Leisure travel is back. So is travel that combines business and leisure, but not in the way travel brands used to think about it. The idea used to be, you’re taking a business trip and maybe you’d bring the family (or they’d meet you) and you’d extend the trip through the weekend.
Now, with many businesses still allowing flexibility on return to office, the model has flipped. You might take a weekend trip, and start early. Since many employees can ‘work from anywhere’ they take off on a Wednesday or Thursday, work a day or two from their vacation destination, and then stay longer. The vacation drives the trip that includes work, rather than the other way around.
Either way that still involves leisure, and the pure business trip isn’t back to anything like pre-pandemic levels. There’s conference attendance, to be sure, and there are meetings. But with many offices not back to earlier levels of occupancy, with many people continuing to work offsite especially in the largest cities and for the largest companies outside of financial services (and to some extent even there, too) the ‘Monday to Thursday’ consultant travel, working at a client site, just hasn’t returned.
You can tell this from Hilton’s new promotion: double points on all stays with checkouts by December 31 plus 2000 bonus points for checkouts on a weekday. (Registration required.)
- Double points is the Hilton base case. Hilton’s program is the least rewarding for basic on-property spend, and needs these consistent promotions to be competitive. At $0.004 per Honors point this is worth an additional 4% rebate on your eligible hotel spend.
- Bonusing weekday checkouts even more underscores that those checkouts remain scarce. Traditional business travel isn’t back.
In addition Hilton is offering double elite night credit for nights stayed October 11 – December 31, 2022. (Separate registration required.)
With Hilton Honors status there is no promise of suites (you might get one but denying an available suite as an upgrade is fine in this program), there is no guaranteed late check-out (again, you might get it, but hotels aren’t required to honor this) and the food and beverage credit that replaced breakfast often is too little to cover the cost of breakfast. So expanding the elite pool isn’t that hard for them.
And I’m more than happy with my Amex Platinum-derived Gold status, and would be equally happy with status from a Hilton co-brand card. I just see no reason to chase Hilton status through stays. But higher status is (marginally) better, and if this makes it easier to get there so much to the good. Plus both promotions include award stays, which is great.
Conrad Bora Bora
At the same time loyalty programs still need to hang onto elite business travelers whose business travel hasn’t fully returned. Southwest is running a promotion and so is Hyatt but for all-inclusives only. Marriott offered double credit on home rental bookings only. Ironically Delta announced elite status will become harder to earn but that’s next year and they can always offer promotions if they’re falling short.