If you’re a frequent traveler and you book smart, you’ll find that your points and miles will rapidly accumulate, quickly turning into free hotel stays, flights and a number of different perks and amenities. It would take days to map out all of the different booking strategies that can help you earn and maximize your rewards, so for now, I’ll focus on three booking tips that have helped me save big: unique rewards, additional perks and amenities, and the opportunity to earn airline miles with hotel bookings.
Earn unique rewards
Most well-known hotel chains, such as Hyatt, IHG and Starwood, award points that can be redeemed for benefits like free accommodations and upgrades. But did you know that there are some hotel chains that award points that can be redeemed outside of their franchise? Earlier this year, La Quinta Inns & Suites launched a program where members could earn loyalty points at La Quinta locations by booking direct, which could then be redeemed for stays at over 11,000 luxury properties around the world, outside of the La Quinta brand.
In addition to hotels, a number of airlines are also now allowing travelers to earn points and miles within their brand but then redeem them elsewhere. Hawaiian Airlines’ loyalty program HawaiianMiles lets you earn miles that you can then use for flight rewards on other airlines.
Other unique rewards include those such as your own private concert with loyalty programs like Hilton HHonors Redemption Experiences or VIP tickets to major sporting events with Delta Skymiles Experiences Program. I always check with my loyalty providers to see what kind of innovative loyalty options they offer, and I always take advantage of hotel promotions that allow members to earn extra points for booking a certain amount of nights. One example of this is Marriott’s MegaBonus promotion, which gives customers the ability to earn 5,000 bonus points after just two stays or 10,000 bonus points for every 10 paid nights.
Receive additional perks and amenities
A lot of travelers don’t know that they can obtain a number of perks and amenities when they book with an airline or hotel franchise directly. For air travel, this can mean benefits such as preferred seating preferences, which can be a priority if you’re traveling with friends or family, and for hotels, this can mean benefits such as complimentary room upgrades (based on availability) or even free room service. Some franchises won’t advertise these subtle benefits so always check with your loyalty provider, preferred hotel or airline of choice to see all of the rewards that they offer.
One trick that can really help you stack perks, amenities and rewards is social media. From flash sales to monthly booking deals, most airlines use social media as a medium to engage their members. Often, they’ll offer perks and amenities (as well as points and miles) as a reward for simply following them. For example, JetBlue offers weekly discounts and deals, or "cheeps," on Twitter under their handle @JetBlueCheeps. Many hotels will also offer regular booking deals through their email newsletters, so make sure you don’t accidentally filter out opportunities to earn perks, amenities or discounts!
Earn airline miles with a hotel stay
Did you know that you can earn airline miles for booking hotel rooms? It’s true and in fact, just a few hotel reservations can quickly turn into thousands of frequent-flier miles. You won’t be booking direct here, but it’s a great way to rack up free flights, especially if you travel often. If you want to rapidly earn miles for your hotel stays, head over to booking websites like PointsHound or RocketMiles. When you reserve a room with either site, you can earn up to 6,000 points a night for airlines or a rewards program of your choice.
These are just a few of the booking strategies that can help you earn points and miles when you travel. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you prefer. Want to earn additional perks and amenities for your next reservation or flight? Then you might benefit from booking directly with a hotel or airline. However, if you prefer to earn frequent-flier miles for a stay, you might want to head to a hotel booking website that lets you earn miles by booking through them. When you know your travel preferences and you have the right booking strategy, you’ll easily save money no matter where you go.