Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be taking a look at some of the more extreme lengths that people will go to in order to maximise miles and points promotions or gain elite status.

Today’s focus turns to mattress running.


What is a mattress run?

If you’ve never come across the term before, your mind is no doubt conjuring up many weird and wonderful possibilities.

Mattress running essentially involves booking a hotel room that you don’t actually need, for the sole purpose of earning rewards – be it points, elite status or otherwise. 

The main difference between mattress runs (hotels) and tier point runs (flights) (which I’ll look at next week) is that the name of the game with mattress running is to find the cheapest, most convenient place to book a stay. As you’re often unlikely to actually spend the night there, the type/size of the room hardly matters.

Tier point runs, on the other hand, will often involve business/first class travel in order to make it worth the time and money spent, but more on that next week.


When is it worth doing a mattress run?

Promotions

One of the most common promotions that lends itself to mattress runs is IHG’s Accelerate offer. I’ve written about Accelerate at length before, it essentially offers each member a personalised target to complete. Each completed task unlocks a tranche of bonus points.

Last year, on the one occasion that my IHG Accelerate was even remotely interesting, I did bite the bullet and completed a mattress run. However, this quarter I have been set a ridiculous 18 nights for just 35,000 IHG points – nope nothing to see there.

Others it seemed, fared considerably better.

Here’s a reader’s Accelerate target:

PHOTO-2018-04-26-00-07-33.jpg

By being clever, he could earn 41,500 points from just two stays, here’s how:

  • Stay Once Get 2,000 Bonus points – 2,000 points
  • Stay 5 nights – 10,000 points
  • Book two stays with the IHG App – 4,200 points
  • Book a bonus points package – 6,600 points
  • Two stays in any country in Europe, Greater China, Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa – 12,000 points
  • Book and pay for one stay with your IHG Credit Card – 1,500 points
  • Achievement bonus – upon completing 5 out of 6 tasks – 13,200 points

Ignore the ‘stay five nights’ option. If he booked just two one-night stays in London for example, via the IHG app, ensuring one of those stays is a bonus points package and is paid for with his IHG credit card he would trigger a total of 41,500 IHG points.

Now, if he needs to anyway book a couple of hotel nights for work/holiday – fantastic. But is it worth booking (mattress running) two hotel nights purely to trigger those 41,500 points?

That will depend largely on the cost…

Elite status

You find yourself just short of the stays/nights requirement to retain or attain elite status as the end of the year approaches.

Is it worth squeezing in a couple of mattress runs?

Again, it will depend on how much value you place on the higher level of status. For example, if a perk of the status in question is free breakfast, there would be a strong argument for making a couple of cheap stays now. In return, you’d enjoy free breakfast on all of your stays in the following year…


How much should you be looking to pay?

Obviously, that will depend entirely on the reward on offer and its value to you.

Based on the IHG Accelerate example above, those same 41,500 IHG points can be purchased outright in IHG’s current 80% bonus offer for roughly £200.

That means he should be looking to spend well under £200 on any potential mattress run(s). And that shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

Here are the prices for a random Sunday night in June:

Mattress run 1.png

So two stays at roughly £47 each would mean paying about £100 for 41,500 IHG points – or about 0.24p per point. That’s a very good deal!


How to book a mattress run

Just like any other hotel stay. Find a suitable rate and book.

And you must check-in. This is key. Don’t assume that just because you’ve booked and paid for a room it will count as a stay. Otherwise, you run the risk of the hotel marking you down as a no-show and cancelling your reservation.

That hotel in Thailand for £15 a night might look like a bargain, but if you can’t physically check in it’s not much use to you.


Verdict

While the glory days of Hyatt’s Faster Free nights promotion may be long gone, mattress running is still alive and kicking. It’s just a question of weighing up the value of the promotion/reward at stake.

Mattress running to earn or retain elite status involves much the same equation.

Have you ever booked a hotel room that you didn’t need?

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