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Every day I am on the road I sleep in a different hotel. Every day I check in. Every day I unpack. Every day I pack. Every day I check out. Every day is a trip in itself as I make my way from hotel to hotel. Sometimes the hotels are 30 miles apart. Sometimes the hotels are right next door to each other. Why, do you ask? Why would a sane person subject themselves to this maddening routine? Sadistic? Some obsessive-compulsive disorder? No. I do it for points and status and if you are serious about earning points then you should consider doing it too.
Benefits of Hopping
So how much of a difference can hopping really make? A lot. Most reward program benefits are based on stays not days. To maximize the points provided by these programs you need to transition from staying at a hotel for 4 nights into 4 individual single-night stays. Four 500 point platinum amenities, for the four individual stays, at Starwood will net you an additional 1,500 points for the week. At Hyatt, a 2,500 point MasterCard promotional award coupled with a G2 2,000 point welcome award results in an additional 13,500 points for the week. Not only will more points be earned but you will also be able to achieve program statuses faster and acquire free nights that are often given away after 2 stays.
Help for the Hopper
Having done the hotel hop for quite some time, I have learned a few things that might be of benefit to you:
Unpack just what you need for that day. My next day’s clothes and toiletry bag is all I take out of suitcase. I keep everything else in the suitcase so that I can get check out as quickly as possible in the morning.
Try to pick hotels near each other. Sometimes this is not possible but when it is it will make your travelling that much easier.
If you have the luxury of having a car on your trip then the transporting of your luggage between hotels is relatively easy. For those who do not have a car, I recommend bringing an empty duffel bag in your checked-in luggage. To hop between two hotels in downtown San Francisco, Hotel A and Hotel B, I would go to Hotel A on Monday with my all of my belongings. At checkout, I would check-in my suitcase at the hotel and carry with me my duffel bag to Hotel B. My duffel bag contained my clothes for the next day, my toiletry bag, and anything else I might need for the following day. When I return to Hotel A on Wednesday, I would retrieve my checked-in suitcase and then repeat the duffel bag shuffle for Thursday.
Until you get into a routine I would recommend tracking where you are going to be each day. At the end of a long work day you might not be at your sharpest and as a result you may end up at the wrong hotel. Yes, it has happened to me.
Hopping can be in the same hotel chain or it can be a combination of hotel chains. Beginning in September, I will be hopping every other night between two Hyatt properties for the pending Faster Free Nights promotion. This is in contrast to my time in Charlotte where I hopped between the Starwood and Hyatt brands in an effort to achieve Platinum and Diamond statuses, respectively.
Stay up-to-date on promotions and be sure to read them carefully. When I first started hopping there was a Hilton promotion that I thought was going to allow me to earn a fair number of airline miles. After hopping between Hiltons a few times and not seeing any miles, I read the promotion more closely. I was dismayed to learn that the stays had to be at least two days in length. Check the fine print and be sure your hopping doesn’t leave you hopping mad.
I have been upgraded to suites numerous times while hopping. Arriving later in the evening seemed to improve my chances for the upgrade as any potential high-rollers would likely have arrived by then. With only a single night stay, hotels are more likely to give you the suite as opposed to a multi-day stay traveler since they will at least have a chance to rent the room the next day.
There have been reports that hotels on the same system, such as Dallas Starwood hotels, may not recognize different stays in different hotels. I will look into this further and provide a comment to this post if I can find out more.
If you are serious about points, and what they can provide, then you should consider hotel hopping. It only took me a week or two to adjust to the hopping lifestyle. The transition was made a lot easier with the substantial increase in points, status, and upgrades. I am sure you will agree once you drink the Kool-Aid.
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