth the extra points and status. And besides, who puts their stuff in those drawers anyway…do you think they ever dust??
The good points:
1) Earn elite status quicker. It’s all about elite! Once you reach the 25 nights (or whatever it is for your program) you don’t have to hop anymore that year.
2) Maximize check-in amenities/gifts. Many hotels give amenities/gifts for each stay once you’re elite. For example, Starwood gives me 500 points for every stay (or the choice of a $10 hotel credit, an in-room movie, a snack and drink, etc…if you’re serious about your points, you won’t EVER choose those options!). If you stay at least 25 stays per year- that equals 12,500 points, enough for two free nights at Starwood! At Hyatt, they give you 1,000 points per say as a gift. At 25 stays per year- that’s 25,000 points – or one free night at a Hyatt. (I choose Starwood because there’s less point inflation.)
The Bad Points(and there are some):
If you’re with colleagues, you either have to get them to buy into your insanity or leave them behind. (Though if you have to car-pool!)
There can be a gap between check-in and check-out, so you might have to tote your bags or leave them checked w/the bell-stand and go back for them later (or, if you have a car, leave them there…and risk theft)
So do I really do this? Yes! I’ll be at the Four-points by Sheraton in San Diego Wednesday night this week, then, I move to the Westin at the Marina Thursday night. In May, I’ll do 1 night at the W New York (got a sweet rate of $239/night Sunday) and then the rate went up to $389, so I’m moving to the Sheraton Tribeca Monday night. That’s four stays on two trips and 1,000 gift miles for those of you counting! And, it’s Starwood’s Stay 3 get 1 free promo and so at the end of this trip I’ll have 1 free night earned.
New York is one of the easiest cities to do this in. Consider the Hampton Inn and Hilton Garden Inn on 35th street at the Empire State Bldg, they’re next door to each other! The Sheraton New York and the Manhattan hotel (formerly the Sheraton Manhattan) are across the street and the Westin is one block away.
We’ve all taken a non-direct flight to get in an extra segment…so why not hop hotels!