Travel Better – How To Use Your Hotel Points For More Than Free Rooms


The Superbowl. Machu Picchu. The Oscars. F1 races. Concerts by the world’s most important superstars. Private cooking lessons with superstar chefs. VIP obtain to the world’s ideal foods festivals.

What all of these “Bucket List” experiences have in frequent is that they have all been enjoyed by travelers for free, by employing their hotel factors – and in several conditions, they are unbelievable bargains.

Here’s a true-existence illustration: Imagine viewing superstars like Elton John or Billy Joel from a VIP suite in Madison Square Yard, with complimentary foods and open bar with a guest of your decision. Now consider that the full particular night for the two of you expenditures fewer details than it would choose to get a one cost-free evening at lots of lodges. Which would you somewhat knowledge? Apart from you are not imagining it, it’s actual, and it will retain taking place.

In reality, you could probably include just one of these VIP live performance (or NBA or NHL online games) encounters just with the limited time signal up bonuses offered hotel branded credit rating cards – without the need of investing a solitary night in a hotel.

Marriott is the most significant lodge firm in the environment, and its recurrent visitor loyalty system, Bonvoy, is believed to be the premier of its form with effectively north of 140 million members. Nevertheless numerous of these associates have no notion that these awards, usually a significantly much better way to use factors than for stays, even exist. I have a mate who is a longtime street warrior company traveler, life time Million-miler on United and so on, who has been earning Marriott factors for a long time and shelling out them on lodge stays. I asked him and he experienced no plan what Bonvoy Moments was. When I informed him, he right away appeared at attending the Miami Grand Prix.

“We produced Bonvoy Moments around 2018, but with the pandemic it is nevertheless one of the greatest saved techniques in the plan,” Mandy Gill, Vice President of International Makes & Marketing for Marriott International told me all through the new NCAA “March Madness” Men’s Remaining Four in New Orleans. Crafted about exclusive activities, Bonvoy Moments is a small and lesser identified but strong portion of Marriott’s loyalty application for repeated friends. The Ultimate Four was living evidence, as I was surrounded by a handful of savvy shoppers who had made use of their Bonvoy factors to go to 1 of the most appealing “Bucket List” sporting activities in the environment. The package involved not only premium tickets with hospitality suite to the past three video games of the tournament, but hotel rooms in New Orleans the entire time, private hospitality at the hotel for breakfast and cocktails, gifts, and particular VIP ordeals like a Caesars Superdome tour and personal coach’s breakfast with just one of the winningest coaches in the NCAA.

The largest at the time-in-a-lifetime type offers like the Closing 4 are normally auctioned, and the successful bids for the biggies usually top rated a million points, which equates to a absolutely free luxurious trip to Hawaii or these types of – free lodging, that is. But the a lot more typical Moments are straight up provides of a specified variety of details, which can be as minor as 5,000 – significantly less than a evening at one particular of the reduce finish houses in the Marriott portfolio ordinarily runs.

“We did these ‘virtual’’ one on a person Zoom discussions with basketball legend Grant Hill (who won two Nationwide Championships at Duke, an Olympic Gold Medal and played 19 seasons in the NBA right before turning out to be co-proprietor of the Atlanta Hawks) and we bought them for 5000 points, and basketball admirers loved it. Our Gen Z consumers may possibly have just started with us and really don’t have tons of factors, but they can go to concerts at the Moxy in downtown New York applying very couple details and love it, and we are building life span clients. At the large stop we have Ritz-Carlton Yachts and villas and the Superbowl,” described Gill. “Bonvoy dad and mom have made use of factors to acquire their youngsters to see Justin Bieber and Harry Models and then they are heroes to their families. There’s genuinely a little something for everybody. The essential is to have a really wide wide variety of redemption degrees, some straight for factors, some auctions. The system is just acquiring greater and bigger, we’ve has 90 practical experience packages in the very first quarter of 2022 by now. But it is continue to one of our greatest-kept secrets and we’ve had users explain to us they do not tell their good friends about the auction till it’s above, so they really don’t have to bid against them.”

One of the New Orleans auction winners was a repeated traveler named Charles. He explained to me he had used his Bonvoy details to show up at the Last Four a handful of occasions before, and also the Country Music Awards in Nashville as a VIP. Simply because he’s a Duke admirer, this 12 months he also utilized factors to attend the Duke vs. Virginia video game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, a little facility in which tickets for non-learners are notoriously challenging to get, and the NCAA regional finals in San Francisco.

Since it has partnerships with the NCAA, NFL, individual NHL and soccer teams including Manchester United, specialist tennis and particular person venues together with Madison Sq. Backyard, the O2 arena in London and Los Angeles’ arena, where by the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks participate in, athletics has extended been the largest portion of the Moments program, so considerably so that a buzzword around the Marriott portfolio is that “there is a resort brand name for each lover.” But the increasing platform has ever more concentrated on two other parts escalating rapidly in level of popularity, concerts and culinary activities, as nicely as spectacles such as the Oscars, a Bucket List night time for enjoyment fans. “Special functions these as the Oscars and Region Tunes Awards have been suspended for the duration of COVID, and before the pandemic the Oscars rivalled the Superbowl, and we are hoping to get again to 100%. We also hope to incorporate Coachella as an alternative for 2023.”

In typical, it is much easier to accrue and use points with Bonvoy than any other lodge method, merely for the reason that Marriott is the largest lodge business in the world, having just surpassed the 8,000 hotel mark (fittingly, the new Marriott Bethesda Downtown at Marriott HQ, on web-site at the firm’s world wide headquarters in Maryland, was the 8 thousandth opening), with houses throughout much more than 30 models spanning each and every design and style and cost point – for this reason “a brand for just about every fan.” These include things like some of the world’s best tier luxurious brand names (Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Luxury Selection), “regular” luxury stalwarts (Westin, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Tribute, Renaissance), hipper makes (W Hotels, Moxy and Version), middle of the road giants (Sheraton and of study course, Marriott), uniquely impartial motels that don’t match chain molds and skew upscale (Autograph Assortment), a lot of decrease priced, airport and regular organization traveler staples (Courtyard, AC, Aloft, Fairfield, Four Details and Springhill Suites), as very well as various prolonged remain leaders (Factor, Residence Inns and Townplace Suites). Far more inns in additional sites suggests much more choices for just about every sort of traveler.

And just like the airline programs, earning factors has absent way outside of just stays, with numerous co-branded credit score playing cards (in some cases featuring 60-100,000 level enrollment bonuses), partnerships with places to eat, and most notably, a special 1 with Uber that allows you hyperlink your Bonvoy account and receive points for rides and Uber Eats. The Factors Guy, sage of all things loyalty, famous that “Marriott Bonvoy also gives plenty of other perks that enthusiasts of the system love… get gain of your points by scheduling encounters ranging from tickets to the Super Bowl or Billy Joel in a suite at Madison Sq. Back garden to private guide tours or VIP access to cultural situations like Miami Artwork Week and the Earth Expo in Dubai.” Visitors of internet site, who have a tendency to be hardcore regular tourists, just voted it the Ideal Lodge Loyalty Plan.

“Since the pandemic, so several people today want to get back to leisure travel,” explained Gill. “We want to have the finest loyalty application in the hotel organization, and we constantly talk to ourselves, ‘How can you get a lot more factors and use all those factors in an less difficult, far more enjoyment way?’ For the Moments program, we thrust for issues you could not get you, and we do this globally.” That can necessarily mean the F1 race in Sydney, soccer in the United Kingdom, concerts in Dubai or cooking classes with a celebrity chef in the course of one particular of the quite a few premier foods and wine festivals close to the planet. Some recent examples of one particular-off activities redeemed incorporate a tennis clinic with Andy Roddick, possessing a custom made marriage ceremony gown built by bridal designer Justin Alexander, and a private dining knowledge with Chef Daniel Boulud at his new cafe, Le Pavillon.

But there’s also a 2nd notable manufacturer extension, Marriott Bonvoy Excursions & Functions. This is a compilation of regional tours and experiences, this sort of as going for walks tours, biking tours, cooking lessons, sightseeing cruises and personal guides. It is related to tour reserving engines Viator or TripAdvisor, apart from tours and things to do are vetted by Marriott, and travelers receive a bonus five Bonvoy factors for each dollar put in. “We are extremely picky about the tours and actions we present, and it allows you approach and do almost everything on 1 platform,” reported Gill.

As she explained, “People select the spot 1st, then a hotel. They might say they want to go to New Orleans, and then relying on their type and spending budget, they select the Ritz-Carlton, the JW, the W, Westin, the Saint (Autograph Collection), Sheraton, no matter what. So generally, we attempt to emphasis on the desired destination and the local experiences that assist them get the most out of it. The resort is just component of that, inside of the desired destination it is about the experiences.”

Equally platforms mesh with 1 of the most significant traits in the travel sector around the past ten years, termed “Experiential Journey,” which has been epitomized by the transfer absent from laying on the beach and the elevated curiosity in further dives into history, lifestyle, delicacies, studying one thing or executing a specific activity on getaway. This is also recognized in the travel sector as “making reminiscences,” and the ideal recollections arrive from what you do, not where by you remain.

This is why Marriott has designed Bonvoy Times, a system that goes way outside of the standard details for free of charge nights redemption, and often provides vacationers a greater value. For illustration, a pair of tickets to see the Clippers participate in at the arena in LA from the Bonvoy Luxury Suite with food items and drinks for two can be had for just 30,000 factors. The same preparations for a Knicks activity at Madison Sq. Garden (MSG) can be 50,000. On the current – and extremely popular – Elton John farewell tour, you could go to Moments and without having any bidding, acquire a pair of tickets in Marriott’s MSG VIP suite, which include free of charge foods and alcoholic beverages for two, for 75,000 details. Billy Joel at MSG or Blondie at O2, the two with VIP suites? 75,000 factors.

To put these discounts in standpoint, all of these are for two individuals and considerably less details than you would normally want to redeem a solitary evening at a Ritz-Carlton. I not long ago stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Beach resort in Puerto Rico and beloved it, so out of curiosity I punched up a 2-night non-holiday break weekend remain this thirty day period (April) at the lodge in the least expensive room group. The price tag? 237,500 details. That is extra than a few VIP concerts and does not contain nearly anything but the place.

Or as Gill place it so eloquently, “To See Elton John for two people in a suite with absolutely free food and booze and almost everything for 75,00 points is just crazy. Some of these are great offers. We know there are users who vacation a lot for enterprise but what about everybody else? We want them to continue to be able to have encounters, so we have issues at all amounts, and we are adding additional all the time. It may possibly price tag you 25,000 points to get a absolutely free place at a Fairfield Inn, but you could have gotten in on our Times NFL Draft deal for just 8,000.”

There are about the top Bucket Listing VIP offers to the Superbowl and Kentucky Derby at one particular finish and extremely attainable however even now one of a kind and unique activities at the other, one thing for each individual degree of Bonvoy members – but to start with they have to know that the program exists. So I am telling them.


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