Why Hilton’s loyalty program wants to take you shopping at Amazon.com

Members of Hilton Hotels’ loyalty program, Hilton Honors, have a new way to use their points: paying for all or part of a purchase from online retailer giant Amazon.

All Hilton Honors members are eligible, and there are no restrictions on what they can purchase.

To use Shop With Points, members must complete a one-time link of their Hilton Honors accounts to their Amazon.com accounts.

Members can choose the amount of points they wish to use when checking out their purchase at Amazon.com.

Amazon Shop with Points is the fourth new program launched by Hilton Honors this year.

It joins Points Pooling, which allows up to 10 members to contribute points toward a stay; Diamond Status Extension, which allows members who attained Diamond Status for several years but did not meet the criteria for the current year to extend their status for one year, and Points & Money Rewards, which allows members to use both to claim a reward.

Hilton is not alone in devising such ways for members to use their points.

Most major hotel companies offer the option of earning airline miles instead of hotel points.

Marriott Rewards allows members to use points to acquire gift cards for just about any North American retailer and more than a few restaurants you could name.

Hyatt accepts points for spa treatments and car rentals.

And IHG, whose Holiday Inn brand got the frequent guest program ball rolling in 1983, has a catalogue of merchandise ranging from food processors to bicycles available for purchase with points.

Hotel companies got into the business of selling other companies’ goods and services for a simple reason: There were too many programs offering too few opportunities to earn enough points to get a free night’s stay, let alone an entire vacation.

Hotel selections are often dictated by factors such as proximity to an event or meeting.

A frequent traveler will often find it easier to consolidate flights on a single airline, particularly if a hub is near the home base, than to maneuver all his or her room nights into a single chain’s properties.

Many travelers ended up with a collection of points from a variety of programs that never reached a level where they could be redeemed.

By offering ways to redeem small amounts of points for things travelers actually want, the hotel programs can make themselves relevant again.

And hotels are not alone. United Airlines enables its not-so-frequent fliers to burn off their mileage on a wide range of quality merchandise.

It also has a partnership with Apple that allows points to be used to acquire movies, music or Macs.

Travelers who redeem their small piles of points in this way may not morph into mileage junkies, but they are likely to feel better about an airline that lets them acquire an iPad or Sennheiser headphones.


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Michele McDonald

About the Writer :: Michele McDonald

Michele McDonald is a senior editor at tnooz. She has worked as a journalist covering the travel industry for more than two decades. She is a former managing editor of Travel Weekly (US) and former editor-in-chief of Travel Distribution Report. In 2002, she founded Travel Technology Update, a newsletter for distribution professionals. She remains editor and publisher of Travel Technology Update. She also contributes to Air Transport World.



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