What do you prefer when it comes to hospitality choices? If it’s rewards points, the world’s largest independent hotel brand, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, may have the right thing at the right time.

Preferred Hotels recently rolled out its innovative, yet straight forward I Prefer Alliance this month. The smart new loyalty platform allows independent hotels and regional hotel groups to extend full benefits of popular I Prefer Hotel Rewards to members signing up for their distinctive guest benefit programs.

Featuring a simple and transparent point exchange structure, I Prefer Alliance allows partner hotels to incentivize their respective loyalty members by extending access to more than 650 additional destinations across 85 countries where guests can earn and redeem points and, at the same time, enjoy other valuable benefits during every eligible stay.

The hotel company is piloting the program through Tokyu Hotels – one of Japan’s principal hotel groups, with 44 properties across the country and more than 700,000 Tokyu Comfort Members.

“As Preferred Hotels & Resorts entered its 51st year of championing the independent hotel experience, we identified an opportunity to further support our hotel partners’ individual goals related to fostering more impactful guest loyalty,” said Jeri Salazar, Vice President of Loyalty, Preferred Hotels & Resorts. “I Prefer Alliance was created to provide independent hotels with the flexibility to personalize their own programs in a way that would help drive more loyalty from their current members, while creating more visibility for partner properties and all hotels that participate in I Prefer among a growing and highly engaged travel community who prefer authentic, inspiring travel experiences. We look forward to integrating more hotel partners into I Prefer Alliance globally in the months ahead.”

Introduced as a points-based model in August 2013, I Prefer is the world’s largest global points-based loyalty program for independent hotels and, as of January, enrolled more than three million members. Benefits include points that can be exchanged for cash-value I Prefer Reward Certificates, as well as elite status and additional benefits, such as priority early check-in/late check-out, room upgrade based on availability, and complimentary internet upon every eligible stay at more than 650 participating properties worldwide. In 2018, the program produced a 24% bump in reservations revenue and a 31% increase in stays to participating hotels, as compared to 2017.

Through I Prefer Alliance, partners can extend the full benefits of I Prefer Hotel Rewards to members of their respective programs upon every eligible stay. The points exchange structure for each Alliance partnership will be specific to the structure of each individual partner’s program.

As an incentive, all Tokyu Comfort Members will receive two Comfort Points for every $1 spent on net room reservations when they book any hotel outside Japan through a dedicated offer page on PreferredHotels.com or voice reservations line.

In addition, I Prefer members visiting Japan will now be able to earn 25 I Prefer points per $1 spent on net room reservations, as well as redeem I Prefer Reward Certificates, at 19 participating Tokyu hotels, four of which are members of Preferred Hotels & Resorts: The Capitol Hotel Tokyu, Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel, Kyoto Tokyu Hotel, and Nagoya Tokyu Hotel.


A recent review of I Prefer by U.S. News & World Report offered this at-a-glance list of the program’s Pros and Cons:

Pros:

•Contains the world's largest independent hotel network
•Upon enrolling, members receive Insider benefits, including complimentary internet access and early check-in and late checkout
•Can earn points for other charges at select properties, such as spa treatments, dining at hotel restaurants, gift shop purchases and more

Cons:

•Limited ways to redeem accumulated points
•Not all participating hotels accept I Prefer reward certificates for dining, spa services and other charges
•Maintaining Elite membership status requires earning a large number of points each year

(Photo: The Capitol Hotel Tokyu)