PointsHound has begun rolling out their Double Dip program for hotel reservations that I detailed earlier. The guys gave me access to their test website so I could look around and see how it’s going to work, giving me the chance to take the screenshots below.
As a reminder, Double Dip is the opportunity to book eligible stays while still earning miles through PointsHound. They get a commission for each reservation that they then use to buy miles and deposit in your favorite loyalty program. PointsHound is accepting a smaller commission (and thus awarding fewer miles) in order to be able to offer eligible rates that still earn you all the elite benefits, stay credit, and hotel points that you would get if you booked directly with the hotel. In my opinion, this is a game changer.
However, please remember this is a soft launch. Only select members have access right now, and the Double Dip program will, for the time being, only operate in Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, Atlanta, and Dallas. Participating hotels currently include Hyatt, Starwood, Hilton, Marriott, and IHG. Not necessarily every property from each of those programs and in each of those markets is part of the soft launch right now.
Something like this has few precedents, and they will be manually checking with both the corporate loyalty program and the individual hotels after each booking to confirm that you will be receiving your elite benefits, including stay credit and points. Once the kinks are worked out, it will roll out to more people in more places.
You’ll still make a reservation like normal. In my test scenario, I tried to book a room in Seattle for April 16-18. You can see there’s an offer here for the W Seattle with an orange “Double Dip” logo in the corner and confirmation that SPG Eligible rates are available. However, the DoubleTree Arctic Club does not have such rates (they might in the future, just not right now). Hover over the information icon and the Double Dip policy is explained.
When I click through, I first see the standard rates that inclue the most miles earned for each booking. These are not the SPG eligible rates. They are the usual rates you would see if you went to any other third-party website like Expedia or Orbitz. The earnings rate with PointsHound is 7.3 miles per dollar on the cheapest room.
However, I click on the tab for Double Dip and get a new page. Notice that the room and rate descriptions are different because the source of these rates is not the same. However, the lowest $270 rate is still present in both cases. The number of miles is also slightly less to accommodate the lower commission that these eligible rates provide. The earnings rate is now 6.7 miles per dollar. That’s still awfully good, and I’m surprised the discount isn’t larger. I would be willing to give up 0.6 miles per dollar any day if it meant getting my stay credit and hotel points!
You’ll also notice that there are some special rates like a AAA breakfast package and some flexible rates that don’t need to be prepaid. These rates weren’t available on the standard tab that we saw first. Again, it’s because PointsHound is drawing from a different inventory system when it provides SPG eligible vs. non-eligible rates.
When I click through to the purchase page, I get another confirmation that my rate will be eligible to earn both miles through PointsHound and all your elite benefits from SPG. I’ll need to provide your loyalty program number to complete the booking so they can pass it on to the hotel. I did mention that they should consider letting people store their account numbers with PointsHound and even adjust their status so PointsHound can estimate the number of hotel points they’ll be earning. That’s on the drawing board but isn’t fully implemented just yet.
Finally, I did a test booking through SPG.com just to see if the rates differed at all. Nope! I found the same $270 rate when I tried to book this room directly from Starwood, so PointsHound appears to be able to offer the same hotel, the same prices, and the same hotel elite benefits. But, when you book through PointsHound you also get a couple thousand airline miles. I think that’s a pretty good deal, and I can’t wait until I’m able to try it out for real.
Update: The PointsHound founders would love to hear some suggestions for which markets they should tackle next! Hopefully it won’t be long before you can use this service everywhere.