Hotel Hacking – How to Get Paid to Stay in a Hotel
Hotel Hacking is for most of us an integral part of Travel Hacking and the next logical step after flight hacking.
Occasionally deals come up that are too good to be true and we just have to take advantage of them.
Here’s a real life case study on how to get outsized value from a hotel stay. By this we mean you’re better of staying in the hotel than staying at home!
It would just be rude not to make the stay in this instance! 🙂
Today I’ll be showing you one of these rare deals and how we go about optimising it.
So What is this Amazing Hotel Deal?
Hilton has a deals site with details of current deals. With the latest deal, you can book a stay at one of several Hilton properties and get 30% discount plus $100 to use on property during your stay.
The deal is valid at the following properties:
- Hilton Surfers Paradise
- Hilton Surfers Paradise Residences
- Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
- DoubleTree by Hilton Queenstown
- DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji , Sonaisali Island
- Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa
Abbreviated terms and conditions are:
Limited availability at the discounted rates. Offer is subject to availability at participating Hilton properties+ for stays booked between 1 June 2017 and 30 September 2017, and completed between 6 June 2017 and 31 March 2018. Offer requires a minimum 2-night length of stay.
On the face of it the deal looks pretty good, but not AMAZING. We’ll combine this with Hilton Hotel Status to show you how amazing it really can be! We’ll also show you how to achieve the Hilton Hotel gold status the quick way to get the benefits associated with the hotel status.
Hilton Honors Award Program and Status Benefits
I’m a huge fan of the Hilton Honors Award Program. I got Diamond Status via a status match a couple of years ago and managed to requalify based on my stays last year (actually base points earned if we’re getting technical). I’ve also bid for and won a couple of the Hilton Auctions for stays and experiences and I was fortunate to meet some of their Senior Management Team who were over from Singapore for the Melbourne Formula 1 (Hilton sponsor the McLaren Honda team) and they’re a nice bunch of people too.
Hilton Gold and Diamond Statuses give you free breakfasts even on the cheapest rates and can be combined with deals like this. You also get accelerated point earning on your spend and other benefits like room upgrades and free in-room internet.
There are a number of credit cards that give you Hilton Gold Status as part of the card benefits. These include the Amex Platinum Card, the Hilton HHonors Macquarie Platinum Card, and the Citibank Prestige Card. The other way (let’s call this the hard way!) to reach Gold is to qualify under the program by 20 stays in a calendar year, or 40 nights in a calendar year, or earning 75,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year.
So What’s So Good About this Deal?
Let’s say we can book a room for $100 and get $100 of value then the room is essentially paying us back in kind with what we outlaid. So let’s quantify the value derived and how we can actually value the benefits.
Quantifying the Value
Every decent Travel Hacker has a cavalcade of information in spreadsheets and I’m no exception. Here’s my attempt to quantify the benefits. Yours may be different and you may place a different value on some things.Hilton Queenstown Stay Calculation
|Rate for 2 days||$216||$216||Real rate found and bookable|
|Stay credit||-$100||-$100||$100 to use for dinners. lunches and spend on property|
|Breakfast||-$100||-$100||Our value of $25 per person - 2 people. 2 nights. Actual cost would be $35 per person|
|Drinks||-$40||-$40||2 free drink vouchers per person, per night - say $10 per drink. 4 Drinks Total|
|Room Upgrade||-$50||-$50||The King Deluxe Lakeview was $133 per night versus $108 per night that we paid so difference of $25 per night. 2 nights|
|Free Internet||$0||$0||Hard to Quantify. We've rated this as a zero value (no net benefit) as we're already paying for internet at home|
|Cashback (3.2%)||-$6.91||-$6.91||Cashback via Cashrewards.com.au|
|Points earned from Stay||3610||2175|
|Points value (USD)||-$18||-$11||Using the lowest cost of buying points at 0.5c USD per point|
|Points value (AUD)||-$22.41||-$13.50|
|Net Cost of Stay||-$103.32||-$94.41|
Even if we remove the upgrade calculation (i.e. you would be happy with the more basic room) the stay still pays for itself.
If we have no status and remove the free drinks and breakfasts the stay is still superb value for a getaway.
So what are we going to book here?
I stayed at the Hilton Doubletree Queenstown recently and it’s a fantastic property with a great location on the lake across from Queenstown main town centre. As a Hilton Honors member with status you can use all the facilities of the adjacent Hilton Queenstown such as their smorgasbord breakfast and spa and pool facilities. Both hotels are easily reached by water taxi or the hotel’s free shuttle buses that both run to a regular schedule.
I stayed on my own last time for work, so when I saw this incredible deal I thought let’s see if we can book it again with the family especially if there’s zero or a positive net value proposition
How to Book It
Clicking through from the Hilton Deals Site to our desired hotel, we’ll check for dates using the flexible search option. We won’t book it yet though as we can go via the Cashrewards site to get extra cashback.
Combining it with Cashrewards for Additional Cashback
You may be able to get an additional 3.2% cashback via Cashrewards.com.au. They say this will give you 3.2% cashback on the value of your stay AFTER your stay. The value of the cashback updates once your stay has been completed. I’ve had a lot of value out of using cashrewards in the past for online purchases so I have no reason to doubt this would be any different. It’s unclear whether the value is based on your actual booked amount at the time of purchase or at checkout (in case incidentals are added). The latter may be more likely as the cashback is only added once the stay has been completed, even for a pre-paid rate.
So, to take advantage of this, you’ll need to register (or login if already registered) with the cashrewards site first then search for Hilton and click on Shop Now
Once in the Hilton site, you need to enter destination and dates and click on Advanced Search
Click use Flexible Dates and then click on Add a Special Rate Code:
Enter rate plan RPHWE1
Optimise Value with a Two Night stay (or series of 2 night stays)
Default to a 2 night stay for the optimal value. as the credit is per stay with minimum 2 nights, you get $100 if your stay is one week or if it’s 2 nights. So best to have your stay in multiples of 2 days under different names. If your partner also has status (with platinum charge card, supplementary card holders also get Gold status) book two nights in your account and two nights under theirs as back to back stays are unlikely to get you an extra $100 credit.
You are unlikely to have to change rooms for the stay. The downsides of this approach though is that you lose some stays for retaining or obtaining status for the following year, and also points are spread across separate accounts. With the free Hilton family transfer option you can now transfer upto 500,000 Hilton Honors Points each year to other accounts in upto six free transfers per year.
These inconveniences are in our opinion offset by the $100 stay credit. If the extra $100 is no big deal and the nights in your account are worth more for status, then just book all nights under a single account. But it does partly defeat the challenge and satisfaction of travel hacking!
Flexible Searching to Optimise Value
So searching using the flexible search option we find the optimal pricing for our 2 night stay:
As we have status we can book the lowest priced room and know there’s a good chance of getting upgraded to the King Deluxe Below (the difference is only $25 per night so you can book The King Deluxe if that’s important to you but again it removes some of the value from the hotel hack):
So we now proceed and book our room content in the knowledge that it would cost us more to just stay at home!
Hilton Deal Update
I just noticed that for some of the hotel options such as DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Fiji – Sonaisali Island, although the minimum stay period in the terms and conditions is 2 days, the rates are only showing if you search for 4 days or more. So if you can’t see availability for the hotel of your choice for your dates, try extending the dates out a bit.
Will you be using this hotel hack and where will you be going?
Comments and Questions below…