THOR Advantage
Paying With Points
Kelsey Lindsey
How to get the most out of your loyalty program

What’s better than traveling to a new location, discovering unique foods and exploring local sights and sounds along the way, especially if part (or all) of these experiences were free!

With the vast array of loyalty point programs out there, this isn’t some far-flung wish anymore. While loyalty programs have long been a fixture of travel, nowadays airplanes, restaurants and hotels have been ramping up the perks and rewards in an effort to maintain that all-important (and sometimes seemingly-fleeting) customer loyalty.

And they’re not just for the black-cardholding luxury traveler either. Today, reward programs attract all sorts of customers, from the traveling business person to the budget-conscience family on vacation.

For the road tripper

La Quinta Returns was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as the No. 7 loyalty program in its Best Hotel Rewards Programs list. According to the publication, La Quinta Returns is perfect for road trippers because many of La Quinta’s locations are along U.S. highways, and they are ideal for budget-aware travelers. The publication also remarks that the hotel chain, abundant in its native Texas home state, has more than 870 properties across the U.S.

For every dollar spent at a La Quinta Inn & Suites associated hotel, travelers receive 10 base points, which can be redeemed within its network. But that’s only the beginning. La Quinta Returns also allows its members to redeem their points at qualifying restaurants, grocery stores and coffee shops. For those constant travelers, La Quinta Returns lets users convert their loyalty points into miles at partner airlines, which include Southwest® and American Airlines. Travelers that wish to book more luxurious stays with their accumulated points can redeem them at partners like the Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont or the Omni San Diego Hotel. Guests can also choose to donate their points to a variety of charities, including Hotels for Heroes and Operation Homefront.

La Quinta Returns breaks its program into three membership levels. Members are automatically signed up for Silver status, which gives them priority check-in and check-out, free breakfast and free in-room Internet. Gold membership makes visitors eligible for free food upgrades, while Elite top-tier status gives members a 30 percent point bonus.

For the luxury traveler

According to The Points Guy, a venerable name in loyalty media, NH is “the biggest hotel group you’ve probably never heard of.” is aimed at American consumers, so this headline might be a surprise to European customers, where NH is the top hotel provider in some countries and one of the largest chains worldwide. NH currently has 387 hotels in 31 countries, with four brands tailored towards business and luxury customers: NH Collection, NH Hotels, nhow and Hesperia Resorts. Although most of these locations are in Europe and South America, the Spanish hotel chain recently opened its first U.S. property in New York.

The hotel chain is known for its luxurious accommodations - from hip hotels to beachside resorts - as well as good locations in top tourist spots. Accumulating rewards is straightforward, with each point earned worth one euro in any country. First-time members of the program get 15 points after their first stay, and points start adding up during their second stay. Members are also able to access exclusive rates through NH’s reservation center.

NH has four categories of reward levels, with the first one (Blue) being offered to guests on their first stay. Along with free Wi-Fi, a welcome gift and the ability to pay for a stay with a combination of points and money, Blue members receive three percent of their total hotel spend in points. Silver status, achieved after 4 stays or 10 room nights, awards an extra 20 percent in points, on top of the three percent base. The earning points go up for Gold and Platinum members, along with the perks: Platinum members enjoy early check-in, late check-out, upgrades and more.

For the world traveler

With 350 hotels scattered across the world, Worldhotels offers guests a range of options when choosing their next long-distance vacation. Located in over 45 countries on six continents, Worldhotels caters to the business and leisure customer, whether they are in Auckland, New Zealand; Almaty, Kazakhstan or Memphis, Tennessee.

The Worldhotels Peakpoints program is one of the first loyalty programs to be offered on a member’s mobile phone. Here, members can see how many points they have, store their member ID and even add pictures of their travel experiences.

It takes just 400 points for customers to start redeeming them for different perks while they stay at a Worldhotels location. This can include anything from a voucher to reduce a room bill or restaurant meal, a free buffet meal or dry-cleaning services. To upgrade an experience, customers can use their points to receive vouchers for spa services, room upgrades or a high tea. Members also receive special offers when they book through the Peakpoints website, which includes wine tasting packages and complimentary perks like free Wi-Fi and airport shuttles. Worldhotels also has a large network of airline partners and car rental companies that customers can use to earn miles during their stays and receive discounts.

Each member earns two points for every Euro spent on a room with Worldhotels. Silver members receive an extra 10 percent in points, while the top Navigator members receive an extra 50 percent in points.
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