The beginning of a new year is the best time to determine your hotel and airline of choice. I have many friends that travel a lot, but don’t have one airline or one hotel chain that they frequent. The problem with that is that you will never gain the benefits of being loyal to a brand. Once you obtain status with a brand, you gain the benefits for the remainder of the current year plus the whole of the next year. The great thing about traveling for business and getting status is using the benefits when you travel for leisure. Who would complain about a seat upgrade on a plane, complimentary breakfast at the hotel, etc.? The last hotel I stayed at even gave me a complimentary pool cabana!

So, how do you choose your airline and hotel of choice? There are several ways. For me, being that I travel mostly out of the Denver airport, United Airlines is my airline of choice. Some of my friends choose Southwest Airlines, for the benefit of the complimentary companion pass. And with the recent merger of Marriott and Starwood, there is never a place I travel to that doesn’t have a hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy portfolio. There are also several “levels” of hotels, so you can always find an option in the budget. I also have the United and Marriott credit cards, to maximize my benefits.

The best resource for updates on loyalty programs and credit cards is The Points Guy. I follow him on all social channels and read almost every article he publishes. One of his most recent articles talks about the best travel credit cards for 2020. There are some great benefits and some cards even come with a credit for TSA Pre-Check and/or Clear. You can also transfer credit card points into airline miles or hotel points, but make sure you get the best bang for your buck.

If you don’t have a preferred airline or hotel chain of choice, it’s time to make that decision. Pick one hotel chain and one airline and do your best to stick to that brand for the entire calendar year. I promise, it will be worth it!

Do you have a favorite hotel brand/airline? What about your favorite loyalty benefit? Send me a note at jennaw@idebamarketing.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Jenna Whelan, Vice President – Consulting & Research Services