Business Travel

Hotels Offer New Perks for Loyal Guests

They’re luring guests with wine tastings, art exhibits and even free Lego sets.

You might just forgive having to pay for in-room bottled water if someone hands you a glass of wine at check-in. “Hotels have realized loyalty is harder to acquire because people are looking for unique experiences,” says Sean Murphy, of Jetsetter.com. As a result, venues are trying to differentiate themselves with new and distinctive perks.

Although loyalty members get some exclusive bonuses—say, the ability to earn Starwood points on Uber rides—many perks are available to all guests. Look for wine, beer or spirit tastings paired with food at Kimpton, Sheraton and Four Points by Sheraton locations; nighttime socials at Residence Inn, Homewood Suites and Hyatt House; and curated music soundtracks or art exhibits (the Radisson Blu in Chicago has an app for guests to tour the building’s art). Hotels are partnering with other businesses so guests can sample dishes from local food trucks, say, or test-drive a luxury car. Kids staying at Le Méridien get a free Lego set, Westin guests can rent New Balance running gear, and TVs in some Marriott hotels stream Netflix. Some extras once considered bonuses are now standard, such as free Wi-Fi at midrange and low-price hotels.

Hotels are on track to collect a record $2.47 billion in fees in 2015, according to data collected by Bjorn Hanson, a professor at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism. But hotels will rarely raise the price of your room to pay for these enhanced perks, he says. To see what extras your hotel offers, follow the brand on social media and check the location’s Web page or calendar of events. Instead of using mobile check-in to skip the line, ask the front-desk manager about new programs.

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