We reviewed Choice Privileges in this issue and were able to chat with the VP of Choice Privileges, Greg Brown, about the program’s 10th Anniversary this year, winning a Freddie Award for the first time and some of the upcoming changes to the program.
What’s new with Choice Privileges?
Our key words this year are growth and expansion. We’ve nearly tripled our membership since 2003 and have over six million members. Our program revenue has tripled over that same period. This past year we expanded by adding two new brands — Cambria Suites and Suburban Extended Stay Hotels. We also added several new redemption partners, including a Wal-Mart gift card option which has been a popular addition for our members. We added the ability for members to buy points, which has exceeded our expectations. We introduced a contemporary logo and redesigned our Web site that included a number of changes to improve the site’s look and usability.
Why did you decide to discontinue the EA$Y CHOICE program and include Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn in the Choice Privileges program?
We implemented this change on New Year’s Day and we did so since our members thought it was a good idea, and our hotel owners were in favor of adding these brands to our program. This adds 1,000 new properties to the Choice Privileges program.
Choice Privileges is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year. Are you doing anything special to celebrate?
Yes, very special. We recently announced our spring promotion, which celebrates our 10th anniversary with our first ever bonus point promotion for all 10 of our brands. Included is a special offer for our Choice Privileges Visa card. Watch out for our TV ads and go to choicehotels.com for the details.
Why is it that members can only earn points for stays in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Mexico and the Caribbean? Why are other properties in other locations excluded from earning points?
We have good news. This spring, we will be expanding internationally with our new pan-European program that will encompass several hundred properties in 13 countries. Members have always been able to redeem points at our European properties (excluding Scandinavia), but they will now be able to earn points as well.
Do you have anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Yes, three exciting initiatives. First, Hawaii! Six Outrigger properties will be affiliated with Choice’s Clarion Collection brand and members will be able to earn and redeem points for free nights at the new properties located in Honolulu, Waikiki and on the island of Hawaii.
Secondly, we recently launched a new golf award which provides members a free round of golf at over 1,200 courses worldwide, including Torrey Pines and Pebble Beach. The golf partnership launched in January and is in response to the evolving interests of our membership base.
Finally, we have several exciting new elite benefits for our Elite Platinum, and Elite Diamond members.
In closing, 2007 was a busy year. The highlight was winning our first ever Freddie Award. It was a great accolade for us, and recognition for all the hard work we have put into growing and expanding Choice Privileges.