Recently, we had Brian Kelly (aka The Points Guy) on our radio show to talk about Loyalty Programs. Though what he said was complex, it can be boiled down to one phrase: "Don't just rely on airline trips to accumulate miles." Instead, Kelly makes a big play for using the right credit cards and accumulating loyalty points at hotels. You can read his advice at the website linked to above.
A Westin Resort Lobby in Greece
Dovetailing this advice, is the recent announcement that Delta has Partnered with Starwood Hotels (which comprises the brands Westin, Sheraton, Aloft, W and Meridien). Starting March 1, those who stay in a Sheraton will earn points on Delta (above and beyond the points they earn by flying). And conversely, booking a ticket on Delta will earn "Gold Tier" members of Starwood's loyalty program points for every dollar spent on Delta. That's significant: its dollars not miles that earn points towards free hotel stays.
Only time will tell how well the program works out for consumers. But for users of each brand it seems like a no-brainer to give the new system a try.