Let your loyalty to one hotel chain, give you benefits everywhere else [Hotel Status Matching 101]

Ever wondered how those people who stay at hotels in “First Class” style manage to do it? You know the people I’m talking about … they always get the upgrade or best room type, they always have free perks like

  • Free Internet
  • Free Local Calls from the room
  • Welcome amenities : Fruit Basket, Complimentary waters, chocolate and candy
  • Free Breakfast (continental or buffet)
  • Executive lounge and gym access
  • AND Most importantly … Super Late (4-7pm) Checkout (which is the 2nd best perk to have, unless you’re hungover, then it is the greatest thing ever)

I’ve only figured out that there are two ways to do this

  1. Have a gazillion dollars and pay for the best room type and pay for everything else listed (which easily can add 50$ a night to your room rate)
  2. Status match these bitches to death!!!

Since I don’t have a gazillion dollars … I always use the Status Match to stop the hotel raping of my wallet. Your next question is:

What the hell is a Status Match?

Think about how loyalty programs are designed. Theoretically, they are there to remove a barrier from staying at a hotel.  I’ll pose these questions …

  • Why would you stay at a hotel that doesn’t give you the shit I listed for FREE?
  • Why would you want to pay out of your pocket for that stuff?
  • Even if you company is paying your rate … why would you give an extra red cent to the hotel and not keep the perk for yourself?

To answer these questions, the hotel/airline guys came up with “status matching”. It’s a courtesy that many airline and hotel loyalty programs will extend to customers that want to switch some business to them. Basically, it’s when a loyalty program “matches” your elite status in another program to a similar tier in their program. The idea is that they want to win over your business, and the way to do that is to treat you right from day one, assuming you have a history as a frequent traveler.

Here are a couple basics

  1. Status matches are typically once in a lifetime for any given program. Typically, you can use any given status to match to more than one program, it’s just that each individual program can typically only be matched to once.
  2. There’s typically no status matching within alliances – but this only applies to airlines. Hotels don’t give a shit, and will status match once they know you’re going to stay with them.
    • BTW … I’ve tried matching my Air Canada “Super Elite” to United’s 1K level – they didn’t even attempt to match or make me feel better!
  3. Enjoy status for longer by matching in the second half of the year.  If you match in the first half of a year, the status is typically good for the remainder of the year, while if you match in the second half of a year, status is typically good for the remainder of that year and the entire following year.
  4. Status matching only appplies to the big boys with the five leading loyalty programs,
    • Hilton
    • Hyatt
    • Marriott
    • Priority Club
    • Starwood.
    • Until recently Hyatt was very aggressive about status matching, offering anyone with a dozen or so stays with a competitor a status match to Diamond, their top tier status, though as of earlier in the month they have apparently stopped status matching altogether. Hilton and Marriott typically don’t offer status matches, though will sometimes offer a “challenge” if you can show enough nights. There’s no hard or fast rule, as far as I know, about how many nights are required to qualify for a challenge, as it seems to very much be on a case-by-case basis.
  5. Check through the Status Matching threads on Flyertalk … they will give you all the information you need on the individual programs
    1. Starwood : Status Matching 2011
    2. Hilton : Status Matching, Comps, etc 2011
    3. Marriott : 2011 Status Match
    4. Priority Club : 2011 Status Match

As an example … you can status match SPG Platinum to Hilton Diamond … without even staying a night there … I faxed over my information to the Hilton desk …. I used the template below … and yes I know my numbers are below … 🙂

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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