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We Called And Asked: Here Are the Status Extensions Hotels Are Offering

We Called And Asked: Here Are the Status Extensions Hotels Are Offering
Joe Cortez

Hotels around the world are bracing for their current new roles as shelters or hotels, using otherwise unoccupied rooms for care during the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In the United Kingdom, The Guardian reports some hotels are in talks to become temporary hospitals, while the Los Angeles Times reports San Francisco will use over 3,000 rooms as temporary homeless shelters.

Those rooms are currently not welcoming guests that would be staying for both business and leisure travel. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, there are over 54,000 hotels across the United States, comprising of a combined total of over 5 million guest rooms. If they remain closed for an extended amount of time, the U.S. Travel Association says they could feel part of the estimated $355 billion in lost travel spending this year.

With no guests to stay in hotels, many are finding ways to still reward their most loyal travelers. We asked the major global hotel chains if they are changing their policies for those with elite status, and here’s how they answered.

 

Best Western Hotels & Resorts

Best Western was among the first hotel chains to make it clear they would extend status for their guests. In an open letter to Best Western Rewards members, company president and CEO David Koenig announced elite status for all qualifying members would extend until Jan. 31, 2022.

“If you are a Best Western Rewards program elite status member, we will protect your current status through January 31, 2022 without the need to fulfill the necessary annual stay qualifications,” the e-mail letter reads. “We understand your travels may have been interrupted by COVID-19 through no fault of yours. You are our loyal customer and we appreciate your business.”

FlyerTalkers report they have received letters from the rewards program announcing their extended status. They also note that many have extended status simply by staying once or twice per year.

Choice Hotels

While Choice Hotels is offering an extended amount of flexibility to travelers who already have reservations, the chain has not decided what they will do for elite status requalification. In a statement to FlyerTalk, a hotel spokesperson said any decisions will be made at a later time.

“We certainly intend to stand by all of our loyal Choice Privileges members, including our Elite status members, during this difficult and unprecedented time,” the statement reads. “We have paused points expiration until May 31, 2020, allowing Choice Privileges members more time to redeem points and achieve greater flexibility when planning future travel.”

In addition to extending points expiration, guests with current reservations can cancel up to 24 hours ahead of the stay if they modify their plans before Apr. 30, 2020. Those who have a non-cancellable, pre-paid rate can request a refund using this form.

Hilton Hotels

A company spokesperson for Hilton Hotels declined to answer FlyerTalk’s specific questions about extending elite status, but instead referred us to their Coronavirus response website. In addition to covering flexible cancellation policies and cleaning protocol, their statement notes elite status re-qualifying for 2021 has not yet been determined.

“We know that earning Hilton Honors Points and Status is an important way we show appreciation. We also know the current travel environment may limit your ability to stay with us,” the statement reads. “We will pause the expiration of all points scheduled to expire between now and May 31, 2020. We will make updates to the requirements for earning tier status for 2021. Since the situation is still evolving, it is too early to make and announce specific changes. We are committed to sharing details as soon as possible.”

For Hilton credit card holders, all weekend night rewards expiration dates as of Mar. 11, 2020 will extend until Aug. 31, 2021. In addition, all weekend nights rewards issued before Aug. 30, 2020 will be extended one year.

FlyerTalkers responded positively towards Hilton’s proactive response, including their flexible cancellation policies. The Hilton Honors Ambassador also clarified that their policy for existing bookings is “regardless of region up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival.” If you need to cancel a hotel booking, you are asked to call their customer service line.

Hyatt Hotels

Update 4/3: Hyatt announced that they will extend everyone’s current elite status through 2/28/22. Hyatt will also extend all award certificates through 12/31/21. Hyatt points will not expire until 12/31/20.

As the Coronavirus outbreak began, Hyatt’s focus was on rewards program members in the Asia Pacific region. A spokesperson for World of Hyatt confirmed that elite tier status and award expiration dates would be extended for those who live in the region, and award chart changes would be delayed for all guests using points to book hotel rooms.

“In February, World of Hyatt extended elite tier status and award expiration dates for qualifying members residing in Asia Pacific,” a spokesperson for Hyatt told FlyerTalk in a statement. “This includes: Qualifying World of Hyatt Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist members will now have a new tier expiration of February 28, 2022 – rather than February 28, 2021 – to maintain their elite tier status and benefits; [and] Currently valid Suite Upgrade Awards, Club Access Awards and Free Night Awards that expire in 2020 for qualifying members will be extended through December 31, 2021.”

While the changes are primarily for those affected in Asia, a decision for all members has not yet been made. “In addition to extending elite tier status and benefits for members residing in [the Asia Pacific Region], we have actively been working to evaluate tier and benefit extensions for global members who travel frequently to the [Asia Pacific] region,” the spokesperson said. “Therefore, we have granted elite tier status through February 28, 2022 for qualifying members residing outside of the [Asia Pacific] region who have a majority of their travel to this region.

“However, given the quickly evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation, we know adjustments will need to be made and are committed to communicating these updates as soon as we can,” the statement continued.

FlyerTalkers are currently keeping an updated list of all hotels closed due to Coronavirus on the forums.

InterContinental Hotels Group

Although IHG Rewards Club declined to provide a statement to FlyerTalk, their website shows they have proactively reduced elite qualification requirements for the 2020 calendar year. The new elite criteria are:

  • Gold: 7,000 qualifying points or 7 qualifying nights
  • Platinum Elite: 30,000 qualifying points or 30 qualifying nights
  • Spire Elite: 55,000 qualifying points or 55 qualifying nights

However, points expirations and any award certificates may not be given an expiration date extension. On the FlyerTalk Forums, IHG Rewards Club members have expressed their optimism for extensions of Ambassador Reward Night certificates.

Marriott Bonvoy

In a statement on their website, Marriott Bonvoy has not yet decided if they will extend loyalty status to guests who cannot stay due to the COVID-19 situation. But the hotel chain is offering several accommodations for current elite members and credit card holders.

All current Marriot Bonvoy points expiration dates will extend to Aug. 31, 2020, so that members can use their points. Anyone with a suite night award certificate expiring Dec. 31, 2020 will have those extended by one year. Finally, anyone who have an active free night award from a credit card, annual choice benefit, promotion or travel package can use it through Dec. 31, 2021.

“We understand that earning status for 2021 may also be on your mind,” the statement reads. “As the current situation is still evolving, it is too early for us to make any changes. We will keep you updated on all loyalty program changes through our Marriott Bonvoy member benefits website.”

FlyerTalkers currently have an active discussion thread on their experiences with Marriott from the COVID-19 situation.

Radisson Rewards

In a statement published to their website, Radisson Rewards proactively announced they would extend both elite status and point expiration due to the COVID-19 situation. Those holding e-certs from the Radisson Rewards Visa card scheduled to expire between Mar. 1 and June 30, 2020, will receive an expiration extension through June 30, 2021.

“As COVID-19 affects travel plans around the world, we believe our Radisson Rewards members deserve to use the points that they have acquired and should not be penalized due to circumstances out of their control,” the statement reads. “As a result, Radisson Hotels is suspending it’s point expiration policy by six months, effective Mar. 1, 2020. We have also extended the elite status of our members through February 2022, for those that would have expired February 2021.”

FlyerTalkers report they have received communications from Radisson Rewards informing them their elite status would be extended.

Wyndham Rewards

Like World of Hyatt, Wyndham’s first concern was for those Wyndham Rewards members who live in Greater China and the Southeast Asia Pacific Rim. While points extensions will apply for all members, current elite status extensions are only granted to those affected in Asia.

“We are pausing the expiration of any Wyndham Rewards points scheduled to expire between now and May 31, 2020,” a statement to FlyerTalk from a spokesperson read. “And have extended current Wyndham Rewards Member Levels (status) for all members in the Greater China and Southeast Asia Pacific Rim regions through the end of 2021.”

When FlyerTalk asked if elite member levels would also be extended for travelers in North America, Wyndham Rewards did not provide comment. Additionally, FlyerTalkers on the Wyndham Rewards forum are not discussing current effects on the hotel chain due to COVID-19.

 

Get the most up-to-date information on how hotel chains are responding to the Coronavirus on the FlyerTalk forums. Additionally, FlyerTalk has a dedicated thread for Coronavirus resources and information.

View Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. kmcottrell

    March 21, 2020 at 9:00 am

    You should have asked Accor if you want to know where the floor in customer care is

  2. babson1

    March 21, 2020 at 1:05 pm

    Accor just announced it is crediting member accounts with 50% of each individual’s stay/status requirements based up their current level. Seems reasonable and thoughtful approach

  3. babson1

    March 21, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Loyalty goes both ways

    We know that earning ALL – Accor Live Limitless Points and Status is important to you. Understanding that travel plans are being significantly disrupted, we will be crediting 50% of the status nights and points required to achieve your current status level. We will keep you informed of any additional changes to the program as the situation continues to evolve.

  4. flyzabit

    March 25, 2020 at 7:26 am

    Marriott had held both my spouse’s and my Titanium status over the weekend (when I applied for his JustRewards United status continuation, but by Monday 3/24, they had dropped us to Gold. You may update the Marriott item. They “decided”.

  5. babson1

    March 25, 2020 at 12:37 pm

    Hilton update excerpt from email:

    Your Hilton Honors Status and Points

    We consider it our privilege to have you as a Hilton Honors member and we want to show our appreciation by extending your benefits:
    2019 Status Extension. All members whose 2019 status was scheduled to be downgraded on March 31, 2020—whether it’s Diamond, Gold or Silver—will automatically receive an extension through March 31, 2021.
    2020 Status Extension. We are extending your 2020 member status through March 31, 2022. This means you will continue to enjoy all the Diamond, Gold or Silver benefits you have access to today for the next 24 months.
    Points Extension. We will pause the expiration of all Points scheduled to expire between now and December 31, 2020.
    Weekend Night Rewards Earned on Eligible Hilton Credit Cards. We have extended the expiration date of all unexpired Weekend Night Rewards as of March 11, 2020, and all new ones issued until August 30, 2020, through the end of next summer (August 31, 2021).

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