Let me be totally upfront before I make my case for why I think loyalty programs are great for Autism families….I am Diamond level with Hyatt. Hyatt is my preferred hotel chain, for many reasons…some of which I will discuss in this blog. Hyatt did not ask me to write this blog, in fact they have no idea I am doing this. This is not a compensated blog…I was loyal to Hyatt years before I even started blogging. This is my first in a three-part series on travel and autism.
For some autistic families, travel is not always something they enjoy…not because they don’t like to travel, but because of all the extra stresses that it brings to the family member with autism, which in turn causes stress to everyone else. Peyton is my youngest child by quite a few years, and in some ways it made it a little easier for me. My other kids were enough older that they understood his stresses better, as well as they were there to help me with him. I must admit there were times they got frustrated and voiced their opinions about how they wanted to just enjoy their vacations and not deal with him. Peyton by most standards is actually a fairly easy traveler. We do have our challenges though, the hardest is if he has a meltdown. He also gets bothered by noises and at times, it can be rough as he then will not sleep. Little things stress him and while it may seem trivial to us, it isn’t to him. Ice machines, loud elevators, others talking loudly, yelling, doors slamming and loud TV’s are all stress points for him. If not dealt with properly it can end up being a stressful situation. These are all triggers that can and are dealt with at home, but can’t necessarily be handled easily in a hotel setting.
I understand very well that hotel chains can not change their hotels to fit each and every special request, but that they do their best to be accommodating. This is true of almost every hotel chain. Certain issues can be dealt with relative ease such as some have quiet floors, have refrigerators and microwaves in the rooms, as well as other helpful policies. I also know that many times hotels aren’t told specific issues so they can’t accommodate the requests. As a parent of an Autistic son, I have had my share of issues with hotels. Some front desk clerks are very understanding, some aren’t. Peyton doesn’t haven’t food allergies, but we do have him eating high protein foods. I have had many parents tell me one of their biggest issues is food allergies so they require microwaves and refrigerators. Pacing is also an issue and requires specific room placement….these are just a few of many issues I either deal with or have been told by others they deal with.
All of this goes back to my original point of loyalty programs. As I stated I am personally very partial to Hyatt as I find they are very loyal to those who are loyal to them. I find by being in their gold passport program, I get treated in a way I don’t by others if I just “stay” at their hotels. I credit this to two reason, one being that Hyatt really does care about its loyal guests beyond, free nights etc….as well as the rise of competition from groups such as Expedia, Priceline etc..which may give you a great price, but not the perks a loyalty program does. I must also add I have had great experiences with IHG..which is Holiday Inns, and have had many other autism families tell me how much they love IHG. I even went as far as to call them and thank them for their support. I also understand not everyone travels enough to achieve higher levels within the hotel’s loyalty program, but just being enrolled into one also does afford you certain perks. Many times these perks may be small, but it can make a significant difference in how a front desk works with you, as they tend to have your preferences on file and this alone can eliminate stress.
In my next blog I will discuss at greater detail my thoughts and suggestions for hotels on making travel easier for autism families, as well as discuss at greater detail perks from loyalty programs and how they help autism families. Please also see…..http://www.awesomismmom.com/amazing-people-we-met-along-the-way/