One man’s strategy to getting targeted for promotions

I think the points and miles gods are finally beginning to hear my prayers.

For a while now I have always wondered what the secret ingredient was to getting targeted for an airline or hotel promotion. I’ve traveled a lot, I’m active across different programs, but for some reason I haven’t done enough to be awarded what I consider to be the honor of a targeted promotion. In my adventures across the big, bad internet, I always hear about people getting targeted promotions for top-level elite statuses, or increased points earning opportunities, but I’ve never actually seen it for myself. Things have seemed to turn around, though. (re: my recent “Miles Play” promotion with United)

What is a targeted promotion?

For anyone unaware, a targeted promotion is usually an opportunity for select members of an awards program to either “skip ahead” to a higher elite status, or earn a certain number of bonus points after some kind of qualifying activity. There are even promotions that deal in the credit card space. Whatever it may be, the promotions are pretty valuable, and usually very attainable — especially for me, as a weekly traveler. These differ from the promotions that are offered across the entire member base, like Hyatt’s current “More Bonus Points Night After Night” promotion.

There is something about the idea of being selected, in an exclusive group that has made me always wonder — is there a certain formula to ensuring you receive these promotions? Why haven’t I ever been targeted for a promotion? While I’m not sure there will ever be an exact way to make sure you get targeted for promotions, I think I may have figured out how to increase my odds.

Why I was not targeted before?

I went through the better half of last year travelling every week. I reached the highest elite statuses I have ever achieved. And whether it was my money or not, I was both personally and financially very loyal to a select few programs.

I am not going to break it down program by program, but the reason I believe I was not targeted is because I’ve been too loyal for some, and just not loyal enough with others. Last year I achieved Platinum with Delta and Marriott. If you are the computers for those programs (I assume its a computer and not a person granting these promotions — regardless of “who” is signing the emails), you look at my activity and assume my business is already coming no matter what. While a targeted promotion is supposed to increase travel with the company, I think in a lot of situations money is actually lost. The customer does not have to travel as much and can receive the same reward. Long term maybe it pays off, but ultimately I understand — they know my business is coming, they know I’ll reach that status anyway, so why try and allow me to travel any less. On one hand I’d like my loyalty to be recognized, but on the other hand I have to respect it a little bit.

On the flip side of the programs I am super loyal to, I don’t think I’ve been loyal enough to the other programs to warrant any kind of special treatment. Either the other programs, like United and American, saw my activity on Delta, or they just didn’t see enough loyalty with their own brand. Whatever it may be, I think to be targeted you have to show at least some kind of loyalty — refer to the title, as this is my opinion, because I have heard of some pretty out of the blue promotions. If you look at my activity last year on American or United, I wasn’t even close to hitting the lowest level of statuses. So once again, I wouldn’t target myself either. With that being said, I’m thinking I may have cracked  the code — at least partially.

How I think one is targeted for a promotion?

I will say first that my knowledge comes from two recent targeted promotions. I talked about my small opportunity to earn some extra points on United earlier, but I was also just offered Hyatt Explorist status in a targeted promotion.


I am currently a Discoverist with Hyatt, their first tier of status, and this promo is offering the next level of Explorist after only 10 nights in a 3 month period. The cool thing about this challenge, though, is that I will enjoy Explorist status during that three month period. Few things of note:

  1. I am currently staying at a Hyatt property, so after this week will be at 16 nights for the year. So while it is a “fast track,” I would have originally had to only complete 4 more nights than I do with this promotion.
  2. I am currently on a longer work stay of 5 nights at a Hyatt property, ending this Friday. Unfortunately, as this stay ends before the March 1 start date, this stay won’t count.

With all that aside, I am extremely excited just to be targeted. I feel like some of my “work” on the road is beginning to pay off. With all the flack that Hyatt has gotten, this is a welcome surprise. So what is the piece of code I think I’ve uncovered to get targeted:

Loyalty is good.

Even though I talked about not being loyal earlier, I think it will always pay to show some kind of loyalty. Maybe not the amount of loyalty where you are using the same brands every week, but I have to imagine that these companies will recognize at least some form of loyalty — no matter how big or small.

Play hard to get.

I mean this in the most serious way possible. My travel has been a bit inconsistent this year. While I was travelling a few weeks straight earlier in the year, I have pulled back a bit since then — travelling every other week or so. It is still early on in the year, but I think this may be the real reason I got targeted. I showed these companies some kind of consistent loyalty, but maybe not the amount to prove that I will be consistently loyal. By playing hard to get I feel like I’ve maybe baited them a bit.

Travel early.

I am hoping that while 2017 was a big year for me in travel, 2018 will be even bigger. With that being said, it is only February and I am already stressing about the statuses I can achieve — when I have 10 more months to do it! In terms of trying to get a targeted promotion, I think the earlier you show a brand you are going to use them, the more likely they may try and gain your loyalty for the rest of the year. Last year I didn’t really begin traveling heavily until about May, and I think that is maybe what could have done me in. Especially considering that this Hyatt promotion gives me status only February 2019.

Bottom Line

I don’t think this is the full formula to getting targeted for a rewards promotion, but I do think it has merit to help you get closer. I also don’t think it will ever be known what the exact formula is or is not. This game is entirely too unpredictable, and ultimately a lot of it comes down to pure, dumb luck. If anyone has some data points on this subject that they would be willing to share I’d love to hear them.

Tucker is an avid points and miles enthusiast. Being fully involved in the world of credit cards and frequent flying for only a few years now, he brings a very fresh and unique perspective to the world of travel.

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