The Money-Can’t-Buy Experiences Hotel Groups Are Rewarding Loyal Guests With

Want to see Bruce Springsteen in concert next year? And in a tiered grandstand seat close to the stage with access to VIP lounges. Even though it’s sold out? Hanging out at fashion shows? Or perhaps play tennis with stars such as Daniela Hantuchova or Xavier Malisse?

Join any of the major hotel loyalty programs – such as Hilton Honors or IHG’s One, and if you keep returning, rewards can include room upgrades, late checkout and free breakfasts, tapping into a basic human to feel appreciated.

But what about the kind of guest who routinely books a hotel’s best suite? Over the past year, the two behemoths of the hotel world – Marriott and Accor – have been engendering loyalty with one-off experiences, including private tuition from top chefs to wildlife conservation, private boxes at NFL and concert venues.

The Fairmont Le Montreux Palace Hotel has been an integral part of the Montreux Jazz Festival since it started in 1967; including housing leading performers from Miles Davies and Ella Fitzgerald to current headliners. As such, getting tickets has never been a problem, but now there are dedicated bars, back stage access and more.

More in this case was – at this year’s festival – pioneering a money-can’t-buy experience with as a tour of the festival founder Claude Nobs’s mountain top chalet above Montreux, complete with David Bowie self-portraits and Freddie Mercury’s kimono and over 50 years of recordings, with the hotel’s chefs providing an al fresco dinner, plus a private performance from Celeste the night before she performed at the festival.

These blockbuster experiences are usually designed for corporate customers but are eminently suitable for the as part of its Accor Live Limitless (ALL) loyalty program of the luxury hotel portfolio which also includes Raffles, Sofitel, Orient Express and the Ennismore group.

In many ways, the new ultra-luxury experiences offered by Accor and Marriott (whose brands include Ritz-Carlton, St Regis, the W and Edition hotels) are an extension of the luxury hotel’s expertise in all matters experiential and exclusive, allied to a concierge’s time-honored skill in sourcing tickets to sold-out events.

“Our guests want luxury experiences to have a meaningful impact on them as a person. Accor Live Limitless is about crafting moments that matter, that shape a stay and become memories that last a lifetime.” says Ruth Finnis, VP Loyalty & Partnerships, Accor Northern Europe.

This summer, Accor was also one of the lead sponsors of the BST Festival in London’s Hyde Park, with privileged access to performances by the Rolling Stones, Adele and Elton John. Accor will continue sponsorship with BST into 2023, where the first headliner announced will be Bruce Springsteen on July 6 and 8.

Seeing Adele at BST in the summer 2022 costs 42,000 points for two tickets, with full hospitality, in a grandstand area and other VIP perks, which, in monetary terms equates to about 840 euros/$837. Accor clearly sees ALL as a chance to reward loyalty rather than charge a market rate.

ALL, which launched in December 2019 – prices its experiences in a straightforward way – and some of them – like the BST concerts – represent remarkable value; two tickets in September to see Arcade Fire in Paris, in a private box, with meals and wine costs 7000 points. Like airline loyalty programs there are different tiers, from entry level Classic to the highest tier of Diamond.

Marriott’s Bonvoy Moments – which launched in February 2019 – has an equally mouthwatering set of rewards for guests who notch up enough stays. This year, it joined forces with the Giorgio Armani Tennis Classic at the Hurlingham Club outside London with members of Bonvoy able to use their points to both attend – and play matches – with professional players.

Upcoming concerts in the Bonvoy program include seeing both Florence & The Machine and Billy Joel from the Marriott box at Madison Square Gardens. In October, there are three-day passes to the City Limits Festival in Austin on offer, with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kacey Musgraves and Pink but also including unlimited access to the VIP Grove, gourmet happy hour from local restaurants, catered lunch and dinner , your own dedicated entrance lane and more. Bidding started at 50,000.

There’s a competitive element to some of Marriott’s Bonvoy, especially the Moments. In October there’s a chance to be at a practice, qualifying or race day at the Formula 1 in Kyoto, Japan, meeting some of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1, access to the team lounge, food, and a grandstand view, plus other niceties . Bidding started at 30,000 points but at the time of writing, with seven days to go, the raceday package is, after 54 bids, already at 850,000 points.

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