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While I often stay at certain hotel chains when I travel either because of familiarity, preference, or points earning/burning, like many of you I end up staying at some chains I’m not as familiar with from time to time. Naturally I always make sure to earn points on those stays, even if I’m not sure where I will eventually use them. This can lead to having some points scattered in various programs. If you have points scattered all around a bunch of hotel programs that you aren’t quite as familiar with, then it can be really helpful to utilize a tool that helps identify where you can use those points.
A while back I heard about a new site called Award Mapper. It looked really cool, but with the pace of life these days it took a little time for me to get the chance to dig a bit deeper into how it works. I recruited my points friend, Katy, to help find out some extra details about the site. With Award Mapper you are able to look at cities all over the world and see some of the hotel point redemption options that are out there. As of right now the site shows Club Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Starwood hotels. It won’t show you if a redemption is available on a certain date, but it will give you an idea of what is possible.
The founder of Award Mapper, Ryan Calme, told us he had lots of requests for Best Western, Choice, and Wyndham options to also display on the tool. He has seen how few options there are in the smaller towns with the chains Award Mapper currently supports, so he would also like to eventually get certain additions like Best Western on the map. While some of these options may eventually display on the tool, some are not as likely to ever appear. For example, regarding Choice Hotels he said that “not only do they (Choice hotels) not post a master list of their hotels, the number of points required at a given hotel will fluctuate throughout the year. Since my site has no option for entering dates I wouldn’t be able to reliably report the point cost for Choice hotels even if I was able to collect them.”
Once you are on Award Mapper you start by using a sliding scale to go as low (down to 1000 points) or as high (up to 95,000 points) as you want your redemption option to be. I don’t really recommend messing with the scale too much when just getting a broad view of what is out there since 50,000 points in one program is the value equivalent of say 20,000 points in another program.
When you reach a destination, the hotel chains are displayed as color coded pins on a map, and on the right side of the screen.
When you click on a pin it will give you the hotel name, its category, and the points needed to redeem for one night (again, this also displays on the right side of the screen during your general search of the city).
I looked up some international cities that I will be traveling to next year to see what kind of options it displayed. I used Paris as an example and it showed several of the points options with the participating chains.
Once you have selected a hotel, simply click the hotel name and it takes you right to the hotel’s website.
As you can see it is a very simple and quick process. I think Award Mapper was a smart idea and it will be a helpful tool to research point redemption options. Once they get more hotels in there it might reach a larger audience, but the chains they do offer are ones I use quite often and will be helpful to me when I am short on time and need to know my options so I can make a quick decision!
Have you used Award Mapper before? Did it help you save time when planning for your trip?