Why I’m Switching Hotel Brands

For the past 12 years, I’ve been traveling like a mad man. Flying about 25 – 30 round trip flights a year on American Airlines and staying in Hilton brand (Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites) hotels almost every night of those trips. About 40 – 50 nights a year, sometimes more. But it’s time for a change.

I really like what Hilton has done over the years. They are a great brand but I find my personal tastes changing. So I’m switching to Marriott. I’m needing more from a hotel brand that makes travel just a tad easier and honestly… I like seeing big brands who are updating their look to keep up with travel trends.

I saw this when I walked into a Courtyard Marriott. I felt like I found a hotel that looks as cool as Aloft but with a lot more comfort.

I was very impressed.

One of the reasons I’m switching is this. Over the years, I’ve paid close attention to how loyalty and points programs have changed. What seems to be happening is some big brands tend to make it harder and harder to get to a higher level of status and to accumulate points. Thus making it harder to book a free night stay or a free flight.

When I looked into Marriott rewards a little closer I noticed not only is can you accumulate points and status a little faster, Marriott also has a very competitive structure for redeeming rewards for a free night stay.

Example: I booked our family a free night with Courtyard Marriott for our Thanksgiving trip. It cost 10,000 points. The Hampton Inn down the street costs 25,000 points. Both hotels are in the same area.

Here was something of a surprise for me as well. I went to re-activate my Marriott rewards number, which I haven’t used in YEARS! I was shocked to see I still had 17,000 unused points with Marriott. Yep… so I used them:)

Marriott also has a very intuitive app. I just booked a weekend of hotels for a run in Texas using the app and it was just as fast, if not faster than going online to book the rooms.

Now… let’s say most things in the travel world are equal. Many large hotel brands are close in comparison. Nice rooms, good prices etc.

But here was the one deciding factor that put me over the edge. I decided to tweet out that I was thinking of switching from @HiltonHHonors to @Marriott.

I immediately got a response from @Marriott and @CourtyardHotels. I had a short conversation with both of them. Brought @AmericanAir into the conversation… they responded as well… and made my decision.

Any brand willing to engage the conversation people are having about them is worth taking my business there. It’s one of the main reasons I fly American Airlines and rent cars from National.

As a side note… @HiltonHHonors was silent the whole time.

Am I mad at Hilton? Not at all. Do I feel like I deserve something from them? Not at all. I’ve given them 12 years of loyal business and they have served me well. But times are changing and becoming more updated with the needs of this new travel world.

Big travel brands need to remember. There are a lot of business travelers like me wanting to engage with them online to better the experience all the way around from talking favorably about their brand online to getting some faster customer service.

Marriott gets it. So does American Airlines.

If you are loyal to certain brands… Why? What is it that makes you proud to be their customer?