Marriott's frequent-guest program ranks No. 1 among hotel loyalty programs, shows a new consumer survey released Friday.
Marriott Rewards received an overall customer satisfaction score of 707 on a 1,000-point scale, according to the first hotel-program survey by market research company JD Power.
Consumers like Marriott's program because, among other reasons, it includes thousands of hotels that "provide a lot of opportunity to earn and redeem points," and there are no blackout dates when redeeming points for free rooms, says JD Power's Rick Garlick.
Marriott has more than 3,900 hotels affiliated with 18 brands.
The online survey, which was sent by e-mail March 11-25, ranks 15 hotel loyalty programs and is based on responses of more than 3,800 consumers who are in at least one loyalty program.
Customer satisfaction was measured by five factors: loyalty account maintenance/management; ease of redeeming points/miles; ease of earning points/miles; reward program terms; and customer service.
InterContinental Hotels and Resorts' IHG Rewards Club ranks No. 2, and Delta Hotels and Resorts' Delta Privilege program is No. 3.
John Muehlbauer, InterContinental's loyalty programs director, says the ranking is "a reflection" of the hotel chain's work to provide what IHG Rewards members want.
Last year, the program announced free Internet service for all members at all hotels - "an industry first," he says. The program also provides a free night at more than 70% of the chain's hotels for 20,000 points or less, he says.
The Best Western Rewards program scored lowest of the 15 programs with 635. The second-lowest score was Hyatt Gold Passport's 638.
The low scores don't indicate that Best Western and Hyatt are poor programs, Garlick says.
"It just shows the competitive nature of the loyalty program landscape," he says.
Garlick says the Best Western Rewards program ranked No. 2 behind Marriott in a US News & World Report analysis last year.
Best Western did not comment about the JD Power survey.
Hyatt spokeswoman Stephanie Sheppard says the Gold Passport program "is committed to providing value for its members." They value "the numerous in-hotel benefits and the personal care that they experience at our hotels and resorts around the world."
The JD Power survey revealed that the largest percentage of hotel guests - 43 per cent of survey respondents - became aware of the loyalty programs from a hotel employee during check-in or check-out. Twenty-five per cent became aware of them at hotels' websites.
Recommendations of friends and family play an "important role" in selection of loyalty programs, JD Power says. Nearly one-fifth of survey respondents said such a recommendation was why they joined.
LOS ANGELES TIMES