Collect Together

„If you travel a lot, you can also get a lot of benefits.
The programmes operate ­differently. I took a close look at the still young GHA Discovery programme in the hotel sector and Flying Blue in the air- line sector.“ Ulf-Gunnar Switalski, founder of and the German Bonus Awards

The GHA Discovery programme – a cooperation of smaller hotel groups – has been available for around two years and is convincing me more and more. It comes with some interesting benefits and is ­currently the most generous loyalty programme at Elite Status. Basically, it unites almost 40 brands of more than 800 hotels in 100 countries, including NH Hotels with even 350 hotels in 30 countries alone, here under the name NH Discovery.

For me, the most important advantages are two elements: Discovery Dollars (D$) and the enhanced status level. The former means that instead of earning points, you earn D$ as a new digital reward currency at each GHA hotel and can redeem them on future stays, for your hotel room, upgrades, dining, the spa, etc. The percentage that you can redeem increases with your stay. The creditable percentage, increases with membership level, starting from 4 to 7 per cent. Status levels are Silver, Gold, Platinum and Titanium. New members immediately receive silver status and are entitled to benefits from their first stay on. You can advance by the number of nights you stay, the amount you spend on purchases or the number of hotel brands you have stayed in. Titanium is worth it for the double upgrade alone. And: once a year you can give your Titanium status to a friend or family member as a gift. The Titanium status is already available with 15,000 USD annual turnover in the GHA Discovery Hotels or if you generate 30 nights or if you stay in three different brands (NH unfortunately only counts as one brand). So you can be Titanium with just three nights and get the status for two. That is strong. And as a holder of an American Express Platinum Card, you can get Platinum status immediately. In my opinion, GHA Discovery is one of the most attractive and modern programmes for elite customers.

Status points for social projects

Flying Blue is the joint loyalty programme of Air France and KLM. It offers a variety of ways to earn and spend miles and has some interesting innovations. The easiest way is still to use it to earn miles when flying, with any airline in the Sky Team alliance of 35 flying partners.
As with Miles & More, miles are credited on Air France and KLM flights based on ticket prices. The number of miles ­earned then depends on the membership status; as an Explorer you get 4 miles per euro, as a Platinum 8 miles. For all flights offered by the other Flying Blue and Sky Team partners, the amount of miles is based on distance, booking class and the Elite Bonus.

In addition to Miles, Flying Blue offers Experience Points (XP). Silver status comes with 100 XP, Gold at 180 XP and for ­Platinum 300 XP. From Gold status on, it‘s off to the lounge.
The status is always valid for twelve months, with soft landing, in which you only drop one level if you don‘t collect XP. And those who have collected more XP than necessary take them with them into the next twelve months. That is generous.

Innovative: XPs are not only collected by flying, but also by supporting charitable organisations or sustainability initiatives. The number of partners here and in general is ­growing, also with car rentals, shopping, event tickets and hotel chains. Among the latter, the partnership with ALL Accor stands out: If you activate the Miles+Points option, you earn extra points both when you stay in an Accor hotel and when you fly. The partnership with Membership Rewards from American Express is also interesting: here you can ­convert your miles into Flying Blue miles at a ratio of 5:4, usually even in a few minutes. New is the mile pooling “Flying Blue Family“. A pool can consist of eight members: two adults and up to six members under the age of 18. The “Family Leader“ can transfer miles from the accounts of the other members to his or her own account at any time.
It is important to know that Flying Blue is a dynamic mileage programme: the number of miles you use for your ticket ­depends on the demand on the desired day of travel. It is there­fore worth booking early and being flexible.­­ The new inter­active ­Rewards Map is also practical here. Here you enter how many miles you would like to redeem and receive currently available one-way ­destinations. For me, Flying Blue is one of the innovative, attractive European loyalty programmes, and I am not alone in this opinion. The programme has already won several awards at the German Bonus Awards. ▫

Ulf-Gunnar Switalski …

… is a book author, editor of “Upgrade Guru“, founder of the
German Bonus Awards and constantly travels the world himself. He has been involved with bonus programmes for customer retention and loyalty for more than 30 years.



Fotos: © invincible_bulldog

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