The upcoming Expedia One Key program sucks.
But it’s not as if the current state of Expedia travel rewards programs is faring much better:
But before we get into my experience with hotels.com, and how it will be affected by the Expdia One Key program, let’s take a brief gander at my tribulations with some other OTAs (online travel agencies).
Waaaayyy back in the day, when I was living in East Asia, I would pretty much always use Agoda. The interface was simple; the customer service was difficult. Nevertheless, as that website was based in Bangkok, the Agoda kraken was conveniently present throughout much of the region.
If you try to use Agoda now, it looks like your average straight-out-of China app or software; very spammy-looking, with jetsam (in the form of ads) all over the place.
Take a chill pill, Agoda.
Once I returned to the U.S., Orbitz became my go-to. Although it was best for North America, they were in enough locations around the world for my booking tendencies. Plus, the Orbucks were instant, and flight bookings often came with a 24-hour free cancellation policy (which was frequently more than 24 hours, depending on when you booked).
Orbitz was bought by Expedia in 2015, which is coincidentally around the time I started using Booking.com. (I still use Orbitz for some flight bookings, precisely because of the 24-hour cancellation policy.)
Booking.com has awful customer service in my experience, but they do have a vast amount of properties.
But again, it was due to the apathetic customer service agents that I began looking for alternatives to help whittle down the wallet.
I suppose with a name like that, how could I have evaded using hotels.com for so long? I don’t know.
But, I quickly made it to the highest hotels.com (gold) status, in spite of having had to deal with a lot of call center/chatbot stupidity — and very few useful representatives — along the way.
Their rewards program was thus– book 10 nights, get one reward night based on the average price of those 10 nights (pre-taxes and fees). More importantly, you weren’t restricted to just one hotel chain for the award redemption.
Oh, and hotels.com is also owned by Expedia.
This brings me to crux of today’s post, the Expedia One Key program.
Sometime later this year — purportedly this summer — One Key will be taking over the Expedia.com and Hotels.com travel rewards programs, as well as simultaneously becoming the first travel rewards program for Vrbo (unlike airbnb, Vrbo does stand-alone vacation homes only).
In effect, One Key will Orbitzify the three OTAs, doling out its own version of Orbucks, called OneKeyCash, to immediately use on a subsequent booking.
Direct from vrbo’s website:
As a One Key member, earn 2% in OneKeyCash for every $1 spent1 on eligible stays, car rentals, activities, packages, and cruises. Earn 0.2% in OneKeyCash for every $1 spent1 on eligible flight bookings in addition to any airline loyalty program earnings. For example, you will earn $10 in OneKeyCash on $500 of spend.”
Then, there are the One Key status multipliers, if you are Silver, Gold, or Platinum.
For a member at the lowest rung, that means two cents on the dollar for hotel stays, and 1/10th of that for flight bookings.
How about this. Let me keep my accounts separate. I have never booked vrbo, let alone airbnb– and given the stricter regulations/unresponsive hosts/miscommunications with how to get in/go out — and hopefully never will.
That’s a 1/3rd of my redemption opportunities put out to pasture.
And how about this. Get customer service representatives who don’t ask for my itinerary number, and who are able to follow the conversation chain when the baton is invariably passed from one lackey to the next. Don’t you have computers over in those offshore call centers? Why doesn’t the account auto-populate once you know with whom you’re talking?
By the way, if you, too have Silver/Gold status with hotels.com, this not-so-fine print from the vrbo page will win you over yet:
- Our Price Guarantee Plus benefit for Silver and Gold members will be ending.
- The free upgrade to Avis Preferred Plus membership status will be paused.
Expedia thought of everything!
Consequently, I’m scouting other OTAs (that will inevitably do something similar). Do you generally book at the hotel site, or is the Expedia One Key program also going to mess with your routine?