Posted by Ric Garrido

Voila Hotel Rewards started in 2008 as a loyalty program for independent hotels around the world. Today the program announced the addition of its first two US properties with St. Giles New York hotels The Court and The Tuscany. These two hotels were formerly Starwood W Hotels until April 2010.

St. Giles New York - The Court and The Tuscany

 

Loyalty Traveler surveyed the Voila Rewards hotel loyalty program.

Voila Hotel Rewards overview

Voila Hotel Rewards is affiliated with about 200 hotels in 12 brands. Almost 50% of the hotels, 114 hotels, are in Spain and part of the Barcelona-based Husa Hotels brand

Voila Rewards profile states “the world’s number one loyalty program that unites a network of more than 250 four- and five-star independent hotels and luxury brands.” However, my tally below shows only 177 hotels listed on the vhr.com website. Some of the discrepancy appears to be with the number of hotels listed for a chain like Husa with 145 properties, but only 114 listed on the Voila website. 

The two New York properties are not listed on the Voila Rewards website yet and I found no reference to Voila Rewards on the St. Giles New York website either. Today’s press release for the Voila Rewards -St. Giles New York partnership appears to precede any website updates. 

There is also a message on a FlyerTalk post from Voila Rewards stating 10 new hotels in Brazil and 10 hotels in Thailand will be participating in the Voila Hotel Rewards program over the next two months.

Voila Rewards Hotel Brands

 

Voila Rewards Enrollment Bonus 1,000 points

Voila Rewards currently has a membership enrollment bonus offer of 1,000 points.

 

Earning Voila Rewards Points

Voila Rewards is set up in a traditional loyalty program format for earning points. The program offers bonus points promotions and elite member levels. Eligible bookings consist of reservations made through Voila Rewards site, Voila Rewards participating hotels’ websites or directly with the hotel.

Voila Rewards uses 10 base points earned per US$1 in hotel spend. This is interesting that a predominantly foreign hotels loyalty program uses the US$1 for its earning standard.

The unknown aspect from my analysis viewpoint is the currency exchange consumer fairness at hotels calculating US dollars from Euros or Indonesia Rupiahs or China Yuan. Hotels are not generally known for consumer friendly exchange rates.

I guess the positive aspect of this is the US dollar exchange rate means hotels paid in foreign currencies converted to US dollars earn more points as the room rate rises in US dollars compared to other currencies with the currency market fluctuation trend of the past two years.

 

Voila Rewards Membership Levels

Phoenix members are entry level with 0 to 9 nights in a calendar year.

  • Earn 10 Voila Rewards points per US$1
  • Make online reservations for all Voila properties.
  • Purchase points
  • Transfer points to family member
  • Complimentary weekday newspaper
  • Exclusive members-only offers

Orion membership = 10 nights in a consecutive 12-month period. This means the Voila Rewards program does not work on a calendar year for earning elite status.  The norm for the majority hotel loyalty programs is calendar year. Orion members earn 25% bonus points or 12.5 points per US$1.

In addition to benefits mentioned above, Orion members receive:

  • Earn 25% elite bonus points
  • 11am check-in and 4:00pm check-out
  • One category room upgrade
  • Complimentary fitness center access 

Centaurus membership = 20 nights in a consecutive 12-month period. Centaurus members receive 50% elite bonus points or 15 points per US$1.

In addition to benefits mentioned above, Centaurus members receive:

  • Earn 50% elite bonus points
  • No black-out dates for rewards
  • 24-hour guaranteed room availability
  • Special welcome amenity
  • Complimentary access to Executive Lounge (select hotels)

Redeeming Voila Points

The points redemption side is where Voila Rewards differs from most U.S. based hotel loyalty programs. Voila points have a fixed value range of $6.67 to $10.00 per 1,000 points.

  • 5,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $49 and below
  • 7,500 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $50 – $74
  • 10,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $75 – $99
  • 15,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $100 – $149
  • 20,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $150 – $199
  • 25,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $200 – $249
  • 30,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $250 – $299
  • 35,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $300 – $349
  • 40,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $350 – $399
  • 50,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $400 – $499
  • 60,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $500 – $599
  • 70,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $600 – $699
  • 85,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $700 – $849
  • 100,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $850 – $999
  • 125,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $1,000 – $1,249
  • 150,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $1,250 – $1,499
  • 175,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $1,500 – $1,749
  • 200,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $1,750 – $1,999
  • 250,000 VOILÀ Points for any room reward redemption $2,000 and above  

The limiting issue with Voila Rewards is the fixed rate for redemption. Compare Voila Rewards to Marriott with 10 points per $1 in hotel spend. Marriott Category 4 hotel reward at 20,000 points is earned at same rate as Voila Rewards 20,000 points redeemable for $150 to $199 hotel room. This is a redemption value of $7.50 to $9.95 per 1,000 points.

The difference between Marriott Rewards redemptions and Voila Rewards means I can’t ever get more than $10.00 per 1,000 Voila points, whereas I might be able to spend 30,000 Marriott Rewards points for a $400 Ritz-Carlton hotel room night for a redemption value of $13.33/1000 points. I can’t get more than a $299 room night with Voila Rewards with 30,000 points.

Bottom line is 6.67% to 9.95% return on points is a decent redemption value comparable to most hotel loyalty programs and even better than some major programs when points are used for hotel stays

 

Voila Rewards Earning Equations Promotion

Promotions are the only aspect of Voila Rewards where there is currently any leverage opportunity for the frequent guest to improve the rebate value on hotel spend.

Voila Rewards offers a fixed rate of 10 points per US$1 in hotel spend at member hotels.

Earning Equations is the current Voila Rewards promotion from Nov 15, 2010 through February 15, 2011.

  • 2x points for 1-9 nights
  • 3x points for 10+ nights
  • 4x points for 10+ nights and two different hotel brands

Earning Equations Promotion registration required.

Spain is an obvious place for taking advantage of this promotion with numerous hotels across the country in the Husa Hoteles brand. Assume 12 nights at US$70 average room rate.

$840 x 30 points/$1 = 25,200 Voila Rewards points. 12 nights also earns Orion membership and a 25% elite bonus on last three nights for another 525 points. [LT note: I assume 3x points applies retroactively to all hotel nights, but I did not locate fine print terms and conditions for this promotion offer.]

25,000 points is worth $200 to $249 room credit. This is a rebate value of 23 to 30% on $840 in hotel spend at low cost hotels for a redemption credit good for an upper upscale hotel night.

Design a Loyalty Promotion for Voila Rewards and win 25,000 points and top elite status

Voila Rewards was sighted on my Loyalty Traveler radar this past week prior to the press announcement of the partnership with the St. Giles two New York properties.  A post by FlyerTalk new member MD VOILA Hotel Rewards requested input from the FlyerTalk community to help design Voila Rewards next monthly global promotion.

Check out the FlyerTalk thread and send an email to Voila Rewards describing your dream promotion. If your idea is selected you will be credited with 25,000 points ($249 value) and Centaurus elite membership.

 

Loyalty Traveler Final Notes on Voila Rewards:

The addition of St. Giles New York The Court and The Tuscany properties to Voila Rewards is a major foothold in the USA. Voila Rewards is a program best suited for travelers in Spain, Romania, Russia, Indonesia including Bali and the Middle East and a few other select locations. A well-organized loyalty program structure and continued growth in partner hotels make this a program to consider if your travels take you to Spain, Indonesia or Romania where your options might be limited with other major hotel loyalty programs. The earn and burn rate for Voila Rewards hotels is a decent rebate with loyalty points.

All this analysis is solely based on the program structure. Anecdotal evidence on hotel benefits from Voila Rewards members is needed to make a better evaluation of the program from the service level aspect.

Voila Rewards expansion in the USA faces competition from Stash Hotel Rewards, another independent hotels loyalty start-up  growing its partner hotels in the USA. Loyalty Traveler will follow up soon with a profile of Stash Hotel Rewards that I see just landed a couple of nice properties in Monterey for its loyalty program.

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