Voilà vs Stash: Independent hotel loyalty programs set to battle it out

Independent hotel loyalty program Voilà announced that it has landed in the US January 11, setting the scene for increased competition in a new market that allows guests to earn points for staying in non-chain hotels.

Voilà, which allows consumers to earn loyalty points at some 250 independent four and five star hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, debuted its program at two hotels in New York, The Court and The Tuscany.

Guests staying at either of the mid-market hotels, which do not belong to any of the major chains, will be able to earn points to redeem at one of Voilà's other hotels worldwide, in much the same way that guests can earn free nights using programs such as Hilton HHonors or InterContinental's Priority Club.

Like these larger programs, rewards also increase with the number of nights spent, offering benefits such as room upgrades and early check-in for those staying over 10 or 20 nights per year.

Voilà's Gabi Kool said that the firm was "busy finalizing plans to develop many additional hotels in key markets in North America," adding that the US launch reflects the company's success since its founding in 2008.

While Voilà brands itself the world's number one loyalty program, it will soon be competing with rapidly-growing US program Stash, which was launched to considerable acclaim last year.

Brian Kelly, who runs loyalty point advice site The Points Guy and recently analysed Stash's program, says that Voilà's US debut will be welcomed by frequent travellers.

"Voilà is going to be a formidable competitor to Stash because their program is strong where Stash is weak," he told Relaxnews.

"Voilà provides solid, tangible benefits for frequent travelers, such as early check-in/late check out and room upgrades - something Stash doesn't offer."

"Where Voilà is weak is obviously North American footprint. Stash already has a budding portfolio of truly unique, high end properties, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of unaffiliated boutique and independent hotel chains decide which program to join - if any."

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