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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 October 2018

A world of new travel loyalty programmes

An increasing number of joint and merged loyalty programmes makes it more complicated to keep track of your points spending, but there's also more opportunity to benefit, says The National's travel editor

A guest room at the Hyatt Regency Aqaba. Hyatt
A guest room at the Hyatt Regency Aqaba. Hyatt

An increasing number of joint and merged travel loyalty programmes makes it more complicated to keep track of your points spending, but there's also more opportunity to benefit.

For example, travellers booking flights with Emirates and hiring a car with Hertz now need not join two different loyalty programmes to gain credit: Skywards members can earn points for every dollar spent on Hertz car rentals worldwide, according to their tier level and in addition to any other status they may already hold with the car hire company.

Such schemes have traditionally hoped to capitalise on customers' desire for quality and their trust in similar brands, though increasingly, more unusual partnerships are forming as independent hotels without the resources of big brands seek access to a wider customer base, while big brands want the cache of associating with smaller boutique properties.

Here are three of the latest in an ever-evolving landscape of membership alliances, most of which are free to join and only involve the process of registration.

Hyatt and Small Luxury Hotels of the World

The Hyatt hotel group, which has more than 700 hotels worldwide and includes the Park Hyatt, Andaz and Grand Hyatt brands, has announced an alliance with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, a collection of 500 independently owned boutique properties in 80 countries.

By the end of this year, customers of both groups of hotels will be able to join the World of Hyatt programme, and earn points and redeem points for stays at participating SLH hotels when they book those stays through Hyatt channels.

Hertz and Emirates Airline

Emirates Skywards members can now earn points relative to their status through Hertz car hire. Hertz
Emirates Skywards members can now earn points relative to their status through Hertz car hire. Hertz

Emirates Skywards members who book car hire through Hertz can now earn points according to their Skywards tier for every dollar spent on Hertz rentals worldwide. Emirates Skywards Blue members will earn 2 miles, Silver members 2.5 miles and Gold members will earn 3 miles per dollar spent. Skywards miles can be used for flight rewards and upgrades, as well as with the Skywards programme's range of partners including airlines, hotels and shops. Benefits from Hertz' own free-to-join loyalty programme, Gold Plus Rewards, are unaffected.

Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG merge

Marriott, which owns 29 hotel brands including the Ritz-Carlton and Starwood, has merged its three biggest loyalty programmes and has promised to retain the best of all the benefits for members. The new scheme is called "MegaBonus in More Places" and customers can register here.

One-off curated trips are one of the benefits offered to members of the Marriott Rewards programme. Marriott
One-off curated trips are one of the benefits offered to members of the Marriott Rewards programme. Marriott

The aim is a streamlined approach for the group's 6,700 hotels worldwide. From last month, members of each programme have been able to book stays or redeem points across any of these hotels. Under the recently unified loyalty programs, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG members can combine their accounts giving them one account number, one elite night and points balances to travel all over the world further, faster and easier than ever before. Together, the unified programs are richer and packed with new member benefits. Members can seamlessly book, earn, and redeem points at all 6,700 hotels in our portfolio across all Marriott International channels, achieve Elite status faster, and more quickly earn points that can be redeemed at properties spanning 130 countries and territories. Plus, members earn on average 20 percent more points per dollar spent and have their Elite status recognized consistently at every hotel across the portfolio.

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Read more:

The hotel loyalty programmes that help you save on your travels

Frequent flyer? How best to earn, save and spend air miles

Travel secrets: what's your loyalty membership worth?

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