What are the best Hotel Loyalty Programs to use around Sydney CBD? Accor, SPG, Hilton?


Hey Pointshacks Community!

I’m starting work as a consultant soon and am trying to make a decision on a hotel loyalty program.

I’ve just spent a month in Europe and stayed at a few Accor properties so I’m quite close to my Silver status with Accor.

However, I have heard that Accor hotels rarely acknowledge status, widely vary in terms of hotel quality and it seems to me that 2000 points for 40 Euros off a booking seems like pretty poor value, whereas someone like Hilton offers far better value for free night redemptions.

I’ll be living in Melbourne and travelling mostly to Sydney (Sometimes to Perth).

Any suggestions on a good loyalty program and thoughts on the Accor one?

Would love to hear personal experience with the Accor loyalty program.

I’d like a chain with multiple hotels in Sydney CBD, so that I have some flexibility in terms of the budget of a particular trip. And generally having a portfolio with some varied options in terms of mid price/budget hotels also for personal travel!

I did like Hilton HHonors, but found the Hilton in Sydney CBD to be rather expensive and there were no cheaper options (Eg doubletree or garden inn)

SPG was another consideration, at least 4 points offers a more budget friendly option. However, not sure what impact the marriott merger will have on it!


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Thanks for the amazing responses!
It’s great to hear Accor is really improving in rewarding loyal guests, particularly since I was practically almost set on Accor even before you wrote your post!

Definitely will stick with them now, they have great rates in general, even for highly desirable properties in Sydney!

I do agree with you on the Accor website though, definitely not my favourite interface at all.

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I’ve had some, although not a huge amount, of first hand experience with the Accor program.

I decided last year, despite reading the loyalty program was fairly poor online, to sign up and focus my hotel stays with Accor. I made that decision generally because it turned out I was staying at Accor properties most times I traveled anyway when I looked into the brands they owned, they had one of the better footprints in Australia and a good range of brands and price points – particularly for the leisure traveler anyway!

I purchased the ibis Business card to put myself up to gold. I’d suggest I’m not particularly fussy, fairly easily pleased and feel I’ve done OK out of the gold membership.

They’ve delivered the drink vouchers every time and complimentary bottle of water on most occasions. Late checkouts have been facilitated wherever I’ve asked – with the ‘worst’ one being where it could only be extended to 1pm due to the hotel being fully booked. I’ve also been checked in a few hours early and given a late checkout at the same time – even though its meant to be one or the other at gold level.

The room upgrades have been a bit hit and miss. That said, I tend to book twin rooms, which are difficult enough to come by as it is and often don’t have a ‘next category up’ to be easily upgraded to. I’ve been upgraded a couple of times however, and on other occasions they’ve apologised in the welcome letter that they were unable to facilitate an upgrade.

In my last couple of stays – within the last two months – I’ve received upgrade emails a few days before the stay. These contain a link to some system that presents various upgrade options. Those times I’ve clicked on it the first level of upgrade had already been automatically applied for ‘in line with your benefits’. There has then generally been options to apply to purchase the next level of upgrades up for a discount. As an example, recently at the ibis Melbourne I paid an extra $88 a night for the 2nd round of upgrading and went from a standard queen to a 2 bedroom apartment – the default upgrade was to a 1 bedroom apartment. The difference between the queen and 2brm room types was about $290 a night if booking upfront. I thought that was an OK deal.

It would seem they are becoming far more systematic about this and delivering far more consistently than a few years ago, when much of the online commentary was written. Investing in an online system to help facilitate would suggest to me they are taking loyalty seriously.

In the last few months they also seem to have become better at paying attention to the preferences in your profile and saying thanks for your loyalty. Little things such as  having the lights and air-conditioning already on, rooms on higher floors, away from lifts etc. I’d agree though that it does still seem to vary a bit from property to property still, as you suggest.

I’ve never been too concerned about the points only being worth 2 euro cents each – partially because I find benefits such as the late checkout more valuable. Either way, they are worth more than a Qantas Point in economy and I’m not convinced it’s bad value in the scheme of things. The Euro thing is frustrating though, as it does make it somewhat more difficult to calculate the return on each stay and the exchange rates being used don’t seem to be overly transparent.

I’ve not found it too difficult to earn what I consider to be a reasonable amount of points, although I pick and choose when to travel depending on what promotions are on. The 10,000 points for three, two night stays offer roles around a few times a year. A triple points offer also seems to come around once or twice a year. A 40% off sale also seems to occur three to four times  a year as well, along with other more quietly announced ‘private sales’. I’ve also picked up some extra points with the AccorPlaces app. It is a bit of work keeping on top of all the offers though.

Their biggest failing in my opinion is the web interfaces. The LeClub site is awful and cumbersome to navigate. It’s difficult to know what offers and promotions are going on, and some of the private sales could come and go without being noticed unless one is really paying attention.

Overall I’m happy enough with them, and at least as a leisure traveler have found it fairly easy to derive a level of value I’m happy with – either through sales or points promotions. They seemed to have turned the corner on loyalty compared to where they were at a few years ago and appear to be actively improving. I’m inclined to stick with them for now 🙂

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This is all anecdotal, not first hand stuff, but what I understand is:
Accor – good number of properties in Australia, but points earn can be limiting, and status recognition / benefits aren’t so amazing.
IHG – good number of properties at different price levels like Accor, rewards program can be lucrative for bonuses, ability to use IHG Ambassador for room upgrades at InterContinentals when appropriate to stay there, limited status recognition/benefits
Hilton – good number of properties, can be more expensive as you say, points fairly useful, better status benefits (free brekkie at Gold level is sweet spot)
SPG – fewer properties, valuable points earn and status benefits, but harder to earn due to limited footprint
Hyatt – as per SPG but even more so in terms of limited hotels in Australia.

Phew. Anyone with first hand experience, please correct any misconceptions I have.

  • I’m Accor Platinum and this status is worth its weight at Sofitel hotels. That’s as far as it goes. I’ve been upgraded from basic rooms to suites and never not had an upgrade with Sofitel. Pullman is a poor cousin. Hardly any recognition. Sebel, forget about it and MGallery is hit and miss. I’ve booked the Sofitel Beverley Hills in April, glad to see they’re getting into the North American market albeit slowly.

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