For the most part, every time I stay at a hotel is the equivalent of flying in business or first class not domestic, but international . In the last year, I have not been upgraded at check-in maybe once or twice. This is the exact opposite of my experience with airlines, I was upgraded maybe once in the last year! On average, hotels are much better to customers than airlines.
However, there is one particular area in which I see airlines beating hotels. If I book a hotel via Ultimate Rewards, Amex Travel or any third party, I do not get credit towards elite status and some hotels, like Hilton will not honor my elite status at all, unless I book direct.
I’m sure there are times when you might still get treated as an elite member, but do not count on that. With Marriott, my elite benefits have been honored, but my stays have not counted towards keeping or move up to the next status tier. Airlines on the other hand, do not care if you book direct or via a third party site. I’ve booked via the UR portal, Amex Travel, Orbitz, Kayak, and many others. The results have been the same: the airline credits my miles in the same way as if I had booked directly with them.
This is the reason why, lately I have tried to book all my business and personal hotel stays directly. I do not see hotels changing this customer-hostile practice anytime soon. I wish hotels tried to sweeten the deal once we booked direct rather than taking away perks. The way things are today is as if when you booked a airfare via a third party regardless of what you paid you’d still get basic economy or lose your early boarding privileges. I have not seen a single hotel site that doesn’t state that they guarantee the best price, if this is true why would anyone book any other way?