The Wall Street Journal explains the entry-level perks of some hotel frequent guest programs, which are offered to a member just for joining.
The benefits are relatively modest but it is of course better to join a frequent guest program than not to do so. Some hotel chains offer free internet, others won’t charge for late checkout (but don’t guarantee its availability), and perhaps a free newspaper will be included.
I usually roll my eyes when TV travel commentators talk about how great it is to be a member of a hotel’s program. And some guests bluster “But I’m an HHonors member!” as though that should grant them the Presidential suite.
But for the beginner, it’s worth understanding that it’s worth joining a program, the little things count (attenuate expectations accordingly, membership generally affords some little things).