The Global Hotels Alliance (GHA) has launched its new, updated program – now known as GHA Discovery.
GHA Discovery has been ‘leaking’ information about the program over the last month or so. We have previously covered the new paths to status, and their new ‘currency’, Discovery Dollars. Now that the program has launched, we will bring the details together in this post.
Global Hotels Alliance (GHA)
First off, let’s take a quick look at the who and what of the Global Hotels Alliance. They are basically a coalition of a number of smaller chains, that to some extent operate independently of each other, even if they have a common loyalty program. Overall, there are 37 member chains, that operate under the GHA banner, with a bit of skew toward higher-end properties. In terms of global spread, they have a fairly solid footprint in Europe and Asia, with less of a presence in North America.
Brands that come under the GHA Discovery program include the likes of Viceroy, The Sukhothai, Pan Pacific, Parkroyal, Kempinski, and Marco Polo. Until recently, Rydges and QT hotels were also in the program, however, they have split from the program now. On the other hand, NH Hotels will be joining the program next year.
Overall, GHA Discovery has taken a new look at the way the program operates. In doing so, it has revamped the status proposition of the program. In doing so, it has reworked the requirements of attaining status, and made tweaks to what members can expect at the different status levels.
Secondly, they have reworked the rewards aspect of the program. While the old program focussed on ‘local experiences’, in the new program a program currency (Discovery Dollars) has been introduced, which will provide more flexible reward options.
Finally, they have made some changes aimed at driving business from customers that are not actually staying in the hotels. So, you can expect some rewards for dining in one of the hotel restaurants outside of a stay.
Under the GHA Discovery program, there are four levels. On joining, you enter at the Silver Level, and from there make your way up through Gold, Platinum, on your way up to Titanium.
GHA measures your status in one of three ways. The number of nights you spend in a GHA hotel, the amount you spend, or the number of different brands you stay in. The measures for the different levels are:
- Gold – Stay 2 times or spend $US1,000
- Platinum – Stay 10 nights, spend $US5,000 or stay at 2 brands
- Titanium – Stay 30 nights, spend $US15,000 or stay at 3 brands
The benefits of the levels are as follows:
Earning Discovery Dollars: You earn Discovery Dollars based on your status:
- Silver – 4%
- Gold – 5%
- Platinum – 6%
- Titanium – 7%
- Platinum – ‘Enhanced’ room
- Titanium – double upgrade (subject to availability).
Late Check-Out/Early Check-in
- Platinum – Check-out up to 3 pm
- Titanium – Check-in From 11 am Checkout up to 4 pm.
- Platinum and Titanium members are eligible for a Welcome Amenity
Discovery Dollars are the ‘currency’ of the program. While they are called Discovery Dollars, each dollar is worth 1 US Dollar. As mentioned previously, you earn Discovery Dollars based on your eligible spend at a hotel. Depending on your status, you will receive between 4% and 7% of your spend back in Discovery Dollars.
As with many programs, GHA Discovery has an expiration policy for Discovery Dollars. It is also a little more complex than most expiration policies. Base Discovery Dollars expire a set time after you earn them, but that length of time is determined by your status level.
- Silver level – 4% of Net Eligible Spend; Expire in six (6) months
- Gold level – 5% of Net Eligible Spend; Expire in eighteen (18) months
- Platinum level – 6% of Net Eligible Spend; Expire in twenty-four (24) months
- Titanium level – 7% of Net Eligible Spend; Expire in twenty-four (24) months
The expiration date for a given Discovery Dollar will be based on the status you were at the time you earned that particular Discovery Dollar.
Now, to complicate it even more, Discovery Dollars issued on a promotional basis, may have their own expiration dates.
Using Discovery Dollars
You are able to use Discovery Dollars for a range of services in hotels. There are a few rules around this. In particular, the minimum redemption is 10 Discovery Dollars, and the in units of 1 Discovery Dollar.
As long as you meet the spend thresholds, you can use Discovery Dollars to pay for room, dining, spa, golf or other services. In addition, they can be used to spend on local experiences, where the hotel offers these.
It’s quite the overhaul of the program, and for the most part it looks like a positive improvement. Certainly, the ability to attain Titanium might be easier given you require 3 different brands.
On the other hand, in Australia, the Rydges, and QT, hotels are no longer part of the program. As a result, in Australia, your choices are now the Pan Pacific, Park Royal, Avani, and Oaks hotels. While they are around, they have a much smaller footprint than Rydges does.