It’s nice to pay for the cheapest room or seat and get the best seat or the best hotel room when one arrives. Airline and hotel loyalty programs promise us something like that however, in practice that’s not going to be the case most of the time.
If you reach the top of a given loyalty program you are more likely to travel on business or first class than someone who has the top hotel loyalty status to get a suite. In my experience, airlines tend to make the process more transparent than hotels. Even at the lowest status tier, one can select a premium economy seat 24 hours before the flight and then be put on a waiting list for business/first.
When it comes to hotels, you will only know what you are getting at arrival, this feels similar to being put on the airline waiting list or worse. It seems that the person at the desk has the power to either give you a room a tad better than the cheap one you booked or if available a suite.
Since getting status with Hyatt (discoverist), Hilton (gold), Marriott (gold, then platinum, then platinum premiere, titanium) I have gotten upgraded at almost all my stays. Ironically, I gotten better rooms at Hyatt although that is my lowest status. Treating the person at the front desk with kindness has resulted in better upgrades and perks than having the highest elite status. Don’t get me wrong, I still dream about reaching Globalist someday. Especially if Hyatt puts out a match/ challenge.
Reaching anything beyond silver status with any airline is something I don’t see in my cards anytime soon. I have been close several times, but I honestly do not feel it is worth the cost/effort. On top of that, it seems that there are way too many people with some level of elite beyond silver. I don’t remember the last time there weren’t at least 12 people boarding in group 1! In several instances, I have seen a longer group 1 line out of EWR on United than group 2.