Exclusive: Sonesta is revamping its Travel Pass program with new tiers and points multipliers

26 April 2023

If you don’t think you know of the hotel brand Sonesta, you probably actually do.

With more than 1,200 properties around the world, Sonesta is the eighth-largest hotel company in the U.S. So, chances are you’ve seen it without maybe, well, seeing it.

The Boston-based company behind 17 brands — including The Royal Sonesta, The James, Sonesta ES Suites and more — is well aware of that, which is why it’s doubling down on its Travel Pass loyalty program with a handful of new enhancements geared toward making it easier to earn rewards, plus more personalization.

Seemingly overnight, Sonesta went from a relatively small brand to a hotel powerhouse during the coronavirus pandemic thanks to the $90 million-dollar acquisition of RLH Corp, which brought Red Lion Hotels and Americas Best Value Inn into the fold, and the acquisition of the intellectual rights to The James hotel brand. It also recently started a franchising program that’ll have more Sonesta properties popping up left and right.

With so much growth in the company and staunch competition among major loyalty programs with more name recognition, Sonesta realized Travel Pass needed to change “to compete and to meet customer expectations,” Robin Ruttle, senior director of loyalty and partnerships at Sonesta, exclusively told TPG.

It also needed to find a way to differentiate itself, she added, leading to a series of changes highlighted below.

For now, Ruttle was quick to emphasize that the new Sonesta Travel Pass program is very much in a soft launch. However, the company plans to continue to listen to customer feedback to make it worthwhile for everyone, from road warriors who are hyper-familiar with brands like Sonesta Select and Sonesta ES Suites to a younger crowd just getting started with points and miles who might be more interested in lifestyle-focused brands like The James.

Though it’s just getting started, Sonesta wants the experience “to be a kind of two-way conversation” so guests can help the company learn how to continue to improve, according to Ruttle.

Here’s what’s changing — and why you shouldn’t sleep on Sonesta Travel Pass.

Get points just for signing up

If you’re new to Sonesta Travel Pass, you can snag 1,000 points immediately just for signing up for the program. Signing up is an easy process on Sonesta’s website.

Once registered, members will automatically receive Bronze status and can start working up the elite status tiers.

New status tiers

Speaking of those tiers, the revamped program now has four tiers with various night or point requirements, as broken down below.

Bronze: 0 qualifying nights or 0 points per calendar year.
Silver: 10 qualifying nights or 10,000 points per calendar year.
Gold: 20 qualifying nights or 20,000 points per calendar year.
Platinum: 40 qualifying nights or 40,000 points per calendar year.

Each status comes with a slew of perks. Entry-level Bronze members receive discounted room rates and upgraded Wi-Fi on top of the chance to earn points and elite qualifying nights. Once you qualify for higher tiers, you’ll get more lucrative perks, depending on your elite status.

Some of the top benefits include complimentary room upgrades (when available) for Silver, Gold and Platinum members, and complimentary continental breakfast (when available) for Gold and Platinum members. The latter is a particularly popular loyalty perk for elite members.

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Even if you aren’t staying at many Sonesta properties, you can take advantage of a rolling status match program if you have elite status with other programs. To request a status match, enroll in Sonesta Travel Pass, then reach out to Sonesta’s Customer Care team with your Travel Pass Member ID and proof of your current elite status with another program. Depending on what elite status you have, you could earn Silver, Gold or Platinum elite status with Travel Pass.

Huge bonus multipliers make earning points easier than ever

The whole point of rewards programs is to earn points or miles that you can redeem for travel or other perks — and Sonesta is making that easier for guests as they work their way up the ranks of elite status.

Now, starting with Silver elite status, members can earn points faster thanks to a new lucrative bonus points structure, as detailed below.

Silver: 50% bonus multiplier.
Gold: 75% bonus multiplier.
Platinum: 100% bonus multiplier.

Members earn a base rate of 10 points for every dollar spent during qualified stays, and award nights are based on a chart with nine tiers ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 points per night.

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Updated functionality, look and personalization

Sonesta Travel Pass is also getting a new logo to help burn some name recognition into the minds of travelers. (If you haven’t seen Sonesta’s brilliant ad campaign “Famous Yet Nameless,” starring actress Judy Greer — whom everyone probably knows, but whose name nobody can remember — definitely check it out.)

Right now, one of the unfortunate features of Travel Pass is that to book an award night, members must pick up the phone and call. That’s changing soon, though an exact date for online and in-app award bookings is not yet confirmed. Another new feature in the works is the option to book a stay using a combination of cash and points.

Also, as part of the long-term plan, Sonesta wants to make the program more customized for members by rolling out personalized experiences that are tailored to specific guests and their needs. There will be member anniversary rewards, birthday rewards and a soon-to-come status gifting program as well.

These personalized benefits, along with the overall changes, have truly been designed with the customer in mind, according to Ruttle.

“We’re showing you that you’re not just a number at Sonesta,” Ruttle shared. “We know who you are, and we really want to deliver an experience that’s gonna put a smile on your face and make you come back.”

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