The one downside to using Hotel Tonight is that you have to forgo the loyalty points you’d normally earn from a hotel stay. That’s because almost all major hotel brands now won’t give you points if you book through a third-party platform like Hotel Tonight.
So Hotel Tonight is launching their own program called HT Perks.
Here’s how it works:
It’s not point-based, like almost every major hospitality loyalty program is. Instead there are three levels based retroactively on total lifetime spend on Hotel Tonight.
Level 1 is reached once you spend $100 on Hotel Tonight – which essentially means after one stay booked via the app. Users in Level 1 will get extra-discounted rates which the company says could range from 8-12% off a standard rate.
Level 2 is reached once you spend a total of $750. While a little more involved than just staying one night, spending $750 probably means you’ve used Hotel Tonight somewhere between 4-5 times, assuming a nightly rate in the $150 – $200 range. So while it’s more exclusive than Level 1, you’d have to assume a majority of even semi-frequent travelers will be in Level 2, especially since Hotel Tonight has almost been around for 5 years.
The reward for being in Level 2 will be an extra 5% discount off Level 1 rates, as well as “exclusive offers and surprises to inspire more adventures”. While the company was tight-lipped about what exactly these will be, expect things like room upgrades or access to events like a wine or food tasting near the hotel.
The last level is Level 3, and this requires a lifetime spend of $5,000 on Hotel Tonight. This probably is a bit more difficult to achieve, but still is only ~33 nights total assuming an average rate of $150 a night. So while the majority of users probably won’t be in Level 3, it actually shouldn’t be that exclusive. The perks here will be an additional 10% discount off Level 1 rates, plus “better” offers and surprises than at Level 2, plus a dedicated VIP support phone line for Level 3 members.
A Tool for Hotels
Hotels will help cover the discounts (meaning they will make a little less on that booking) and only certain hotels will offer discounts to HT Perks members. It will be opt-in, and hotels that do offer it will get a special badge within the app which should help them compete for business.
Essentially for hotels HT Perks will be a took like GeoRates or Rate Drops, which are different ways that Hotel Tonight k=lets the hotels stand out to prospective bookers within the app.
It’s not yet clear if the offers and surprises will be covered by the hotel or Hotel Tonight itself, but since one perk is possible upgrades than it’s reasonable to expect the hotel will be involved in that aspect of HT Perks too.
Better or Worse?
So is this better or worse than a regular points-based loyalty program where you redeem points for free stays?
It’s better in the fact that your HT Perks level “status” never expires, unlike hotel and airline loyalty programs. Everyone who frequently travels has been in the situation where they need one more stay or one more flight to renew Platinum for the year, and even thought you don’t want to travel you force yourself to so you can renew status.
It’s also better in the fact that you instantly get discounts when you reach a tier – you don’t have to wait to redeem points. The downside to this is you don’t get that feeling of getting something totally “free”, but some travelers may like not having to wait to accumulate points to start saving.
The company is quick to note it’s not a loyalty program – in fact Sam Shank, CEO and co-founder of Hotel Tonight noted that “we actually forbid everyone in the office from saying the words “loyalty program” as we didn’t want to be influenced by what had been done before”.
Hotel Tonight also plans on adding more levels and perks, though it’s not clear if this would be a new level above $5,000 total spend, or something in between $750 and $5,000 (because that’s a decent gap).
HT Perks will launch today – all users need to do is update their app, and they will automatically be opted in to start being the discounted rates if they qualify.