Global families versus Mom & Pop’s BnB

Between the three main industries of higher flying (airlines, hotels, and banks), hotels are arguably the most complicated. They’re certainly the most diverse. On one end of the spectrum, you have massive hotel families with dozens of subsidiary brands and thousands of locations worldwide, and on the other, you have tiny boutique properties operating independently everywhere. For higher flying, the Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental Hotel Group, and Marriott & Starwood families are usually the most useful, but not exclusively so. This subsection provides information on some of the many ways you can maximize lodging opportunities whenever you travel.

So what exactly is a hotel family? How is it different from any other hotel? What about subsidiary brands? Do you have other questions? Consult the Hotels FAQs here for answers!


HiltonThe Hilton brand, in terms of higher flying, is an interesting player in the hospitality industry. The brand is ubiquitous, as it has nearly 5,000 properties all over the world, which means that it’s easy to earn and maintain status. Hilton is famous for its promotions, and users can frequently take advantage of generous points multipliers. These complement usually low room rates and a number of handy perks too. This all comes together to represent a nice value, but unfortunately, there are fewer “elite” hotels in the Hilton portfolio compared to its competitors.

Tutorials & Guides

  • Hilton


HyattHyatt, despite its relatively small portfolio of properties (679 hotels), was a popular choice for higher flyers because of its stellar Gold Passport loyalty program. Much to the dismay of many, Gold Passport was rebranded as World of Hyatt in early 2017, and such a change brought many “enhancements.” While unlimited suite upgrades and other bonuses were touted perks for the most elite status-holders, achieving such a level was raised to quite a high standard (60 nights). Nevertheless, Hyatt continues to enjoy a position of high-esteem because of its glamorous yet comfortable hotels.

Tutorials & Guides

  • Hyatt

Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG)

IHGThe Intercontinental Hotel Group has a huge global footprint (5,028 hotels), and that, combined with a lucrative credit card offer, make it quite easy for higher flyers to be loyal to the brand and earn elite status. Unfortunately, the perks that come with holding status aren’t particularly remarkable or valuable. In addition to that, IHG doesn’t have as many aspirational properties as its competitors do. But for more budget-minded travelers, the Holiday Inn (an IHG subsidiary brand) offers comfortable and economical accommodations all over the world…as well as opportunities to earn points!

Tutorials & Guides

  • Intercontinental Hotel Group (IHG)

Marriott & Starwood

Marriott StarwoodThe landscape of the hotel industry was shaken up in September 2016 when Marriott acquired Starwood. The development represents a new and exciting frontier, as a massive collection of properties (nearly 6,000 in total) and three loyalty programs (Marriott, Starwood, Ritz-Carlton) joined together. Better yet, the portfolio, the perks, and the points are arguably the most useful and most valuable for the purposes of higher flying. That being said, there is still a long way to go before the merger is finalized and until the brands are completely consolidated, the futures of the programs are cloudy.

Tutorials & Guides

  • Marriott & Starwood
  • Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)

Other Groups, Alternatives, and Boutiques

The Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott/Starwood families are the most useful for higher flyers, namely because of their vast footprints and practical loyalty programs, but they certainly aren’t the only ones. There is tons of value that can be found beyond these four; the alternatives likely won’t be as prominent. Wyndham is a great examples of this. They’re both usually reliable chains with quality accommodations, but their points/portfolios simply aren’t as versatile as their competitors. The same applies to the Aman and the Four Seasons and the Shangri-La, but at higher price points. AirBNB, which is redefining lodging in the same way Uber is changing taxi services, offers access to people’s own housing for low prices. Options like all of these (and beyond) shouldn’t be ignored, especially if they can help higher flyers accomplish their goals.

Tutorials & Guides

  • AirBNB
  • Wyndham
  • The Most Luxurious Hotel Families
  • Non-affiliated Hotels