Never put all your eggs in one loyalty basket.

Turning a booking blunder into lucrativeness.

I made a huge booking blunder in October that should have cost me close on R100,000 to fix. I somehow put all my Hilton Hhonors points into the wrong dates for a speculative up coming Dec/Jan trip to Makkah, Saudi Arabia. This is normal as point bookings can be cancelled up to a day before check-in, so it cant be a loss right? I had about 4 counties on my wish list to go to for maybe 10-30 free nights.

When TraveLoyalty got the Pointbreak list from IHG ( we usually post this 1st in the world the week before IHG’s website has it up) in late October, Crowne Plaza in Medina was again featured. Game, set, almost match. ( Pointbreaks are a list of hotels up for grabs at a 5000 point per night steal, most subscribers spent R2800 in a challenge to get 20x free nights on this special that’s how lucrative it is, you can even buy the points for $29 per 5000.). So there I put my IHG points into 36 speculative nights over a 30 day period in order to hunt for the best tickets and stop overs as usual.

I have a huge following of travel agents using TraveLoyalty who have benefited with Hiltons points bookings with elite status that gets every 5th night free. I advised everyone who contacted me regarding Umra for December peak to take advantage of this in the same manner we advised many to do their Ramadhaan period booking and avoid R120,000 per 10 days.


Every 5th night free makes this room 24,000 points per night effectively. A Hilton HHonors elite perk.

When I finally got a chance after visas opened to check my bookings I found I booked the wrong dates, a month before peak period. What costly a mistake !

I scored on local flights, R2 return with Flysafair from earlier bookings.

I scored with direct flights that Flight Centre beat ( or you fly free as per their policy) that even gave me a R5600 cash back.

I scored on local internal Saudia flights for free ( try multi city booking jnb-med-jed-jnb and you’ll see what I mean).

I scored on Medina accommodation for free, the longest stay I ever had in one hotel which I had been waiting for two years to book.

but, I hit a bad miss with the Hilton dates and when I looked the availability was gone, everyone I advised got in. The only option was cash rates to the tune of R100,000 for 10 nights.

There is so many branded hotels coming up in this city its hard to keep up. Looking else where, wow, the benefit I found. Newer hotels like Marriott and Hyatt were up and running. Cash rates were at peak to semi-peak, points bookings was all time great way to book.

This is how I split the days and how I booked it + leveraging my elite status to upgrade. (I’ve previously published the ultimate guide to Upgrades, check it out.)

5 days Marriott Makkah purely on points.

The remainder of days I could stretch in at Hyatt Makkah on points+cash rate.

Marriott Makkah booking:

Every 5th night free perk for elites.

Every 5th night free perk for elites.

Upgraded to a:

That's ZAR 15,000 per night room only.

That’s ZAR 15,000 per night room only.

marriotmakkahWhich has a total worth of:

In total the normal cost would be ZAR 78,500 for the 5 nights.

In total the normal cost would be ZAR 78,500 for the 5 nights.

Executive lounge was not opened yet for elites so anything on the menu was complimentary such as:


Hyatt Makkah booking:

Points + cash had the best rate to book here.

Points + cash had the best rate to book here.

Upgraded to a:

That's R33,000 per night !

That’s R33,000 per night !

hyattroomWhich had a total worth of:

A cool ZAR 165,500 for the stay.

Regency lounge was not opened yet for elites so anything on the menu was complimentary such as:

You want this.

You want this.

All in all I got stay value worth ZAR 243,700  ($ 15,700)

and I paid only ZAR 7,770 ($ 501) …

Check the other perk pics out on Instagram : traveloyalty

Would you like top tier Hyatt Diamond or Marriott Platinum? Email us to find out all the information and perks extended.

marriott plat

hyatt card2Some inside tips:

You can buy 50,000 Marriott reward points for $625 per annum.

You can buy 55,000 Hyatt Goldpassport points for  $1350 per annum (they have bonus point sales too)

or you can earn them with promotions on stays that stack and swell with the elite statuses.

When you book on points you save on taxes, read this article if you have missed it previously.

The perks for all the hotel chains can be found HERE.

Full trip reports will be sent out in the coming weeks. Please look out for it.