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 largest superstars. Private cooking courses with superstar chefs. VIP obtain to the world’s very best food festivals.

What all of these “Bucket List” experiences have in popular is that they have all been liked by vacationers for free of charge, by working with their hotel factors – and in lots of circumstances, they are unbelievable bargains.

Here’s a authentic-lifestyle illustration: Visualize seeing superstars like Elton John or Billy Joel from a VIP suite in Madison Sq. Backyard, with complimentary meals and open up bar with a visitor of your selection. Now picture that the complete particular night for the two of you expenditures fewer factors than it would take to get a one no cost night time at numerous hotels. Which would you fairly encounter? Besides you are not imagining it, it is serious, and it will preserve going on.

In fact, you could possibly go over just one of these VIP live performance (or NBA or NHL game titles) ordeals just with the restricted time indicator up bonuses provided resort branded credit history cards – without having spending a solitary evening in a hotel.

Marriott is the most significant hotel company in the planet, and its regular guest loyalty software, Bonvoy, is thought to be the major of its kind with nicely north of 140 million members. However several of these users have no concept that these awards, generally a much improved way to use points than for stays, even exist. I have a good friend who is a longtime street warrior company traveler, life time Million-miler on United and so on, who has been earning Marriott factors for decades and investing them on hotel stays. I questioned him and he had no notion what Bonvoy Times was. When I told him, he right away appeared at attending the Miami Grand Prix.

“We made Bonvoy Times all-around 2018, but with the pandemic it is however one particular of the very best saved insider secrets in the method,” Mandy Gill, Vice President of World Makes & Advertising for Marriott Global informed me throughout the modern NCAA “March Madness” Men’s Ultimate 4 in New Orleans. Constructed close to exclusive activities, Bonvoy Times is a smaller and lesser recognized but strong part of Marriott’s loyalty plan for repeated guests. The Last Four was dwelling proof, as I was surrounded by a handful of savvy customers who experienced made use of their Bonvoy points to show up at a single of the most appealing “Bucket List” sporting gatherings in the world. The package deal bundled not only top quality tickets with hospitality suite to the very last a few games of the match, but resort rooms in New Orleans the complete time, personal hospitality at the lodge for breakfast and cocktails, items, and specific VIP activities like a Caesars Superdome tour and personal coach’s breakfast with 1 of the winningest coaches in the NCAA.

The major the moment-in-a-lifetime variety deals like the Ultimate Four are usually auctioned, and the successful bids for the biggies typically best a million points, which equates to a cost-free luxurious vacation to Hawaii or these kinds of – free lodging, that is. But the much more normal Moments are straight up provides of a sure selection of points, which can be as very little as 5,000 – less than a evening at one particular of the lower conclude attributes in the Marriott portfolio generally runs.

“We did these ‘virtual’’ a person on one Zoom conversations with basketball legend Grant Hill (who received two Countrywide Championships at Duke, an Olympic Gold Medal and performed 19 seasons in the NBA before turning into co-operator of the Atlanta Hawks) and we marketed them for 5000 factors, and basketball followers beloved it. Our Gen Z consumers may well have just started out with us and never have tons of factors, but they can go to concerts at the Moxy in downtown New York applying extremely few factors and enjoy it, and we are creating lifetime shoppers. At the substantial conclusion we have Ritz-Carlton Yachts and villas and the Superbowl,” explained Gill. “Bonvoy mothers and fathers have employed details to consider their young children to see Justin Bieber and Harry Kinds and then they are heroes to their family members. There is really some thing for everybody. The crucial is to have a quite extensive wide variety of redemption levels, some straight for points, some auctions. The platform is just getting greater and more substantial, we have has 90 working experience packages in the 1st quarter of 2022 currently. But it is continue to just one of our greatest-kept insider secrets and we’ve had members inform us they don’t convey to their good friends about the auction until it’s about, so they do not have to bid in opposition to them.”

Just one of the New Orleans auction winners was a regular traveler named Charles. He informed me he experienced utilized his Bonvoy points to go to the Last 4 a few times prior to, and also the Place Songs Awards in Nashville as a VIP. Since he’s a Duke fan, this year he also made use of details to show up at the Duke vs. Virginia video game at Duke’s Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, a little facility the place tickets for non-college students are notoriously tricky to get, and the NCAA regional finals in San Francisco.

Since it has partnerships with the NCAA, NFL, unique NHL and soccer teams like Manchester United, professional tennis and specific venues which include Madison Square Backyard garden, the O2 arena in London and Los Angeles’ Crypto.com arena, wherever the Lakers, Clippers, Kings and Sparks participate in, sporting activities has long been the greatest element of the Times software, so considerably so that a buzzword all-around the Marriott portfolio is that “there is a resort brand name for each individual lover.” But the increasing system has progressively targeted on two other parts rising rapidly in popularity, live shows and culinary functions, as nicely as spectacles these types of as the Oscars, a Bucket List night time for amusement enthusiasts. “Special functions these as the Oscars and Region Songs Awards have been suspended in the course of COVID, and before the pandemic the Oscars rivalled the Superbowl, and we are hoping to get back to 100%. We also hope to add Coachella as an alternative for 2023.”

In typical, it is a lot easier to accrue and use points with Bonvoy than any other hotel system, merely mainly because Marriott is the most significant resort enterprise in the earth, owning just surpassed the 8,000 lodge mark (fittingly, the new Marriott Bethesda Downtown at Marriott HQ, on web site at the company’s world wide headquarters in Maryland, was the eight thousandth opening), with qualities throughout extra than 30 brand names spanning just about every design and style and value level – for this reason “a brand name for each individual lover.” These contain some of the world’s leading tier luxurious brand names (Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and Luxurious Collection), “regular” luxurious stalwarts (Westin, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Tribute, Renaissance), hipper makes (W Resorts, Moxy and Version), center of the road giants (Sheraton and of program, Marriott), uniquely unbiased accommodations that really do not suit chain molds and skew upscale (Autograph Selection), quite a few decrease priced, airport and regular organization traveler staples (Courtyard, AC, Aloft, Fairfield, 4 Factors and Springhill Suites), as effectively as a number of prolonged keep leaders (Component, Residence Inns and Townplace Suites). More accommodations in much more areas means additional possibilities for just about every variety of traveler.

And just like the airline packages, earning factors has gone way past just stays, with many co-branded credit history playing cards (at times featuring 60-100,000 issue enrollment bonuses), partnerships with eating places, and most notably, a unique a single with Uber that lets you link your Bonvoy account and generate details for rides and Uber Eats. The Factors Male, sage of all points loyalty, noted that “Marriott Bonvoy also gives a great deal of other perks that supporters of the system love… just take edge of your factors by scheduling activities ranging from tickets to the Tremendous Bowl or Billy Joel in a suite at Madison Square Back garden to private information tours or VIP access to cultural situations like Miami Art 7 days and the World Expo in Dubai.” Visitors of ThePointsGuy.com site, who have a tendency to be hardcore frequent vacationers, just voted it the Greatest Hotel Loyalty Method.

“Since the pandemic, so a lot of individuals want to get back again to leisure vacation,” mentioned Gill. “We want to have the greatest loyalty method in the hotel organization, and we constantly ask ourselves, ‘How can you acquire far more factors and use those people points in an easier, a lot more exciting way?’ For the Times application, we thrust for things you could not get you, and we do this globally.” That can signify the F1 race in Sydney, soccer in the United Kingdom, live shows in Dubai or cooking classes with a movie star chef through one particular of the many premier foodstuff and wine festivals about the earth. Some recent examples of one particular-off ordeals redeemed incorporate a tennis clinic with Andy Roddick, obtaining a custom made marriage robe made by bridal designer Justin Alexander, and a non-public dining working experience with Chef Daniel Boulud at his new cafe, Le Pavillon.

But there’s also a 2nd noteworthy model extension, Marriott Bonvoy Excursions & Functions. This is a compilation of neighborhood excursions and encounters, these kinds of as strolling tours, biking tours, cooking lessons, sightseeing cruises and non-public guides. It is related to tour reserving engines Viator or TripAdvisor, other than excursions and pursuits are vetted by Marriott, and tourists receive a bonus 5 Bonvoy details per dollar invested. “We are very picky about the excursions and routines we supply, and it lets you prepare and do every little thing on a single platform,” mentioned Gill.

As she stated, “People decide on the desired destination initially, then a resort. They could possibly say they want to go to New Orleans, and then relying on their design and style and price range, they choose the Ritz-Carlton, the JW, the W, Westin, the Saint (Autograph Collection), Sheraton, whatever. So generally, we check out to aim on the place and the local experiences that enable them get the most out of it. The lodge is just component of that, inside of the destination it is about the experiences.”

Both of those platforms mesh with one particular of the greatest tendencies in the vacation industry more than the past decade, termed “Experiential Vacation,” which has been epitomized by the transfer away from laying on the seashore and the amplified curiosity in further dives into record, culture, delicacies, finding out a thing or undertaking a special action on family vacation. This is also acknowledged in the vacation field as “making memories,” and the most effective recollections appear from what you do, not exactly where you keep.

This is why Marriott has crafted Bonvoy Times, a system that goes way outside of the standard points for free nights redemption, and generally provides travelers a much better price. For example, a pair of tickets to see the Clippers play at the Crypto.com arena in LA from the Bonvoy Luxury Suite with food and drinks for two can be had for just 30,000 factors. The same preparations for a Knicks video game at Madison Sq. Backyard garden (MSG) can be 50,000. On the modern – and incredibly popular – Elton John farewell tour, you could go to Times and with out any bidding, buy a pair of tickets in Marriott’s MSG VIP suite, including free food and alcohol for two, for 75,000 details. Billy Joel at MSG or Blondie at O2, both equally with VIP suites? 75,000 details.

To set these promotions in perspective, all of these are for two men and women and significantly less factors than you would usually need to have to redeem a solitary night at a Ritz-Carlton. I lately stayed at the St. Regis Bahia Beach front resort in Puerto Rico and loved it, so out of curiosity I punched up a 2-night time non-holiday getaway weekend keep this month (April) at the resort in the least expensive space class. The value? 237,500 details. That’s additional than three VIP live shows and does not involve anything at all but the home.

Or as Gill set it so eloquently, “To See Elton John for two men and women in a suite with cost-free food items and booze and anything for 75,00 details is just insane. Some of these are good offers. We know there are members who journey a lot for organization but what about all people else? We want them to nonetheless be able to have ordeals, so we have factors at all amounts, and we are adding more all the time. It could value you 25,000 factors to get a totally free home at a Fairfield Inn, but you could have gotten in on our Times NFL Draft offer for just 8,000.”

There are in excess of the prime Bucket Record VIP deals to the Superbowl and Kentucky Derby at just one conclusion and very attainable but continue to special and particular ordeals at the other, some thing for just about every amount of Bonvoy associates – but very first they have to know that the software exists. So I am telling them.