This is just an example and perhaps a quick brag for what gets me excited… Forgive me.
In a couple weeks, I make a pretty regular trip up to Minneapolis for work. I’ll stay with family most of the time but it’s nice to toss in a couple nights in inexpensive or rewarding (or both) hotel stays now and again even if it’s just to take some of the load off family and friends that I stay with regularly. As background, our business is relatively small and, as a partner in the business, a dollar spent definitely affects both the company’s bottom line and my own so if this all seems unnecessarily frugal, at least you know my perspective.
So, I found some great rates at the Marquette Hotel in downtown Minneapolis during the week of December 16th (as low as $73 all-in). So here’s some points math to make your head spin on a $73 single night stay.
- 730 Base Hilton HHonors (HH) : 10HH / $ on spend.
- 365 HH Diamond Status Bonus : 50% bonus as a Diamond.
- 1000 Virgin Atlantic Miles : Fixed miles earnings per stay.
- 1000 HH “MyWay” bonus points : This is part of the standard Diamond member amenity.
- 500 HH Amex Booking Bonus : Paying with an Amex Hilton card yields a 500 HH per stay bonus.
- 876 HH from Amex Hilton Surpass credit Card : 12 points per dollar.
- 1000 HH : From this promo offering 1000 HH per night, any night but Tuesday or Wednesday.
- 1000 Virgin Atlantic Miles (or more) : From this promo offering 1000 to 5000 Virgin Atlantic per stay
Net: 4,471 HH + 2,000 Virgin Atlantic. Factor in that Virgin Atlantic transfer to Hilton at 1:2 and you get 8,471 HH net. That’s 116 HH per dollar spent.
Note that the final bullet starts at 1000 Virgin Atlantic on the first stay and ends at 5000 on the 5th stay. I’ll have multiple stays at rates comparable to this so my actual average net is over 130 HH per dollar.
From a valuation perspective, I tend to value HH at $.008 personally. Personally is key here. Given my Diamond status with Hilton, I tend to do pretty well on upgrades and factor that into my personal valuation. Without at least gold status (so easy to get, fwiw), I’d assign a lower valuation. Some argue as low as $.005 or $.006. A great example occurred last month at a conference… I redeemed an award for 5 nights at a Waldorf Astoria where I confirmed they didn’t have base rate rooms available under my wife’s account but my diamond status appeared to make some accessible rooms available to me at the 50k HH/night award level. That opened up a 5 night VIP (elite status) award which qualified for a 20% discount, amounting to just 40k/night (200k for all 5 nights). Further, I was upgraded to a suite whose marginal value is subject to interpretation. Upgrade aside, I yielded .008/HH on the VIP award, more if you value the upgrade. Also, for what it’s worth, that was a straight-up cost reduction for a hard business cost which enabling me to attend an important business conference and trickled through to the bottom line. Two weeks later, we closed a sale that was a direct result of attending the conference. Win.
That brings me around a bit to a topic I’ve thought about a lot… While we do a lot of fun things with points and miles, I also use them to substantially benefit our business. We can be more aggressive with high value prospects by reducing our costs, be more engaged with our market/community by being more active in conferences and events, attend more training sessions, and occasionally treat an employee a bit better than they would have been otherwise. Miles and points create tangible, real benefits to our small business. That’s not a perspective I see a lot of among the recreational travel or corporate employee bloggers but it’s worthy of some consideration.