Accor do have some nice properties eg Sofitel Queenstown. I’m still exploring a few of the properties around NZ and Australia. I agree with your thoughts about Mercure Auckland and generally I’m not excited about Mercure in particular in Australia and NZ but we stayed in a really nice one in Paris years ago so I’ll keep other countries open as an option. If the price is right and you just need a place to lay your head then I would probably still book Mercure in Auckland (I think it’s the reason I booked it in the first place). No parking though which is crappola. The main draw card for me is that Accor seem to be where I travel and they have 99% of the time been decent and not cringe worthy properties. When booking non-chain motels/hotels, well – sometimes they just aren’t like the pictures and you feel like you paid for a right lemon.
As a loyalty programme they aren’t the best at status recognition but sometimes things like early or late check in really come in handy, or it’s nice to be offered a free breakfast (despite being unable to take them up on the offer), or welcome drinks (even if you go for the orange juice or coke because the house wine is awful). The higher your tier the more the bonus points which one day count towards a discounted/free night. Or you can convert them to airline miles/points so you still get some use out of the programme even if you’re not looking hard for it. It would be great to receive upgraded rooms but an upgrade can be anything from a higher floor to a nicer view – which essentially pops your status bubble! Some programmes ACTUALLY give you better rooms eg suites which is awesome. Accor you’ll have to fight for a better room.
However they are probably the most prevalent hotel chain in NZ and it wouldn’t surprise me if that is also the case in Australia so – might as well join and play the game.
Hilton Honors is really good at status recognition. But Hilton in Auckland, Queenstown, Melbourne and Sydney are expensive! They don’t fit into a work budget at all! I agree they’re one of the really good ones for status recognition but some Hiltons overseas feel more like a Holiday Inn. HH is one of the programmes I status matched to last year and I was waiting for the status drop this year but it never came 🙂 If I can fit HH into a work or personal budget then that’s also great as I love a free breakfast. But more often than not it doesn’t work so I don’t really do a lot of stays with Hilton. Accruing stays depends on budget and where you travel.