(Road Warrior Voices) – It doesn’t take a lot of work to be loyal to Marriott, Hilton or IHG. If you stumble into a town – any town – you’re reasonably likely to wind up at one of their hotels. On the other hand, it takes work to be loyal to programs that are smaller like Starwood Preferred Guest and Hyatt Gold Passport. That’s why smaller programs have to try harder. They need to give you a reason to be loyal.
US News offers a ranking of the best hotel rewards programs. It isn’t very good. (In fairness, the attempt is better than their airline frequent flyer program rankings.)
JD Power also tries to rank hotel loyalty programs.
The key thing to understand is that different programs do different things well – to understand the value proposition of each, and pick the one whose strengths match what you value most.