As much as we appreciate hotel loyalty programs, accumulating points from just one hotel brand can feel like quite a slog, and a little uninspiring -- who, besides the very frequent business traveler, wants the same brand experience each and every time they check in?
Just over a year ago, Preferred Hotel Group introduced a loyalty program, iPrefer, that honors stays at the more custom, bespoke hotels over the big box brands; it's the world’s only loyalty program available at a global collection of truly independent hotels. Here's how it works, and how you can join.Travelers can join iPrefer for free by signing up at www.iprefer.com and immediately start earning benefits for each stay at more than 500 participating independent hotels worldwide. Benefits are allocated on a tier system and include points, status, and special free offerings such as complimentary Internet, priority check-in, and late check-out. Zero to 4,999 points puts you in the Silver tier, which gives you points for eligible bookings, free WiFi, and priority check-in and late check-out. Once you reach 5,000 points, you are in the Gold tier, which offers a welcome amenity and upgrades where available. The top tier, Platinum, is for travelers with over 15,000 points, which gives you all of the above benefits, plus an additional 10 percent bonus points.
What makes iPrefer's program even more distinctive is that points are redeemed for Reward Certificates that can be used like cash towards room reservations and other on-property expenditures. Once you're a member, you'll earn one point for every dollar spent at participating hotels. Then, when you have accumulated at least 2,500 points, you can exchange those points for Reward Certificates with a starting value of US$50 (also available in British pounds and euros) and redeemable at every participating property. You just print your certificate, or save it on your phone, and present it at check-in to use toward payment for a room or, in some hotels, at the restaurant or spa.
Since the program's launch in August last year, more than 50 more hotels have signed on to the program. The newest hotels where iPrefer members can earn benefits are also some of the newest hotels on the market including the just-open SLS Las Vegas, The Beaumont Hotel (London, opening October 2014), Montage Kapalua Bay (Maui), Buddha Bar Paris (France), the newly opened CasaSur Bellini Hotel (Buenos Aires, opened in April), and Miramar Hotel by Windsor (Rio de Janeiro). Find a full list of participating hotels here.