Contrary to the saying, “You can’t get something for nothing,” sometimes you can. As airlines need to put bums in seats, hotels need to put heads in beds, and loyalty programs help accomplish this by encouraging repeat visits.

But does one type of program offer better value to the consumer over the other?

According to industry insider Steve Allmen, Co-founder and President of Loyalty & Co., hotel programs give you more ways to earn benefits like free stays, and often get you there faster than traditional airline programs.

“Hotels have done a really good job of integrating other earn methods, apart from a stay, into their programs. Credit card partnerships, ties with other loyalty programs — any way that they can create linkage back into their business, they do, and sometimes that means going outside their four walls. Hotels have done this better than anybody in the loyalty space.”

A range of choice

Hotel chains also have properties to suit a wide range of consumers so that you can find a fit that works. “There are different levels of hotels in lots of locations,” says Allmen. “This offers value to regular customers and infrequent customers. Hotels are interested in the business traveller, but they’re also interested in people doing a staycation or family getaway.”

A good piece of advice from Allmen is to consolidate your hotel spend or loyalty earn. Not only will you earn rewards quicker, but hotel programs are able to better show their love for your loyalty. “What makes hotel loyalty programs unique is that they can better leverage their inventory, while offering more points at certain times, controlling the full guest experience, and running promotions like dine-and-stay,” he says. “Rewarding loyalty is a core tenet of their business.”

And when it comes to redeeming those hard-earned points? “You might actually get better value staying in a hotel for a week with almost the same amount of spend as you would get to take one flight from Toronto to Vancouver,” says Allmen.