Now is the time to implement your 2009 and 2010 hotel loyalty program strategy. The next three months are an extraordinary opportunity to leverage hotel spending with InterContinental Hotels Group and Starwood for added value with free nights in 2009. Forward thinkers with a Marriott plan can attain frequent guest elite status through early 2012 with far fewer nights. Hilton offers frequent guests more points and more miles.
Upscale hotels in North America are some of the lowest priced globally. Stay frequently over the next three months in the U.S. and plan a luxury vacation using free nights for summer or fall travel anywhere worldwide. And hotel rooms are available at bargain bin prices for many high-end hotels.
Starwood Hotels free night offer was first out of the block. Earn one free night after every two stays at any Starwood hotel from May 1 through July 31, 2009. Once the free night credit is posted, typically within a week, your free Friday, Saturday or Sunday weekend night may be redeemed through Sept. 26, 2009. The extraordinary feature of this promotion is the inclusion of category 6 luxury hotels for free night redemption. Register at http://www.spgpromo.com/weekends
Normally I am a stay low, redeem high hotel guest. High-end hotel rates are so low in many places that I am choosing to stay upscale at bargain rates. Take time to study specific hotel rates over several days since a $220 rate one night may drop to $120 another night of the same week.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) free night promotion earns a free night after any two paid nights May 4-July 3, 2009. Qualifying nights do not need to be consecutive nights at one hotel. A limit of four earned free nights per Priority Club member is more restrictive than Starwood; however, free nights are valid any night of the week. Free night redemption period begins July 3, 2009 and extends all the way through Dec. 26, 2009. This is a global promotion, but hotels in Japan are excluded.
Hey Priority Club — Be PC and lighten up with the free night redemption rules. A major drawback is no changes are allowed to your free night(s) reservation. Book it, use it or lose it. Cancelled reservations are forfeited and will not be replaced in your account.
No Priority Club base points or elite bonus points will be earned for stays during the promotion period once you sign up for free nights. For this reason, IHG road warriors have an alternate choice promotion for double points.
Earning free nights with IHG is preferable if you plan a multi-night hotel stay. Starwood favors single night stays. One eight-night stay at a Holiday Inn will earn four free nights, but no points. One eight-night stay at a Starwood hotel earns points, but not a free night. You will need a second stay with Starwood.
I see Holiday Inn rates under $50 and think $200 for four paid nights earns two free nights at the InterContinental Monterey, a $400 value. There are 150 luxury InterContinental Hotels around the globe and several properties are never below $300 per night.
Register at http://www.getafreenight.com
Marriott Rewards has a Double Nights elite promotion from May 11-June 26, 2009. Marriott won the Best Elite Level for hotel programs in the Americas at the most recent Freddie Awards. Platinum elite at 75 nights is a high hurdle for most travelers. The next two months reduces the hotel nights requirement by half.
Marriott also launched elite rollover nights for 2010. Gold elite takes 50 nights and is another high hurdle, but don’t worry about your recession year hotel cutbacks. Miss 50 nights in 2009 and all nights above the silver elite level, 10 nights, will rollover to jumpstart your elite activity in 2010.
Elite Rollover Example: Stay 20 nights by June 26, 2009, during Double Nights. You are Silver elite for 2009 and 2010 with 40 elite nights for 2009. Marriott Rewards will rollover the 30 nights above the Silver threshold. Reach Gold elite in 2010 with just 20 nights, not 50 nights. Marriott Rewards elite recap: Silver elite in 2009 and 2010 for 20 paid Double Nights, Gold in 2010 after 25 nights and Gold in 2011–all for 45 paid hotel nights in 2009/10.
Register at http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1606
Hilton HHonors is sticking with its 1,000 bonus points per night through June 30, 2009. The equivalent of $100 in base points per night is a good value promotion in outstanding promotion times. Register at http://www.hiltonhhonors.com/1000bonuspoints
HHonors also has a triple miles promotion with bmi airlines through June 30, 2009. Register at http://www.insideflyer.com/link/?1607
Hyatt Hotels — FlyerTalk members report a new promo coming in June. No details yet.
Hotel loyalty programs are in full swing this spring. Choose your favored promotion(s) and hit the beds.