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By David Grady

In a bit of a hurry? Here’s a handy infographic for a summary on loyalty program success.

Wouldn’t it be easier if you could declare loyalty to just one airline, just one hotel brand, and just one car rental company, and use each exclusively when traveling for business? Imagine the critical mass of loyalty points you’d earn as you travel the world on behalf of your organization while climbing the corporate ladder. After a while, with all those points, all your personal “bucket-list” destinations would be within easy reach.

Sadly for you, though, (and me) most companies have travel polices that demand you use their reservation systems to book the cheapest available room, reserve the smallest car, and choose the least expensive flight with multiple layovers – which means that all of those points you earn are probably going to be spread across multiple travel and hospitality companies.

Yes, your employer appreciates your willingness to travel for them, but they need to control costs — so you need a strategy to maximize the benefits of the many points programs you sign up for along the way.

It takes some effort – but not too much effort

Here are some of my tips for earning, and reaping, rewards without getting overwhelmed:

  • Schedule a quarterly review of your accounts: At the start of each quarter – the first week of January, April, July and October – literally add an appointment to your diary to review your programme balances and your redemption options. Be sure to know when your points will expire: you may not have enough points for a free flight or an upgrade to penthouse hotel suite in Dubai, but with loyalty programmes like IHG Rewards® Club, you can take your pick and redeem points from a huge selection of goodies and gadgets. Holiday gift shopping just got so much easier.
  • It’s all about the apps: Be sure to download smartphone apps for all the loyalty programmes you’ve joined and sign up for e-mail notifications that remind you about how many points you’ve earned — and what your redemption options are.
  • Book direct with the hotel: Membership in a hotel loyalty programme often provides access to exclusive rates for overnight stays when you book directly with the hotel. If your corporate travel/credit card policy allows it, consider booking directly to keep costs down while maximizing your rewards.
  • A special tip for event planners: I was an event planner for several years earlier in my career (when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), and I always gravitated toward hotels that let me earn points for personal use when booking rooms, facilities and services on behalf of others. Check out the IHG® Business Rewards so you don’t miss out on earning points for yourself. They are giving away 1,000 points when you sign up as a member now.

So invest a little time and energy into your loyalty programmes, and thank yourself with the benefits and rewards.