I started to understand more about elite status for hotels on my first stay in the Hilton Tokyo hotel back in 2007. We were staying 10 nights in Tokyo and I wanted the stay there to be comfortable as possible for myself and my wife as it was a “baby moon” before our first child was born in 2008 and also because it was the start of our first world trip.

I researched the hotels – not knowing anything about status, benefits etc – and found the Hilton Tokyo hotel in the CBD. During that time I found the price to be $300 AUD per night. This was actually quite expensive and if you multiple it by 10 – then it costed us $3000 for those 10 nights. Plus I had no benefits – so I made sure that breakfast was included in the package.

Now roughly for 10 nights – I spent $3000 – so with Hilton you each 10x points per dollar you spend. So I received about 30,000 points. This would also lift me up from the basic Hilton level (Blue) to the Silver level. Not much benefits with the Silver – but I did get 30K Hilton HHonors points. During that time you needed 40,000 Hilton points to stay at the Conrad Hong Kong hotel. So my initial thought was – stay at least 10 nights and I would get one free stay at a nice hotel.

Of course that was the slow way to do things because I didn’t know anything else. Had I applied what I know now and had a strategy in place – I would have earned Hilton Gold status and at least double the amount of points – I would have gotten at 60K points!

But I will always cherish my first Hilton stay and my entry into all things “Luxury” hotels.

Today there are more possibilities and strategies that can be implemented to gain your elite status almost immediately through promotions. Hilton currently has a promotion where if you have four hotel stays within 90 days – you earn Hilton Gold membership. This enables you to have breakfast, executive lounge access and possible room upgrade – thus possibly doubling your value of the basic hotel room you paid for.

Once you receive a Gold (or equivalent membership) on one hotel chain – you can then do a status match with some of the other hotels. I’ve been able to call other hotel programs and matched Starwood hotels, Hyatt and IHG. There are many others that you can try – but they are the main hotel chains that I am apart of.

Does it make sense to be loyal to one program? I would advise to have at least 2 programs you are apart of. You would have a main hotel program (Hilton for me) and then a backup hotel chain (Hyatt) if the main is not available in that city or country that you are in.

When you know where you are going – my advice is to not just look at the price of hotel – but what you can get out of it. By having some foresight in terms of benefits and points you will receive – cheap isn’t always necessarily better. In many cases I’ve found – the more expensive luxury hotels will provide you with rooms and upgrade and the points you receive may even pay for another room later on. There are ongoing hotel promos. Many hotel programs have double or triple points on offer if you stay within a certain period.

Also figure out how many trips/hotels you will be staying in throughout the year? So cities maybe littered with Hilton but no Hyatt hotels. So it may make more sense to stay at Hilton to earn more points and benefits.

I personally always figure out what is my best point earning potential for a hotel. So it will not be based primarily on the price. If you know how to get the best maximum benefit for your points to redeem – staying at luxury hotel chains makes much more sense than staying in other independent hotels where there is no hotel loyalty program.