An email from Ebookers has landed in my inbox this morning, advising that the Bonus+ loyalty program is shutting down in September. It will be replaced by an all-new program called ‘One Key’ managed by Expedia, the parent company of Ebookers.

For semi-budget travellers like us, the closure of Ebookers Bonus+ is a shame. It wasn’t the best program, but it did allow us to earn some loyalty benefits without having to be loyal to a specific hotel chain.

Ebookers Bonus+ Closes – what now?

Reading between the lines, the Ebookers website itself will probably shut down in September too, with all products and services being rolled into the Expedia brand. At the switchover, your existing Bonus+ benefits and earnings will also be merged into the One Key program.

One Key looks like poor value

It is very, very rare that a loyalty program improves over time. Which is a shame because the Bonus+ benefits were actually pretty decent, particularly at the Platinum level:

A screenshot of the current Bonus+ benefits taken before Ebookers Bonus+ closes

Perhaps better still, earning status was relatively easy. Every member automatically qualifies for Silver status at sign-up. Stay 4+ nights to earn Gold, or 12+ to hit the heady heights of Platinum.

Unsurprisingly, we managed to hold Platinum status for several years. And the annual DragonPass airport lounge passes were a genuinely handy benefit.

The One Key loyalty program is significantly less generous (in my opinion):

A screen shot of the One Key loyalty program tiers and the benefits for each

At the very highest tier, you have the opportunity to earn an additional 1% cash back – and that’s about it. Earning status is also harder, not least because there’s a new, unnecessary Blue tier to navigate first:

A picture of the earnings thresholds required to reach each One Key loyalty program tier

What is a ‘trip element’?

The Bonus+ program was beautifully simple – for every night stayed, you earned one credit towards the next tier. One Key introduces the concept of ‘trip elements’ to further obfuscate how difficult it will be to reach Platinum status.

The idea is that you are rewarded for each service you purchase through Expedia. So you earn a credit for each night in a hotel or each day you hire a car etc. According to the official example, two nights in a hotel and three day’s care hire would count as five credits, allowing you to achieve Silver status in just one trip.

Bumping the Platinum tier threshold to 30 credits has made it much harder (and more expensive) to reach goal.

It’s also worth noting that membership tiers are not permanent. You will have to meet the credit threshold every year to maintain status. Much like regular hotel programs such as Marriott Bonvoy or Hilton Honors.

Are there any upsides to One Key?

One Key will become the new loyalty program for all of Expedia’s brands. This means you can earn status on qualifying spend at Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo, allowing you to consolidate your travel loyalty memberships a little.

And in theory, by making Platinum status harder to achieve, fewer people will. Aside from perceived exclusivity, there is a very slim chance that the properties you visit will provide better perks.

What happens to my left-over Bonus+ credit?

When the One Key handover completes, Expedia promise that any left-over credit will migrate automatically. They also confirm that your existing Bonus+ membership tier will migrated to the corresponding One Key tier. But given the credit thresholds, there will be plenty of Platinum members who find themselves bumped down to Gold (or lower) overnight.

Ebookers Bonus+ closes – and so does my loyalty

The benefits of Bonus+ weren’t earth-shattering – but they were better than most of the hotel aggregator websites. By making it harder (and more expensive) to reach higher tiers, I don’t think we will bother in future. I certainly will not go out of my way to choose Expedia over Booking.com for instance.

As Ebookers Bonus+ closes I will no longer be tempted to gravitate towards loyalty program benefits over raw costs. I will always lean towards the cheapest prices for comparable hotel rooms in future.

Goodbye Bonus+, we will miss you.


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